In January 2010, Lauren Wilmore (BSBA 2006) delivered the elevator pitch that eventually helped St. Louis Dancing Classrooms win the $30,000 Incarnate Word award in that year’s YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition. She began: “St. Louis Dancing Classrooms is an in-school residency that uses ballroom dance to build social awareness, instill confidence, and self-esteem in children.” In her own estimation, since then she has delivered that pitch, “more times than I can possibly count.” The success of St Louis Dancing Classrooms in the competition came a year after they had been eliminated in the second round of the previous year’s competition. With entrepreneurial determination and passion, they returned the next year, won the award, and went to work to meet their vision of being in every 5th grade classroom in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
In just over a year, they tripled their number of classrooms, doubled the teaching staff, moved into two new school districts, and developed partnerships with COCA (Center of Creative Arts), Big Brothers Big Sisters, and College Bound. Now, nearly five years later, Lauren and the team at St. Louis Dancing Classrooms has impacted hundreds of students in over 30 schools all across St. Louis. St. Louis Dancing classrooms is truly special. Students are taught the value of respect for themselves and others. Gentlemen kindly ask their ladies “May I have this dance, please?” and from there the lessons begin. Each session culminates in a public performance in front of family and friends and participating students even get the opportunity to compete to earn a spot in the Colors of the Rainbow Ballroom Dance Championship at the end of the school year. Be sure to follow St Louis Dancing Classrooms on Facebook to get continuous updates of their progress and uplifting stories of their success.