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FOCUS News: Leadership

Martin L. Mathews & Rev. Chet Cantrell named FOCUS St. Louis 2015 Leadership Award Honorees

Monday, February 09, 2015   (0 Comments)
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FOCUS St. Louis® is proud to honor Martin L. Mathews, Emeritus President and co-founder of Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and Reverend Chet Cantrell, Executive Director of the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, with the 2015 Leadership Awards. These prestigious awards are presented annually to individuals who demonstrate remarkable and courageous community leadership, have meaningful impact on the community, and encourage strong community leadership in others. FOCUS will present the awards at the What's Right with the Region! celebration on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at the Sheldon Concert Hall in Grand Center.


“These two men have dedicated their lives to serving the youth of our region and building stronger communities in the process – on both sides of the river,” said Mark Lindgren, board president of FOCUS St. Louis. “Martin Mathews’ contributions and accomplishments are well-known across St. Louis and beyond, and he is an inspiration to us all. While St. Louisans may not be as familiar with Chet Cantrell, his work in East St. Louis over the past 25 years and vision for the future also embody the true spirit of this award.”


Martin L. Mathews has dedicated more than a half century of his life to community service, developing innovative programs for thousands of young people. In 1960, Mathews co-founded the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ Club and served as its president and CEO until November 2014. The Club, renamed the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club in 2001, serves more than 40,000 youth each year and was declared a model for the country by President Ronald Reagan. Mathews also founded the Mathews-Dickey Motivation, Vocation and Preparation (MVP) program to address gang violence and the “Earn and Learn” Program, a training effort that allows young people to earn money as baseball managers, coaches, scorekeepers and umpires. Mathews-Dickey was declared a 21st Century Learning Center by the White House.


Mathews has received numerous local and national awards, including the Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, President's Council on Youth Opportunity, St. Louis Board of Education's Outstanding Community Service, the Washington Times' National Service and American Century, National President's Award of Excellence from Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., the Missouri Athletic Club's Jack Buck Award and an honorary doctorate from Webster University.


A North Carolina native and graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chet Cantrell arrived at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis in 1988. Under his leadership, the center began an aggressive campaign to upgrade the facility and services and to establish long-term strategies to meet the needs of the community. Today, the CAC opens its doors to more than 4,000 youth and their families each year through 24 programs, including afterschool tutoring, organized sports, wellness education, adult education, art classes, computer training and more. Among its successes, Cantrell and the CAC count a 97% graduation rate, compared to 10.7% citywide, and 3% juvenile crime rate, compared with 60% citywide.


In 2012, Rev. Cantrell and the CAC began acquiring approximately 22 acres in the heart of East St. Louis with the goal of transforming it into a healing space for the community. Plans for the transformation are underway and include athletic fields, performing arts stage, community gardens, playgrounds and more.


The St. Louis community is invited to join us to recognize these two men, who have brought hope and opportunities to our region’s youth through their dedicated and visionary leadership.


18th Annual FOCUS St. Louis What’s Right with the Region! Awards
Thursday, May 7, 2015 · 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Sheldon Concert Hall

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