One Common Language

Welcoming New St. Louisans  From Around the World. 


One Common Language

Welcoming New St. Louisans  From Around the World. 


A Melting pot for STL's tomorrow

The film clip above tells the story of the soccer field at Nahed Chapman New American Academy (NCNAA), which was completed by Gateway Welcome Project in September, 2016. The clip is taken from the documentary film Day One, which chronicles the struggles and triumphs of NCNAA students and the dedicated professionals who teach them.

In September of 2016 a construction industry-wide coalition of two dozen organizations, organized by Construction Forum STL, dedicated a $250K soccer field for immigrant/refugee kids and their families at Nahed Chapman New American Academy South Grand Avenue.

Now Gateway Welcome Project, the not-for-profit entity formed during to catalyze that project, is undertaking a bold new venture — the Ray Leisure Soccer Complex.

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Gateway Welcome Project’s partner on this project is LifeWise (the new name for Kingdom House as of June 1, 2019), a GuideStar Platinum-rated community service agency with over a century of providing services to vulnerable populations in South St. Louis. 

This three-soccer-field complex will wrap around the outfield of “(STL) Cardinals Care” baseball diamond in Ray Leisure Park. The fields, shelters, and rain gardens will provide recreational and educational opportunities for the population served by Kingdom House, as well as the nearby schools and neighborhoods and adjacent rec center.  Construction documents and budgets on the project are nearing completion. It is anticipated that the project could be completed by Spring of 2019

Ray Leisure Park is a St. Louis City park at Park Avenue and Tucker Boulevard on the City’s South Side. The City of St. Louis, which will own the completed complex. LifeWise, which is located across Park Avenue from the park, will provide ongoing maintenance.  LifeWise serves approximately 2,500 persons, split roughly 50:50 African American/Hispanic, as well as immigrants/refugees from other nations. There are five housing projects within two blocks of LifeWise and nine schools within a mile. There are no neighborhood outdoor facilities for after-school and family athletic activities. Some area schools use the field for phys-ed. 


The same dedicated team that completed the field at NCAA in 2016 has reassembled. They are joined by new team members who will help with key components of the project, such as environmentally-friendly rain gardens, paving and augmented soils.

In addition to making a statement for the future generations that will use the fields and providing LIfeWise with education possibilities for its youth programs, it is anticipated that the “green” components may qualify the project for MSD “Project Clear” grant dollars.

In addition to approximately $200,000 in in-kind donations that have been pledged toward the project’s $500,000 budget, GWP Ray Leisure Park recently received a $50,000 boost from the ownership of St. Louis’ newly-formed Major League Soccer franchise. The MLS That $25,000 is being matched by a grant from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

“Supporting the creation of the Ray Leisure Park Soccer Complex and helping grow the game of soccer at all levels is very important to us,” said Carolyn Kindle Betz, president of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation and member of the MLS4TheLou Ownership Group. “We have seen firsthand the positive impact soccer can have on communities, so we are excited to help this complex come to life.”


Meet the Future




these kids can make a difference in THE STL Region's future. You can make a difference in theirs.


Meet the Future




these kids can make a difference in THE STL Region's future. You can make a difference in theirs.


The idea that initiated the Gateway Welcome Project was converting a worn, scarred St. Louis Public School playground into a place where young New Americans from around the world could play soccer.

The the success at Nahed Chapman New American Academy morphed into a much larger vision. That vision includes a signature shelter area, landscaping and community gardens, healthy kids initiatives, STEM education opportunities and more.

The Ray Leisure Park Soccer Complex will be a community gathering place, where children from very diverse backgrounds and their families can experience a soccer (football) — a game that has become a universal language. LifeWise has a mission of helping people realize their best possible lives This project aligns with that vision.

To date, the program has involved participation and collaboration Gateway Welcome Project’s Ray Leisure Soccer Complex is receiving support from the following organizations.

  • Bistate Utilities

  • Construction Forum STL 

  • Construction Forum Education Foundation

  • DG2 Design

  • Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council

  • Engraphix

  • Enterprise Holdings Foundation

  • Fred Weber, Inc. 

  • McCarthy Leonard & Kaemmerer

  • Metropolitan Sewer District

  • Midwest Block and Stone

  • Midwest Construction Products and Services

  • Millstone Weber

  • MLS4TheLou

  • Pace Construction

  • St. Louis Composting

  • St. Louis Mosaic Project

  • St. Louis Pick Up Soccer

  • St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club

  • PHL, Inc.

  • St. Louis City Parks Department

  • Tao + Lee Architects

  • Thomas Industrial Coatings

  • SITE Improvement Association



Working together to make a difference


Working together to make a difference

Building a future, learning from one another

As the Gateway Welcome Project has evolved, we have learned from working with one another.

If you'd like to get involved in this collaboration to change the future of immigrant, refugee, and other at-risk youth in the St. Louis region by contributing your time, talent, or treasure, click here. 

Checks payable to Gateway Welcome Project STL can be mailed to:
Construction Forum STL, 3245 Hampton Ave., Second Floor, St. Louis, MO 63139