On the Table Conversations Spark Collaboration and Change

January 8, 2019 by On the Table NLN

Over the last five years, communities have leveraged insights from On the Table conversations in a variety of ways. While not an exhaustive list, these are some of the ways communities have used On the Table to bring change to the places where they live:

Chicago and Lake County, Indiana, are just two of the foundations have created funding opportunities for ideas that have come out of On the Table conversations. These monetary awards – ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000 – give On the Table participants a chance to move their ideas into action.

“The Chicago Community Trust has awarded $450,000 to support more than 180 actionable ideas emerging from On the Table. From an event to provide accessible breast cancer screenings for women with disabilities and art workshops for senior citizens to providing local youth with free bike helmets and bicycles, installing little libraries in neighborhoods across the city and more, the Trust has seen the community drive action coming out of these conversations.”
Cheryl Hughes, senior director of civic engagement, The Chicago Community Trust

“Legacy Foundation decided to offer Community Action Awards to encourage participants to turn solutions made during On the Table conversations into actionable projects within their community. To date, the Foundation has awarded $20,000 in Community Action Awards. Anyone who participates in On the Table is eligible to apply, providing the opportunity for a resident to take initiative within his or her community.”
Maranda Fishback, community engagement Ccordinator, Legacy Foundation

Others have used insights from On the Table conversations to inform their grant-making. In Long Beach, California, the community foundation used survey data to direct grant funding to address the most pressing issues identified by conversation participants.

“We learned what was most suspected, that homelessness and housing were the primary concerns on the minds of Long Beach residents. This gave us the fuel we needed to make very specific and targeted grants around those issues and got our Board involved more than ever around the most pressing issues facing our city. The survey data was truly a guiding force to direct our resources in the most effective and efficient way.”
Marcelle Epley, president and CEO, Long Beach Community Foundation

In Lexington, Kentucky and Macon, Georgia, On the Table conversations have informed city/county strategic planning.

On the Table ramped up participation in the Lexington, Kentucky, comprehensive planning process, Imagine Lexington, from hundreds to over 11,000 participants. Imagine Lexington not only benefitted from the volume, but also the diversity of voices due to the accessible format. Every residential zip code was represented, allowing city planning staff a much broader perspective regarding the community’s 20-year vision.”
Lisa Adkins, president and CEO, Blue Grass Community Foundation

In Arkansas, a public-private partnership focused on increasing equity and student achievement in public education, is using the model as a way to engage stakeholder participation in the development of statewide policy recommendations.

“Community voice is so important to the work we do to advance education outcomes for all students in Arkansas. Our ForwARd Together Conversations provided a forum where diverse constituents could share thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing their schools. Their discussions gave our team valuable insights to inform common-sense policy recommendations that we will work to advance in 2019.”
Susan Harriman, executive director, ForwARd Arkansas

Coming to the table, having a conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing your community can be a powerful experience.

A report, supported by Knight, included a survey of more than 12,000 participants in 10 cities who took part in On the Table in 2017, confirmed that the initiative spurred new connections and civic action.

Where have your conversations taken you? Join the National Learning Network and share your stories of impact with other members of the On the Table community.

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