Akron, OH – Akron Community Foundation is one of 10 community foundations across the U.S. that will receive funding from the John. S. and James L. Knight Foundation for On the Table, a replication of the successful civic engagement initiative begun by The Chicago Community Trust in 2013.      

On the Table brings residents together in small mealtime conversations to talk about ways to make their neighborhoods stronger, safer and more dynamic. Akron is planning to bring at least 1,000 people together on Oct. 3, 2017, to share a meal, as well as discuss ideas about how to make our community a better place to live and work. Conversations will focus on tackling pressing community challenges, such as affordable housing, race relations, urban design and public space improvements.
On the Table originated in Chicago in 2013 and continued last year, when The Chicago Community Trust convened more than 55,000 Chicago-area residents who shared meals, discussed pressing community issues and brainstormed ideas for addressing those issues. The Trust used data from On the Table to inform the development of its comprehensive strategic plan. According to John Garofalo, vice president of community investment for Akron Community Foundation, the timing of the local On the Table initiative aligns with one of the community foundation’s strategic priorities to identify and make more proactive community investments in Summit County.

“This will elevate our civic conversation,” Garofalo said. “We hope to bring at least 1,000 people together across the county to identify the community’s biggest issues and how we can work together to tackle them with ideas and potential funding. We also hope this event will spark more collaborations and relationships among residents here in Summit County, which will benefit us all.”

Other cities receiving Knight Foundation funding for On the Table are: Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Georgia; Detroit; Gary, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; Long Beach, California; Miami; Philadelphia; and San Jose, California.

“The expansion of On the Table will help create a connected network of people across our nation who are working to make our communities stronger and more successful, while sharing lessons about how local residents can collaborate to begin working on pressing challenges,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations. “With community foundations like Akron Community Foundation leading the effort, the information gathered through this initiative will tap into local residents’ interests and aspirations, informing decisions about new investments and engaging local policy and decision-makers.”

Support for On the Table is one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts 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.

To learn more about Akron’s On the Table initiative and to get involved, contact John Garofalo at 330-436-5624 or jgarofalo@akroncf.org.