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Results from On the Table initiative released to public

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On the Table Greater Akron logo

On Thursday, Akron Community Foundation released the survey results from its On the Table Greater Akron event that took place on Oct. 3, 2017. The results were announced at a community forum at the John S. Knight Center, where nearly 500 people gathered to hear the outcomes firsthand.

Community foundation leaders presented findings from a report that summarized the responses of approximately 3,600 people who participated in the survey following last year's discussion. The report, which was compiled and assessed by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE), revealed the top five concerning community issues.

They included: economic issues and poverty (38 percent identified this as an issue); equity and social inclusion (31 percent); drugs and addiction (31 percent); education and youth development (30 percent); and public safety and judicial system (21 percent).

"IPCE collected really thought-provoking data, but we were especially interested in what participants view as the top issues facing our community," said John Garofalo, vice president of community investment at Akron Community Foundation. "That information, along with information gathered during a recent community assessment, is currently being used to help drive our proactive grantmaking strategy, a new approach for us."

Akron was one of 10 cities across the U.S. selected to organize an On the Table event last year through funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Led by Akron Community Foundation, the effort brought an estimated 6,000 residents together to discuss pressing community issues in small mealtime conversations.

Following the event, participants had the opportunity to complete a survey about the issues and solutions they discussed. Of those who participated in the survey, 86 percent expressed a willingness to take action by getting more involved in their community, building relationships and collaborating, or raising awareness and educating others.

On the Table organizers hope to harness that motivation by encouraging participants to host conversations during the 2018 On the Table Greater Akron event, which will again take place on Oct. 3 with support from Knight Foundation. Now in its second year, the initiative will focus on addressing the top five issues that emerged in 2017 to help move the needle in those key areas.

"With this survey we hope to extend the impact of On the Table, which provided a forum for civil discourse and discussion about issues most important to Akronites. In this way, the initiative will help to create an Akron shaped for and by residents," said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation program director for Akron.

For the first time this year, Akron Community Foundation will also introduce the On the Table Community Impact Awards, a grant program offering up to $2,000 for actionable ideas developed out of the conversations. More information about applying for this funding will be available closer to the October event.

Results from the 2017 On the Table Greater Akron event, including an overview report, the full report and the data set, are available at www.onthetableakron.com/Results. For more information about the On the Table event and related grant opportunities, visit www.akroncf.org/grantmaking-initiatives/on-the-table/.

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