News & Event
May 1, 2013
In an effort to better understand the racial and ethnic disparities in our community, the African American Giving Initiative of Rochester Area Community Foundation commissioned a book to provide that overview.
The State of Black Rochester 2013: Education + Employment = Equity, a 140-paperback, is a compilation of essays from prominent community leaders and experts and includes current data compiled by ACT Rochester. Proceeds from sales of the book will be used for the Giving Initiative’s future grants in our community.
“It is extremely helpful to know where we have been and what continuing challenges we face as the Giving Initiative and the entire community decide what to support in order to make the greatest impact,” says Dana K. Miller, vice president for advancement at the Community Foundation, who wrote the preface and a summary chapter for the book.
The book, modeled on the National Urban League’s State of Black America, includes essays written on the following topics:
The book opens with a foreword by Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. A chapter on the implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act for minorities, written by Kathleen Rand Reed of Washington, D.C. and an associate editor of Rochester’s About … Time Magazine, also was included.
In the books’ summary chapter, Miller writes that “the challenges preventing people from taking advantage of opportunities can be described in four words: availability, access, awareness, and ability. ... Our mission should be maintaining or increasing the availability and access to opportunities while also finding ways to significantly improve awareness and ability.”
The hope of the Giving Initiative is that the community will use information in The State of Black Rochester 2013 to guide decisions on budgets, spending, philanthropy and development opportunities, Miller says.
Publication of this book was made possible by a $10,000 grant from Rural/Metro Corporation and a $6,000 grant from the Community Foundation.
The African American Giving Initiative, formed in 2011, provides an opportunity for people in the community to combine financial resources and have a say in how the available grant money should be distributed. A group of nearly two dozen people aligned with the Initiative’s mission — to make a positive change in problem areas experienced most strongly within the African American community — have been regularly meeting to discuss ongoing issues, recruitment of new members and plans for the book. Membership levels start at $1,000 a year.
Jim and Carolyne Blount, publishers of About … Time Magazine, assisted with editing, page design and publishing. The book was printed locally by Panther Graphics.
The State of Black Rochester 2013 is available at Mood Makers Books in Village Gate, The Library Store at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Writers & Books, and Baobab Cultural Center for $19.95. Print and e-book versions also can be ordered through Amazon.com.
June 29, 2017
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Rochester Area Community Foundation released State of Play, an independent assessment conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program that examines access, quality, and participation in youth sports in Livingston, Ontario, Monroe, Wayne, Seneca, and Yates counties.
“Research shows active children do better in life,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program. “They’re healthier, more often go on to college, and as they move into adulthood are more likely to raise active kids. So how do we get more kids off the couch, without running them into the ground?”
Farrey said answering that question starts with a clear-eyed account of how well a community is currently serving kids through sports. “We hope this report — the first of its kind nationally — provides valuable insights that can help mobilize stakeholders.”
Among the 40-plus findings in the report:
“Our vision is to have a Greater Rochester community in which all children, regardless of ZIP code or ability, have the opportunity to be active through sports,” said David O. Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The State of Play report identifies the challenges we face as a region, but more importantly, it also shares the opportunities that all of us in the community — parents, educators, funders, and leaders — can pursue for improvement.”
In State of Play, sport refers to all forms of physical activity which, through organized or casual play, aim to express or improve physical fitness or well-being.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation commissioned the report and partnered with the Community Foundation to create and oversee a Youth Sports Task Force for the Rochester Region, comprised of more than three dozen representatives of youth sports, recreation programs, and local communities who provided insights, expertise and feedback throughout the eight-month research process.
“For the first time ever, we have a clear picture of what the state of youth sports looks like in our region,” said Jennifer Leonard, President and CEO, Rochester Area Community Foundation. “State of Play is a playbook that will drive community conversation and action around how we can collectively and effectively address youth sports for years to come.”
More than 1,000 local adults and youth informed the State of Play report through interviews, roundtables, focus groups and surveys. The Aspen Institute analyzed the region through its existing framework of eight strategies, or “plays,” designed to increase sport participation with urban, suburban, and rural youth.
The eight “plays” include:
While the State of Play report and an expanded local task force will help to inform grantmaking strategies for the Community Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the broader hope is that the region’s communities will begin to engage in this conversation and collectively rally around our youth. The two foundations are planning to host a series of community roundtables and discussions in the near future.
This fall, Rochester Area Community Foundation will announce grant opportunities for the new Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports. The overarching goal will be to strengthen the quality, quantity, and accessibility of youth sports and recreation programs for children under age 18 in the region.
Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes’ State of Play is one of three regional youth sports and recreation studies commissioned by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, in partnership with community foundations in Greater Buffalo and Southeast Michigan. These are the Foundation’s primary regions for investment and were the home and adopted home of the Foundation’s namesake, the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., a Detroit area native and lifelong resident, and founder and long-time owner of the Buffalo Bills professional football team.
