Jacksonville Selected to Take Part in National Racial Equity Initiative

January 31, 2008  

The City of Jacksonville has been selected by the Study Circles Resource Center to take part in Communities Creating Racial Equity, a national initiative aimed at helping communities create and sustain public engagement and change on racial equity issues.

Jacksonville was selected based on the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission's (JHRC) commitment to long-term racial equity and community change. In addition, JHRC was noted for its ability to bring together people of diverse backgrounds to converse about racial and ethnic inequities and the effects of racism. JHRC was also lauded for its capacity to sustain inclusive public conversation and problem solving, striving to make these democratic processes a routine part of the community's culture.

The City of Jacksonville and seven other organizations will work in their respective communities to reduce persistent inequalities among racial and ethnic groups that may appear in education, housing, health care, the justice system, employment, civic engagement and media. In addition, the selected participants will form a national learning network, and will meet together twice over the course of the initiative.

Over the next two years, the Study Circles Resource Center will provide technical assistance, and use what it learns to generate new resources which will be available for other communities working to address racial equity.

'The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission's proposal to work with us showed its commitment to examining the roots of inequities, and to setting new standards for success that go beyond just getting along better,' says Martha L. McCoy, executive director of the Study Circles Resource Center. 'We look forward to helping JHRC create opportunities for all kinds of people to talk and work together to close racial gaps and solve public problems.'

'This initiative will enhance our goal of ensuring equal opportunity and fair treatment of all citizens and help us to take further positive action to eliminate discriminatory practices in Jacksonville, said Charlene Taylor Hill, executive director of the JHRC. 'We look forward to working with our community and others to bring about change and realize our full potential.'

In addition to Jacksonville, other selected municipalities and organizations include Stratford, Conn.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Montgomery County Public Schools, Md.; Lynchburg, Va.; Burlington, Vt.; Sacramento, Calif. and New Haven, Conn.

With funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the C.S. Mott Foundation, the Study Circles Resource Center will provide each organization with in-depth technical assistance and stipends for travel to the learning exchanges. Each organization will have a chance to apply for a small grant to help them implement their community's ideas to achieve racial equity. The first learning exchange will be April 22-24 at the new Everyday Democracy office in East Hartford, Conn.

The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission (JHRC) is dedicated to eliminating prejudice and the practice of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status or familial status. The JHRC was established to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity to fully participate in the privileges of complete membership in the community. To learn more visit www.coj.net, key word 'JHRC.'

The Study Circles Resource Center (soon to be Everyday Democracy) is a national organization that helps local communities find ways for all kinds of people to think, talk and work together to solve problems. The organization works with neighborhoods, cities and towns, regions, and states, helping them pay particular attention to how racism and ethnic differences affect the problems they address. To learn more visit www.studycircles.org.