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Optimism and Empowerment for Change through On the Table

The 2019 On the Table Impact Report highlights the results of the surveys taken after the CCCF’s second annual day of community conversations on Oct. 22, 2019. Respondents indicated optimism about their communities, showed confidence about the future, and prioritized opportunities for improvement. To support actionable ideas that address community priorities spurring from the 2018 On the Table Impact Report, the Community Foundation is awarding $19,600 in “Beyond the Table” mini-grants. Complete survey results and grant information are available on the On the Table website.

An estimated 2,160 people across Lexington and Richland Counties participated in more than 200 On the Table conversations. The event, powered by the Community Foundation, is a one-day opportunity for residents to gather over mealtime conversations and explore how they can work together to make our communities stronger.

On the Table brings thousands of local residents together to discover how we can work to make our community a better place,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “The conversations inform our community’s next steps. The information in the Impact Report provides valuable data that helps us move beyond the table — to connect with our neighbors, learn about community issues, and take action to make our dreams a reality.”

Conversations were held among people from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds. Topics ranged from youth entrepreneurship to nonprofit collaboration, gentrification and community building. They took place across the community in public parks, restaurants, places of worship, schools, and neighborhood centers. After On the Table, participants were encouraged to complete a survey about their experience and topics discussed. The survey was conducted and analyzed by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies.

“Events like this are really important,” says Shannon Staley, On the Table participant. “We had a multi-racial, multi-generational, male and female group. We explored ideas about how our culture is different from urban and rural ones, and ones in other countries that have more opportunities to encounter new people. We have to be much more intentional about meeting people. This was a perfect chance to do that.”

Survey participants from all walks of life

A total of 565 participants responded to the On the Table survey, including young adults, people with disabilities, single-parent families, and senior citizens. Of all participants, 82% are involved in community and neighborhood activities, 88% voted in the most recent election, and 71% have lived in the community for more than 11 years.

A feeling of hope for the future

The majority of respondents feel their community is the perfect place for them, that residents have shared goals and priorities, and that their community provides opportunities for everyone. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) said that Richland and Lexington Counties welcome people who move there from somewhere else, and 93% say they would recommend the counties as a place to live. Participants are optimistic for the future, with eight in 10 (79%) who are more hopeful than worried about what the future holds for the community, and seven in 10 (72%) believing their community will be a better place to live in five years. The full survey results are available here.

Empowered to make an impact with community priorities

Economic issues and poverty were the most discussed issues during On the Table. Survey respondents identified economic development (43%) and poverty and economic security (37%) as their top priorities. Participants expressed a desire to get involved to improve their community, but say they struggle to identify specific ways to do so. More than nine in 10 (91%) believe that coming together from across the region is essential for addressing community challenges. Nearly all participants (94%) said they are likely to take a specific action regarding an issue or solution they discussed at On the Table.

Trained speakers are available to discuss the 2019 Impact Results 

Members of the 2019 Impact Results speakers group are available to speak with organizations interested in learning more. If you’re interested in having a speaker talk to your organization or group about key findings and opportunities to strengthen our community, email us or call 803-254-5601.

Beyond the Table mini-grants announced

To inspire On the Table participants to take action on the ideas discussed, the Foundation introduced “Beyond the Table” mini-grants in 2018, which are awarded to nonprofit organizations or individuals with a fiscal sponsorship. Applications were reviewed by a committee composed of community members. The Community Foundation awarded $19,600 in “Beyond the Table” mini-grants to 11 projects, all of which address at least one of the 10 issues identified as a community priority in the 2018 On the Table survey. This year’s recipients include the following:

  • Columbia Children’s Theatre: The production of a family-friendly original play focused on seeing disabilities as abilities.
  • Congaree Riverkeeper: Volunteer river and stream cleanups that will be focused on improving our local parks, educating the public, and collecting data.
  • Girl Scout Troup 1929: Construction of a kiosk in Sesquicentennial State Park that will inform people on the principles and importance of Leave No Trace.
  • Homeless No More: The creation of a community garden in the Two Notch Road area will create a space for the community to gather and will provide local food.
  • Ivy Heritage Foundation of Irmo, Inc.: Financial literacy workshops and entrepreneur training for Refugee Women from Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Latino Communications CDC: A program, titled “Chicas Chat,” that will bring together young Latinas and mentors to address the cultural, generational, and religious rifts young Latinas face.
  • Midlands Fatherhood Coalition: A workplace program that will provide employers and employees information and resources on fatherhood and parenting.
  • New Bethel Foundation: A program focused on filling youth’s downtime during holidays and spring vacation with positive activities.
  • Reconciliation Ministries SC: Community meals will bring people together from various socioeconomic statuses, ages, races, and genders.
  • Serve & Connect: Programs and a community celebration for “Charlotte’s Girls,” a grassroots, community-led initiative that empowers young women.
  • Sustainable Midlands: Community meetings focused on bringing individuals together to discuss agricultural and ecotourism opportunities for Lower Richland Communities.

For more information on “Beyond the Table” mini-grants, click here.

Ignited by a national initiative

On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation is part of a national initiative funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014.

Support for On the Table advances Knight Foundation’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory. On the Table Cola is also generously funded by First Citizens Bank.

For more information about On the Table, visit the website or call 803-254-5601.