Collaboration key to poverty focus in Dayton, Ohio.
Since the mid 1990s Dayton, Ohio, has pursued an equity agenda focused on reducing poverty and expanding economic opportunity. The equity agenda came together in the mid-1990s through a confluence of rising concern over Dayton's high poverty rate, increasing crime and racial tensions.
Dayton Commissioner Dean Lovelace has worked with successive mayors, his colleagues on the five-member City Commission, and numerous city agency officials to fight poverty since joining the commission in 1993. Lovelace dates the start of the equity agenda with the beginning of his participation in the National League of Cities' Urban Poverty Leadership Network in 1995. This led to Dayton's 1995 Poverty Reduction Resolution, spearheaded by Lovelace, in which city leaders identified programs and initiatives related to the mission of poverty reduction and took steps to integrate a number of those programs and initiatives related to human services.
A key element of Dayton's equity agenda has been the Dayton Dialogue for Race Relations, an initiative of Lovelace, which provides a forum for Dayton's diverse constituencies to interact and work through tensions without disruptive conflict. (See article below on Dayton Dialogue for Race Relations)
According to NLC President James Hunt, councilmember, Clarksburg, W.Va., "Initiatives like the Dayton Dialogue for Race Relations go to the very heart of the ways that cities can create inclusive communities,"
With limited resources at their disposal, Dayton's civic leaders in and out of government have embraced strategic partnerships with county government, nonprofit service providers and selected private sector stakeholders.
The city generally acts as a facilitator, convener, catalyst and advocate for poverty reduction. As such, Dayton's partnership with the county is the most important of its many collaborative effort.
Lovelace led a collaborative team of Dayton stakeholders, including a key county official who participated in NLC's Workforce Development for Poverty Reduction Project (1997-2001). As a result of that project, the city leveraged the nationally recognized Montgomery County Jobs Center in providing job training and employment services to city residents in need, working with the Center to develop the Targeted Community Based Collaborative (TCBC). The TCBC contracts with 13 intermediary organizations that, in turn, work with more than 70 community-based organizations to conduct outreach to "hard-to-reach" clients in Dayton's low income neighborhoods.
One major source of funding for Dayton's equity initiatives is a countywide human services levy that brings in about $6 million a year to support local programs.
Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin explained how the levy has forced her and other city leaders to articulate an anti-poverty vision that stretches beyond the city limits:
"Because the levy has to pass the whole county, we have started to develop a much stronger relationship with even our richest neighbors to show how poverty impacts them, too," she said. "They have to realize it's not just a Dayton problem, it's a regional problem."
Equity initiatives in Dayton have included youth programs, anti-predatory lending actions, a living wage ordinance for public-sector workers and, more recently, workforce training and placement.
A 2004 public/private sector campaign to raise awareness of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which included free tax preparation sites throughout Dayton's low-income neighborhoods, assisted over two thousand households--in a city of less than 170,000--and processed a total of more than $1.3 million in tax refunds' EITC refunds alone totaled more than $663,000.
Details: The work of NLC's Municipal Action to Reduce Poverty Project is made possible through support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. For more details and links to NLC's complete Dayton city study, go to www.nlc.org and crick on Programs & Services under Resources for Cities; click on Municipal Action to Reduce Poverty Project and scroll down to Dayton.
RELATED ARTICLE: Dayton promising practices--reducing poverty.
Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations
The Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations (DDRR) is a community driven initiative that was launched in 2000 as a forum to improve relations between African Americans and whites in the historically segregated City of Dayton, Ohio.
Modeled after an interracial dialogue used in Richmond, Va., that was developed by Hope in the Cities, the DDRR was initiated by Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace.
"We needed to find a forum for people to interact with each other," said Lovelace, a four-term city commissioner. "We needed to see that city services were being evenly distributed. We needed for people to realize the importance of getting to know one another. This was the basis for starting the dialogues."
This dialogue is intended to provide a non-threatening forum that helps participants move beyond blame, guilt and hatred, to face the past and move forward with new insights.
In a typical dialogue, a dozen participants, balanced by race and sex and led by a trained facilitator, meet several times in homes and churches throughout the city to address issues such as community, ethnicity, discrimination, diversity, social structures and reconciliation.
DDRR works to bring the dialogue process to business, interfaith, professional and civic organizations. It conducts approximately 30 dialogues per year. DDRR is funded through the City of Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, and The Dayton Foundation.
Nearly 4,000 individuals have participated in DDRR. Other organizations in the city that now conduct dialogues are Kiser Middle School, Wright State University, Sinclair Community College and Miami Valley Hospital.
As a result of the dialogues, Dayton's Human Relations Council began processing complaints about discrimination in employment and housing. In addition, the dialogues led to the creation of the Summit Against Institutionalized Racism, which targets practices, policies and procedures, such as predatory lending to communities of color, that perpetuate racism.
Targeted Community-Based Collaborative
In 1999, the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services (MCDJFS) created the Targeted Community Based Collaborative (TCBC), using Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Workforce Investment Act funds. This came about as a result of the participation of the Director of MCDJFS on a Dayton Workforce Development team formed under the National League of Cities' Workforce Development for Poverty Reduction Project.
TCBC is a key component in Dayton's strategy to reduce poverty in specific low-income neighborhoods. The city works together with the county as a team in development and implementation of the TCBC programs that address economic serf-sufficiency and family stability.
The program contracts with community-based and faith-based organizations that operate in the targeted neighborhoods.
Now in its seventh year, TCBC has served an estimated 10,000 clients. Today, there are more than 30 providers and partners offering education and training referrals, placement services, and family crisis information.
The TCBC Program received the National Association of County Officials Achievement Award for 2002 and was highlighted as a significant partner in the U.S. Department of Labor One-Stop Innovators and Youth Council Award.
Details: For more information and links to NLC's complete Dayton City Study, go to www.nlc.org and click on Programs & Services under Resources for Cities; click on Municipal Action to Reduce Poverty Project and scroll down to Dayton.
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|Title Annotation:||MUNICIPAL ACTION TO REDUCE POVERTY|
|Publication:||Nation's Cities Weekly|
|Date:||May 22, 2006|
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