Elad Gross, ’06

Activism and Politics


Michael Melinger

Elad Gross, Class of 2006, now spends his time as an activist.

When Elad Gross, 2006 Clayton graduate, walked into St. Louis City Hall on Jan. 30, he fully expected to get arrested.

In the midst of the subzero temperatures felt throughout the Midwest early this year, Gross organized a protest with the goal of opening up more homeless shelters throughout the city. Gross and his fellow protesters staged a sit-in in City Hall but were eventually asked to leave by police officers.

Although Gross was ready to submit himself to the police, one officer changed his mind. Instead of spending time arresting Gross, he explained how he would rather be out on the streets, looking for people in need of a warm place to stay.

Gross’ frustration at issues like these in his hometown inspired him to launch a campaign for the office of Missouri Attorney General. However, his passion for social justice began much earlier, as a student in the Clayton School District.

To Gross’ family, the value of education could not be understated. His mother was raised in a poor household in Israel, but was given opportunities later in life through her own schooling. To allow Gross to attend CHS, his family rented a home on Clayton’s border with University City.

“It wasn’t great,” Gross said. “It was falling apart on top of us, but we could afford it. That’s how I got to go to school here.”

Gross, known as “Potter” throughout his high school days, was a football fanatic, track enthusiast and science-loving geek. He loved his time at CHS and built lasting relationships with his friends and teachers, especially with Roz McCoy. He once served a two-week stint as the school’s secretary, covering for her when she was out sick.

After high school, Gross continued his love for learning at Duke University, where he was introduced to the DukeEngage program. This program gave students the opportunity to travel and do charity work anywhere in the world. However, instead of traveling abroad, Gross chose to return to St. Louis and began his first nonprofit organization within the St. Louis school system. For the past 11 years, he has given underprivileged students in the city area a chance to continue to learn through classes taught by local high school students.

Gross hopes that he can make a difference in his community, and he wants to inspire students, teachers and voters to keep fighting for what they believe in.

“If we do get involved, and we do it the right way, there is so much change that we can make,” Gross said.