Forum photos

More than 100 residents took part in the Community Foundation’s Equity Initiative Advisory Group town hall forum, the culmination of the group’s work and discussion over the last several months.

Focusing on education, workforce development, income and wealth, criminal justice, and quality of life and neighborhoods, participants discussed how Utica and the Mohawk Valley can break down historical inequities that have contributed to an uneven quality of life for people of color and other disadvantaged groups. . Each team was asked to report out on the discussion had during the breakout sessions.

“The event gave real voice and valuable support to the work that the advisory group has been deeply engaged in,” said Jawwaad Rasheed, chair of the Community Foundation board. “What we heard here tonight will add to what’s already been done, as the Community Foundation and the entire community work to invest in solutions that make a difference.”

The Community Foundation’s racial equity and social justice initiative is a $10 million, 10-year commitment to address longstanding obstacles to “opportunity for all,” a phrase echoed in the Foundation’s vision for Herkimer and Oneida Counties: “A vibrant region with opportunity for all.” As a result of the advisory group’s work and ongoing engagement such as Wednesday’s forum and the effort, the Community Foundation will work with nonprofit partners, businesses and local governments to fund, support and lead programs and services that address challenges the community has identified as priorities.

“This is a community-wide effort, and it’s going to take sustained effort over time to make real progress,” said Alicia Fernandez Dicks, president/CEO of the Community Foundation. “Our commitment is the largest we’ve ever made, and thanks to those who turned out tonight, and our many dedicated partners, we know this effort will make a great community even better.”

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