Erie Together was launched in January of 2009 with five year grant support from the Erie Women’s Fund and start up funds from the Erie Community Foundation. The underlying philosophy of this initiative is that poverty is a community issue that requires a comprehensive community wide response in order to alleviate the draining, cyclical impact it has on our community.
The Mercyhurst University Civic Institute, GECAC and the United Way of Erie County organized and have led the Erie Together initiative to this point – and are behind this initiative for the long haul. All three, propose an approach conversant with, and inclusive of, all sectors of our community, that addresses poverty at both systemic and individual levels. The goal: to build human and social capital, improve neighborhoods, and enrich lives, so families and the community will become more economically secure.
GOALS & OUTCOMES
The involvement of existing organizations and initiatives that seek to address poverty is underway. Erie Together has reached out to business, government, faith-based groups, individuals with low-income, educational institutions and non-profit organizations in all aspects of the project to date. We are heartened by the response from nearly 620 local citizens who attended the community forums facilitated by national consultant, Jay Connor and the many who remain committed to the Erie Together initiative.
Consensus and solidarity were achieved through a series of community forums held in February and March of 2011. As a result, the aspiration statement for the Erie Together initiative was written:
“Working together to make the Erie region a community of opportunity where everyone can learn, work and thrive.”
Achieving the aspiration will mean improved access to needed services for individuals and families, and a new/improved process by which efforts to address poverty can continue for the long run effecting systemic change in Erie. A process will be put in place so more voices from community members will be heard by leaders who are critical in directing policy and designing programmatic change.
One in four Erie City residents—and almost one in six Erie County residents live in poverty. This has a detrimental overall impact on the community’s quality of life and economic growth. The underlying philosophy of Erie Together is that poverty is a community issue requiring a comprehensive community-wide response inclusive of all sectors and residents.
Erie Together is a movement including participants from a wide cross-sector of organizations and residents who are working together to make the Erie region a community of opportunity where everyone can learn, work and thrive. Mercyhurst University, Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC) and United Way of Erie County serve as the catalyst for this movement. Erie Together seeks active participation from a cross-sector of organizations and residents.
Four countywide action teams are underway. Additionally, Erie Together has been involved with specific subsections of the city and county. Community members in the northeast side of the city, Girard/Lake City, Little Italy, North East and the Northwestern School District areas have developed and worked on action plans specific to their areas. Family Action Teams have been carried out, or are underway, in all of the above communities. Work is being done with neighbors in the Mid-City Eastside of the City of Erie where Erie Together is in the process of beginning dialogue to action teams and family action teams.
What is needed is your involvement. Please consider participating in some capacity.
Family Action Teams: entail a mentoring experience for families with low-income so that these families might move toward self-sufficiency and be brought into the community planning process. If you are interested in participating as a community partner or learning how a family can become involved, please call Katy Stearns, Facilitator, at 459-4581 (ext. 652) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dialogue to Action Teams: bring together community members within specific neighborhoods and county areas to engage in dialogue leading to a concrete action plan to address the needs of residents and improve their community. If you are interested in becoming a facilitator and/or learning more about the Dialogue to Action process in target communities or how your city or county area can become involved, please contact Jen Bach, Project Coordinator, at 824-3357 or email email@example.com
Countywide Action Teams: work to align resources and address outcomes identified as necessary to achieve the community’s aspiration developed at community forums, attended by a diverse group of citizens from across the county, in the spring of 2010. If you are interested in being involved in one of the countywide Action Teams, please contact Mary Bula, Project Facilitator, at 456-2937 ext 231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. These four action teams are:
- Team 1: Childhood readiness and success, pre-K through 3rd grade
- Team 2: Aligning education to careers, 4th grade through college
- Team 3: Individual and family stability
- Team 4: Balancing economic and workforce development
Steward Team: comprised of cross sector representation helps guide the initiative and focuses on communitywide systemic change to reduce poverty and achieve the community aspiration. An outreach approach will be developed to assist in continuing to solicit input from across the county.