Week of community discussions aims to help move region forward
Columbia, S.C., Sept. 28, 2020 — The third annual On the Table initiative — powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy — aims to move the community forward through conversation during the week of Oct. 4-10. With safety in mind, the initiative has been expanded to a full week, and the discussions will take place virtually or socially distanced in groups smaller than 10. Richland and Lexington County residents are encouraged to host a conversation. Register to be a host at www.OnTheTableCola.org.
As our community works to overcome COVID-19 and address longstanding racial equity issues, we have many strengths to draw upon. On the Table offers an opportunity for residents, businesses and organizations to gather for meaningful conversations, build personal connections and explore how people can work together to create a more generous, vibrant and engaged community.
“The need to gather safely and listen to each other is critical as our community works to overcome the challenges we’re currently facing,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “On the Table will gather a diversity of voices across our community for meaningful conversations and will build strong personal connections that can help us create livable, equitable and just communities for everyone.”
Make an Impact by Leading an On the Table Community Conversation
Hosting an On the Table conversation has never been easier. Hosts determine the place, guests, time and topics for their On the Table conversations. All Richland, Lexington and Sumter county residents, nonprofits, places of worship, businesses and other organizations can participate.
New this year, the Community Foundation is providing additional resources to help ensure a week of successful discussions, including the following:
• COVID-19 safety resources: To ensure the safety of all hosts and participants, toolkits, training and resources based on CDC guidelines will be provided for both virtual and socially distanced, in-person gatherings.
• Conversation guides: The Foundation will provide information and guided questions in the areas of education, race relations, civic engagement and poverty — areas of opportunity that were identified in previous years for the community. Hosts can focus on one of these conversation topics or choose a topic of their own.
• Host resources: The Foundation is providing virtual training resources for hosts to learn how to easily guide the conversation. All resources are available at www.OnTheTableCola.org/Host/Host-Resources.
An Expanded, Full Week of Safe and Engaging Conversations
To allow more flexibility in scheduling and time to organize safe conversations, On the Table will take place over a week-long period (from prior years’ one-day discussions) Sunday, Oct. 4 – Saturday, Oct. 10.
To ensure a safe environment for all participants and our community, conversations will take place virtually or in person, following social distancing guidelines. Virtual conversations can take place via Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or any preferred online platform. Socially distanced, in-person conversations can take place at a park, large building or any space where attendees can remain six feet apart and follow the safety guidelines. Hosts wishing to convene more than 10 people are encouraged to plan a virtual conversation.
Community members can easily discover public conversations to attend at www.OnTheTableCola.org/Attend. The new On the Table website now includes a feature that allows people to search for public discussions by location, topic, date and time.
Following On the Table, participants will be asked to complete a short survey about their experiences and topics discussed during their conversation. The Foundation will release a survey report to the public and community leaders highlighting key findings to help guide decisions about the region’s future.
On the Table is funded by First Citizens Bank and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2019, more than 2,160 Richland and Lexington County residents gathered at more than 216 tables to discuss topics ranging from youth entrepreneurship to gentrification and community building.
Beyond the Table Grants to Inspire Action
The Foundation is again awarding Beyond the Table mini-grants based on community priorities identified in last year’s survey. Nonprofit organizations and individuals with a fiscal sponsorship can apply for grants up to $2,000 for a project promoting volunteering, civic engagement, social change or supporting locally owned businesses. Applications will open on Oct. 4. Information about the grants can be found at www.OnTheTableCola.org.
For more information or to sign up to host, visit www.OnTheTableCola.org or call 803.254.5601.
About Central Carolina Community Foundation
Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands' center for philanthropy, is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. Major initiatives include the online giving challenge Midlands Gives, On the Table, Connected Communities grants, the One SC Fund, and annual scholarships. For more information about the Foundation, visit YourFoundation.org or call 803.254.5601.
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