United 4 Children is thrilled to announce Jason Purnell as the inaugural Community Champion award winner. This award will be presented on November 12 at the virtual Lighting the Way Gala.

Jason Purnell currently serves as vice president of community health improvement for BJC HealthCare and is on the faculty of the Brown School at Washington University. His tireless efforts to build a more equitable community have consistently improved the lives of children in our region. Like United 4 Children, he boldly envisions a world where every child can thrive regardless of their race or zip code.

In 2013, the landmark For the Sake of All report (now called Health Equity Works) was released as a groundbreaking analysis of the region highlighting social determinants of health and is led by the Brown School. This report provided evidence that inequity in our region including access to quality early childcare education is harming St. Louisans and the wellbeing of the region as whole. Dr. Purnell, through Health Equity Works and its many partners, has helped elevate local and national initiatives on health equity and opportunity. This work is accelerating programs and policy change in schools, neighborhoods, governing bodies, and city halls.

In 2020, Dr. Purnell bravely stepped forward in the face of a pandemic to pull together organizations across a variety of social sectors, establish a system of collaboration, and name racial equity as central to their mission. In doing so, Dr. Purnell elevated childcare and early childhood education as an essential factor in bridging the racial divide. He entrusted United 4 Children to live up to the values and needs of the Regional Response Team, and ensured U4C had the resources and tools necessary to support the childcare industry, providers, families, and children.

“I was introduced to Jason Purnell earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic started” said United 4 Children’s Executive Director, Deanna Finch. “Jason has a vision that will change the trajectory of our children in the community in a positive way. His work is invaluable and his success has been seen in St. Louis. We are delighted to honor Jason Purnell, his dedication to racial equity, the region, and his impact on Early Childhood Education.”

Now, more than ever, our community, childcare providers and funders have stepped up and responded to the pandemic in remarkable ways. They have protected and served our most vulnerable population, our children. United 4 Children will be honoring those and their dedication with an evening of entertainment and awards at the Virtual Lighting the Way Gala Fundraising event on November 12. Join us in celebrating Jason Purnell and other award winners.

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