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Category 6

Diversity, Equity + Inclusion

Cortex is advancing a new model of urban regeneration and community development rooted in a relentless commitment to authentic collaboration and social, economic and ecological innovation.

Ideal Future State

Cortex is a vibrant innovation community serving as an inclusive economic engine for the St. Louis region.

Why Important

Districts that embrace equity identify and acknowledge the people most vulnerable to change. These districts experience stronger and longer-lasting growth. After all, the more diverse an ecosystem, the stronger it is. Cortex has the opportunity to meaningfully participate, lead, and thrive through equity.

Objectives / Targets

  • 50% of the staff are people of color and graduates of talent training programs will be 70% women or people of color.
  • Staff annual review includes assessment of DEI professional development activities and capacity.
  • 100% of staff have access to annual professional development opportunities.
  • 15% of all Cortex based events that require purchase of a ticket are eligible for scholarships.
  • 50% of Cortex program speakers, faculty, facilitators, advocates and advisors are people of color or women.
  • 30% of promotional partners include organizations that embrace DEI practices (principals or reach).
  • 100% of all marketing materials have diverse representation of contributors, models, stock photos, participants (race, class, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation as appropriate).
  • Career pathways and training are available to 100% of Cortex staff.
  • All bid requests (RFP/RFQ) must require a 30% XBE company participation in teams.
  • 30% of businesses under BIPOC ownership within the District.
  • 25% of any new housing developments must include workforce or affordable units and diversity of types.
  • Establish targets for inclusionary and participatory zoning (with a City empowerment zone partnership).
  • Income and race inequality are reduced within the District’s workforce.
  • Job quality in the District is enhanced (coordinate with future DEI targets).
  • Job growth within the District is higher than in traditional sectors in Missouri.


Current DEI targets previously established in the Cortex Strategic Plan (2022).


Need to be established/adopted from current DEI targets.

Immediate Steps

Survey existing tenants to establish DEI baselines.

Short-Term Steps

Identify opportunities for STEAM educational workshops targeted at youth with pathways to prosperity than include internships and jobs. Identify key community stakeholders to help administer these programs.

Long-Term Steps

Report out on all DEI initiatives.


Cortex’s commitment to Diversity, Equity + Inclusion can be our biggest superpower. All sustainability targets should be seen through the DEI lens first to uncover new approaches to achieving deep reductions in energy, water, carbon, resources, and waste through creative partnerships.