A Little Bit makes a big difference

A St. Louis CEO (with a Super Bowl ring) works on solutions to the systemic problems of poverty.

Miranda Walker Jones surrounded by children
Little Bit Foundation CEO Miranda Walker Jones, BA ’97, poses with some of the 14,000 students that the organization serves by providing clothing, shoes, hygiene kits, dental supplies, food and other school essentials. Photo courtesy of Miranda Walker Jones.

Published on Show Me Mizzou April 30, 2024
Story by Blaire Leible Garwitz, MA ’06

A part-time job at Mizzou led Miranda Walker Jones to a Super Bowl ring and a life dedicated to community service. “I worked closely with the football team through my job in the athletics dining hall,” says Jones, BA ’97. “The relationships I built helped me land a community and public relations job with the St. Louis Rams my senior year. I loved bringing Rams players out to work in the community. It was also pretty cool to earn a Super Bowl Ring when they won in 2000!”

Jones spent the next two decades working with nonprofits to stabilize inner-city neighborhoods in St. Louis and serving on the Board of Education in Jennings, Mo. She also got into politics, first as a councilwoman for Jennings and then as district director of Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. However, she quickly realized she didn’t like all the bureaucracy and wanted more of a boots-on-the ground role. When the CEO position at the Little Bit Foundation opened up, Jones felt it was the perfect fit. 

The Little Bit Foundation focuses on breaking down barriers to educational equity for St. Louis-area students living in poverty by providing them with what they need to stay in school and succeed. “It’s hard to concentrate in the classroom if you’re hungry,” Jones says. “If you’re missing school because it’s cold and you don’t have a coat, you’re not getting the education needed to break the cycle of poverty.”

Little Bit currently serves 14,000 students in 48 schools (56 by the end of 2024). The organization stocks a boutique in each school with essentials, including clothing, shoes, hygiene kits, dental supplies and food. It also holds an annual winter coat drive and offers health screenings, literacy programs, STEM curriculum, and college and career planning to its students. This year, Little Bit hired case managers to work with families on immediate needs such as food security, mental and physical health, transportation, clothing, toiletries, rent and utilities. The overall goal? To find solutions to the systemic problems of poverty.

Jones credits Mizzou for helping her break her own cycle of poverty. “I’m from East St. Louis, a very under-resourced community,” she says. “Thanks to my village of support at Mizzou and my campus involvement, especially with the Legion of Black Collegians, I was able to succeed. My experience at Mizzou served as my training ground for helping others break that poverty cycle, too.”

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