FR=EE Accomplishments: December 2015 – May 2016
- FR=EE convened a community partnership to pursue US Department of Labor Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) funds to provide child care access to low-income parents seeking to further their education and professional development. ABC devoted significant resources to this planning process in support of FR=EE’s employment equity goals.
- Youth from schools that had participated in FR=EE’s “I’m Not Racist Am I” program in 2015 (Brighton, Fairport and Irondequoit) organized a youth summit in January 2015 to focus their peers on the role of race. A second summit has been planned for May 2016 in partnership with FR=EE’s Youth Leadership Committee. The committee has developed plans for a second phase of “I’m Not Racist Am I” that will involve additional school districts in late 2016 to keep this momentum growing.
- FR=EE’s Juvenile and Criminal Justice Workgroup partnered with United Christian Leadership Ministries (UCLM) to hold a daylong Martin Luther King Jr Day summit on violence in January 2016. The event attracted close to 300 members of the public and was well-received by participants.
- The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) issued a report to the community, “Guiding Principles: Mobilizing Our Community to Achieve Self-Sufficiency” in April 2016 that included a strong set of principles regarding structural racism. Those structural racism principles were developed by a workgroup co-convened by James Norman and Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle which included several active participants in FR=EE.
- Kate Bennett, President and CEO of the Rochester Museum and Science Center and co-chair of FR=EE, led several planning meetings of community leaders to determine the future of a racist rounding board from the Dentzel Carousel. Members of FR=EE in their leadership of a community planning team are considering how to use the racist panel for education regarding the history and nature of racism within our community.
- FR=EE launched an internal education program for members to ensure a common understanding of the origins and history of racism and African civilization. By early May, FR=EE’s leaders will have participated in 2 2-hour educational sessions.
- The Community Task Force on School Climate, with significant leadership from FR=EE members, took proposals regarding professional development of staff and code of conduct revisions to the Rochester City School District Board. Kate Bennett, FR=EE co-chair, also addressed the board at that meeting to support the passage of these new policies.
- FR=EE recruited new planning chairs for its 2016 Community Summit on Race: Sandra Woodruff-Whitmore from RIT and Joseph Searles from Excellus.
- FR=EE developed a strategic framework for its future work and detailed planning tools to provide both and internal and external focus to each workgroup and committee’s planning activities for the next two years.
The above observation opens the current draft case statement of the Facing Race, Embracing Equity (FR=EE) community-wide change initiative. The case statement also draws a connection between race/ethnic social inequities and racial/ethnic disparities in such areas as education, housing, health, employment, and the juvenile/criminal justice system. The essential questions driving the FR=EE initiative are: What is the nature of these structural policies and inequities? How do we mobilize to change them? What is it about the invented concept of Race that average citizens need to understand and grapple with? How do we engage in these difficult conversations as individuals, groups and institutions? How do we change the social structures that lead to racial and ethnic disparities?
“DOES RACE MATTER?”
Goal: Educate the general public and students about the concept of race and structural inequity.
“WHO CARES ABOUT THE MATTERS OF RACE?”
Goal: Educate the general public about the many creative individual and community efforts aimed at helping people prevent and overcome the ravages of racial disparities.
“CAN THE SOCIAL NEGATIVES OF RACE BE PREVENTED?”
Goal: Provide community leaders with tools and support to develop and implement policy and procedure changes to reduce and eliminate structural inequality.
“HOW DO WE BUILD SOCIAL EQUITY IN A RACE CONSCIOUS COMMUNITY?”
Goal: Assess and celebrate progress towards establishing structural equity in the Greater Rochester community