To receive updates and learn more about upcoming efforts to improve the local state of play, visit RCWJRF.org/StateofPlay.
Learn more about why youth sports and recreation are so important to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation efforts here, in Buffalo, and Southeast Michigan by watching this video.
September 20, 2018
In August 2017, the Community Foundation and ACT Rochester expanded their reporting on racial inequities with a report called “Hard Facts: Race and Ethnicity in the Nine-County Greater Rochester Area.”
The regional report showed wide and persistent gaps in educational and economic outcomes among residents of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, affecting individuals and families throughout their lives and for generations to come. Even more shocking was the more severe disparity in our region compared to New York State and the country.
Community leaders thanked ACT Rochester for sharing this compelling data. Requests came in to talk with groups about the findings. Community workshops attracted hundreds interested in learning more. Discussion of the disparities was featured during the celebration of Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday in 2018.
Then something unexpected happened: ACT Rochester Senior Director Ann Johnson got a request to speak to the sixth-grade class at Genesee Community Charter School. Then a fourth-grade teacher in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District called to say his students wanted to talk about the report’s findings.
“These young students gave me hope,” said Johnson. “They care. They wanted to know why people of color are treated differently than whites and what we can do to change things. They ask tough questions and they are not afraid to be bold.”
In the fourth-grade classroom of Shane Wiegand at Sherman Elementary School, students peppered Johnson with questions, all starting with the phrase “I wonder:”
Before discussing “Hard Facts,” the students had studied redlining in Rochester and segregation through the stories of Ruby Bridges and Martin Luther King, Jr. They also watched The Children’s March and clips from July ’64, the story of Rochester’s riots.
One day, Khaliat Bishi, who is Nigerian-American, and Simra Hamad, who is Pakistani, both commented that they have never had a teacher who looked like them. Together with Bailey O’Connor, who is white, these three spent many lunch periods gathering data on their school and the Rush-Henrietta Central School District.
They referenced U.S. Census data and WXXI reports on the racial makeup of teachers in Monroe County, along with ACT Rochester data on poverty. They identified just one African American teacher in their school and fewer than a dozen teachers of color throughout the very diverse district. The three girls assembled a PowerPoint presentation and met with their school principal and the district’s two assistant superintendents to share their findings.
“I was very impressed,” said Nerlande Anselme, assistant superintendent for student and family services, who is from Haiti. “They had a thesis, did their research, and in their presentation asked, ‘Do you see this as a problem in Rush-Henrietta?’ I said ‘Yes.’ ”
At the urging of its school board, this suburban Monroe County district is making diversity a priority. Wiegand is a member of a new 40-member Diversity Steering Committee that includes teachers, administrators, students, parents, community representatives, and leaders that is gathering ideas and discussing strategies for recruitment and ways to be more inclusive. The district recently hired its first African American superintendent.
Hoping to Make Our Community Better
Genesee Community Charter School teacher Chris Dolgos read “Hard Facts” and believed it should be incorporated into the sixth-grade curriculum because it’s important for his students who are our community’s future citizens “to discover what it does take to make change happen.” It also dovetailed nicely with the yearlong theme of “Bridges and Barriers.”
The 30 sixth-graders’ initial reaction to the report was, “This is not okay. Why are adults letting this happen?” Their research went deep into issues related to affordable housing, poverty, and racism, and they explored ways for Rochester to be more inclusive. They asked great questions: “Why does our community look like it does? Why are some parts shiny and flashy and others are boarded up?”
“ACT Rochester shares information and provides the ‘what’ and ‘why,’ but people have to figure out the ‘how,’ ” Dolgos told his students.
With aspects of “Hard Facts” data on their minds, the students divided into four groups that visited either Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Oakland, or Detroit. Students met with city leaders and community groups to learn about that city’s problems and how they were being addressed. They also looked for ideas to bring back home. Students presented their findings to parents and the school community and created a “Whose Renaissance Is It?” Adobe Spark page, which outlines their research into Rochester’s past and their hopes for its future.
The sixth graders also wanted to show their support for Rochester. With a grant from Expeditionary Learning Education’s Better World Project — and help from local artist Shawn Dunwoody — they painted inspirational murals in each quadrant of the city. At School 12, they invited their family members and several dozen students from other Rochester schools to help with ambitious murals that cover sidewalks and several walls.
Paul Schramm, whose 12-year-old son was in the class, thought the conversations and research into race, poverty, and inequities were well timed. “These kids are very much aware of what keeps things separate today, and it’s never too early to discuss it.”
Top photo above: Sherman Elementary School students Bailey O’Connor, Khaliat Bishi, and Simra Hamad, with fourth-grade teacher Shane Wiegand (photo by Caleb Parker).
Second photo: After completing murals in each quadrant of Rochester, sixth-graders from Genesee Community Charter School and their mural advisor Shawn Dunwoody returned to each location to sign their names. Here they are at Passaro’s Deli on Clifford Avenue (photo by Erich Camping).
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