The St. Louis American Foundation’s annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala, commonly known as Salute – is something that has to be experienced in order to truly describe.

Discussing the gowns, the tuxes and the overall glamour as guests make their way across the red carpet, up the escalator and into the grand ballroom of America’s Center are not enough. Seeing the tables adorned with decorations by Jeanetta Hawkins and her Personal Touches by Jeanetta team will put any celebrity wedding or Hollywood awards show to shame. You simply have to come in order to comprehend the magnitude of the experience that happens when an entire community gets glammed up and gather for the sake of celebrating what is often a mostly unsung field.

Saturday, September 21 will mark the 32nd year that the best and brightest of black St. Louis – and the region at large – get dressed to the nines and head out on the town for the sake of pouring resources into and honoring the work of those within the field of education. Student scholars, educators, individuals as well as institutions that have contributed to the field will be celebrated by the guests who file in by the hundreds. More than $1.2 million in scholarships will be awarded at the 2019 gala. Yes, you read that correctly. More than $1.2 million, this year alone, will be bestowed to worthy students. Sowing into them will ultimately benefit the region – and the nation in ways that are beyond measure. The tireless and often thankless work of educators will be praised and honored. And to top it off, it’s a good time both in the fellowship of the gala, the looks served and the fun had through the jazz cabaret and after-party night caps.

“Salute is one of those nights that make you proud to be black, from St. Louis and within the field of education,” said Jami Ballentine Dolby, development director for Maryville University.

Guests get dressed up, step out to enjoy the program and get down during the after set activities. 

This year, The Coleman Hughes Project featuring Adriane will be making their debut at the J. Hawk Jazz Cabaret. And DJ Sir Thurl will return to the tables as the official DJ of the Old School Party presented by Premiere Production Choice.

“For it to be done on the level that it is each year and consistently bring people out looking their best when they go in and feeling their best when they leave out – I don’t know what else to say except that it’s special,” Dolby said. “It’s something on my social calendar that simply cannot be missed.” 

The St. Louis American Foundation’s 32nd Annual Salute to Excellence in Education will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 21st at America’s Center. The old School Party and J. Hawk Jazz Cabaret will commence immediately following the dinner and formal program. For tickets or additional information, visit or call (314)533-8000.

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