City Garden’s charter school was founded in 2008 as a neighborhood school as an effort to interrupt the segregation and inequity that still exists in St. Louis. Through expanding our programs, we aim to equitably serve more children throughout the region with our Anti-Biased, Antiracist, public Montessori model. Click below to learn about our community-centered approach to growth.
City Garden will soon be a school with two buildings. Our facility at 1618 Tower Grove Avenue will serve our preschool and kindergarten students, and our second facility at 4209 Folsom Avenue will serve our first through eighth grade students. Together, these buildings will make up our Flagship Campus. Click below to check out images and renderings of our new facility at 4209 Folsom!
At City Garden, we strive to center the voices of our educators, families, and most importantly - our students. The design of this process has incorporated numerous steps for community feedback, listening, and engagement, and we will continue to partner with our community as we grow. Click below to learn more about our approach to partnership.
City Garden is thrilled to announce the launch of our first ever capital campaign, Ready to Flourish Campaign: growing a world of justice and possibility. This campaign will serve as the fundraising mechanism to support our growth and advancement. Click below to learn more about our campaign!
In 1995, City Garden Montessori preschool was founded by Trish Curtis and Mary Mitchell in an old tavern on South Newstead. They had come to know and deeply value the Montessori approach, and they believed that every child deserved this child-centered experience. They saw possibility, and they planted a seed.
In 2006, a handful of City Garden preschool parents became frustrated about the stark inequities in our education systems in the St. Louis region—and they keenly felt the absence of a school that would see and value their children holistically, allowing all children to flourish.
In 2008, this passion turned to action, and the small but mighty City Garden community of families and teachers opened an elementary charter school in the basement of Tyler Place Church, creating a free neighborhood Montessori school serving K-8 students.
In 2012, City Garden moved to 1618 Tower Grove Avenue, a beautiful and innovative home for our school community. Over the past eight years, our students, teachers, parents, staff, board and extended community have continued to build a school that strives to center the needs of the whole child, racial and economic justice, and connection through a lively and engaged community.
Now, we are preparing to grow again. We are thrilled to open our doors to more families in St. Louis. In Fall 2021, we will add 60 new kindergarten spaces (from 30 to 90 total spaces) and we will add 73 new preschool spaces (from 52 to 125). In 2021, we will also implement a new policy that gives enrollment preference for families eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch. You can learn more about our admissions process at this link.
We recently broke ground on the renovation of a new building at 4209 Folsom Avenue, just two blocks from our current campus, and in July 2020 we launched the City Garden Montessori Institute, housing a Teacher Education Program. In the coming years, we will open additional schools in other parts of St. Louis, and we will launch a Center for Equity to lead racial equity systems change work.
You can find details about our new building and our growth below.
We are so excited about this next phase of City Garden’s growth! We look forward to building more community with you and to partnering more with you to create learning environments where every child can flourish.
Thank you for believing in a world of justice and possibility, and for the many ways you make our mission come to life.
In 2016, City Garden’s board of directors adopted a bold strategic framework, identifying short-term priorities of strengthening our academic program and eliminating academic disparities, and outlining longer-term priorities of further developing our Anti-Biased, Antiracist (ABAR) Montessori model so that it can be replicated and shared, developing training programs and opportunities for adults to implement this model, and developing an organizational and financial structure that supports this vision and allows for significant growth.
In 2018, City Garden went through a comprehensive strategic planning process with Bellwether Education Partners and adopted a strategic plan that builds upon the 2016 strategic framework. Over the next ten years, we will:
• Codify our program model and support our teachers, maximizing the rigor and results of ABAR Montessori education;
• Launch a training institute to prepare adults to lead ABAR Montessori classrooms in our schools and beyond;
• Grow our current school and open three new schools, ultimately serving over 2,300 students across St. Louis; and
• Build a Center for Equity to house efforts around community organizing, policy advocacy, and coalition building in our communities.
You can read our strategic plan at this link.
We have been working diligently to act on the priorities of our strategic framework and to build organizational capacity to set the stage for growth.
We are thrilled to share that we have launched the City Garden Montessori Institute, and we are now ready to welcome new children into the City Garden Community!
In order to support the growth of our current school, in June 2019, we purchased a new building at 4209 Folsom, located two blocks from our current school at 1618 Tower Grove Avenue. This building is approximately 53,000 square feet and will house our 1st through 8th grade students, starting in 2021-22. We also purchased a small building and lot at 4202 Folsom, which provides office space and outdoor play space.
