Who are we?
In June 2014, over 100 caring citizens came together to talk and learn about the great attributes of our community, the ills and issues, and what concerns people about poverty in central Iowa. The group represented four sectors in equal numbers: business leaders and philanthropists, government and school leaders, non-profit and faith leaders and community members who have lived these experiences first-hand and who will most benefit if we are successful. The lived experience group provided invaluable insight and included single parents, low-wage and low-skilled workers, immigrants and refugees, young people and those burdened with too much debt. This was just the beginning of a year-long journey that has brought us to OpportUNITY Summit: Bringing the Plan to Life to Reduce Poverty in Central Iowa.
Although many people have been involved during the past year, we need many more to commit to actions, large and small to implement the plan and make poverty reduction and prosperity for al a reality. The plan represents the many faces of poverty, the numerous stories we have heard about people wanting to see relationships built in neighborhoods so people care about one another. Our community members want and need education and job training, good jobs that will support their families, safe and affordable housing, assurance that their children and seniors will not go hungry, and neighborhoods that are thriving with local business and safe streets. No one would consider these expectations or wants that go beyond reason; they are what all of us want for ourselves and our families.
During the year-long journey, we have worked hard to build a foundation that identified the most pressing needs and wants of our neighbors. We strategically studies these needs and wants, listened to community agencies already working on these issues, and determined those priorities that could leverage the existing work and make the difference I the poverty data and in the stories told in our community about the way people are living and how close they are to living their dreams.