Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Nashville Mayor Issues Poverty Challenge

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Nashville Mayor Issues Poverty Challenge

Article excerpt

The City of Nashville, Tenn,. is taking a nontraditional approach to addressing poverty. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean challenged business, residents, government agencies and community groups to come up with a plan to reduce poverty in Davidson County by 50 percent by 2018. In response, more than 500 people attended the Nashville Poverty Symposium hosted by the city's Metropolitan Action Commission and the Nashville Chamber Public Benefit Foundation.

The symposium, developed by a coalition of 13 local agencies and organizations that acts as the planning committee for this effort, was an opportunity to see what was being done in Nashville to address poverty, as well as the service gaps that prevented families from being able to sustain themselves.

"There isn't one approach or one organization that can solve the issues of poverty; it takes all of us coming together," said Howard Gentry, CEO of the Nashville Chamber Public Benefit Foundation.

At the symposium, 200 people volunteered to be part of one of seven action groups charged with developing a plan to submit to the planning committee, which will present it to the mayor by May. The areas of focus for the action groups include: health care; housing; child care; food; economic opportunity; neighborhoods; and workforce development. Each group meets monthly.

Prior to the fall symposium, a leadership team from Nashville participated in an NLC Building Equitable Communities Technical Assistance Roundtable in Charlotte, N.C. The roundtable focused on collaborative team building and strategic planning for addressing poverty and equity.

According to team participant Cynthia Croom, executive director of the Metropolitan Action Commission, Nashville's leadership team found the NLC event to be essential to the success of their symposium. It enabled them to develop the framework for the planning process before and after the event. …

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