We are proud to partner with IFF, HKW Architects, and Simms Building Group, and many financial partners to bring this new building to fruition.
You can view the drawings for the 4209 Folsom building at this link. Thanks to all of you who gave input into the design of the building. The team at HKW Architects has worked to incorporate our staff’s, students’ and parents’ feedback to create a design that centers students and is tailored to our community’s needs. It is exciting to begin envisioning our classrooms in the new building, and how life will look and feel in our new space.
As we work on construction of our new building at 4209 Folsom, we will also be preparing 1618 Tower Grove Avenue to house our expanded Primary (early childhood) program. In Fall 2021, we are planning for all nine classrooms on the first floor of 1618 Tower Grove Avenue to be used for preschool and Kindergarten. The second floor at 1618 will house the City Garden Montessori Institute and offices. We are working with our Primary team to create detailed plans for building modifications that will best support our youngest learners and their Guides.
We have been discussing and planning for growth for a few years, and in 2021 it’s happening!
We are expanding our enrollment for 2021-22 in the following ways:
• We are increasing Kindergarten spaces from 30 to 90
• We are increasing Preschool spaces from 56 to 125
Open enrollment began October 1st, and the deadlines are February 25th for Kindergarten and March 12th for Preschool. We have made some changes to our enrollment preference structure for the 2021-22 school year (see below) in order to meet our goal of enrolling 50% or more Free or Reduced Lunch eligible students in both Kindergarten and Preschool, and to enroll at least 50% Students of Color. Ms. Catrina Davis has joined us part-time to coordinate student recruitment and outreach efforts. Welcome, Catrina!
We also have a committee of staff, parents, and board members reviewing our catchment areas and determining whether we will make changes in the future in order to meet our enrollment goals. Your very own PAC President, Tiffany Anthony, has filmed a brief video providing some context about these enrollment changes. Please click below to watch the video!
We are working hard to make sure we have the resources to sustain our current school operations and to support our growth and our new building.
For this school year, our goal is to raise $905,000 for our regular annual operating budget in order to support financial assistance for preschool students, our family support fund and family support services, teacher training and professional development, technology, special education, learning materials and supplies, Fab Friday enrichment opportunities, our Parent Action Committee, staff salaries and building expenses. To date, we have raised $228,737.
Instead of holding a gala this year, we will host a virtual fundraising campaign and event on April 21-22 called Bloom Anew. It will be fun and festive, and there will be opportunities for everyone to participate.
We are also preparing to launch a Capital Campaign! This Campaign will support the renovation of 4209 Folsom, expansion of our Primary program, the development and growth of the City Garden Montessori Institute, and the launch of our Center for Equity.
Our Capital Campaign goal is $7.6 million, with $5.1 of that supporting the $16.5 million renovation and build-out of the 4209 Folsom building. The Capital Campaign will last from now until December 2022. We will continue to raise approximately $900,000-$1,000,000 for our annual budget, in addition to the Capital Campaign.
Prior to launching the campaign, we have secured the following support for growth and for our new building. We are grateful for the tremendous support of our lead donors.
• $1,000,000 from an individual donor, which supported the purchase of 4209 Folsom Avenue.
• $1,500,000 over five years from the US Department of Education, which is supporting the Teacher Education Program and will pay for Montessori materials, furniture and technology for our new classrooms.
• $500,000 from a local foundation (who wishes to be anonymous), which is supporting the growth of the Preschool—outfitting new Preschool classrooms with Montessori materials and furniture, hiring new lead and assistant guides and a Director of Early Childhood Education, and making minor changes to 1618 Tower Grove Avenue.
• $2,000,000 over five years from The Opportunity Trust, which is supporting staff salaries, technology, the Teacher Education Program, curriculum codification, and anti-bias, antiracism training and support.
• $4,000,000 in New Market Tax Credits, which will help fund 4209 Folsom.
• $40,000 through individual donations to support the implementation of our strategic plan.
We are also close to securing the following support:
• We are finalists for a $500,000 grant from a national funder, which will support hiring additional Kindergarten lead and assistant guides and other staff for next school year, as well as learning materials and curricular needs.
• We are awaiting approval of approximately $4,000,000 in State and Federal Historic Tax Credits, which will help fund 4209 Folsom.
We look forward to sharing more about the Capital Campaign with you soon, and we invite you to get involved.