Wednesday, January 09, 2002

CAN about ready to convert words to actions

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Community Action Now is set to shift gears from talk to action, a co-chairman of the group said Tuesday.

        CAN will unveil programs dealing with education, employment and police-community relations within two to three months, said co-chairman Ross Love.

        “The good news is, people are going to begin to see what our 200 volunteers have been working on over the past six months,” he said.

        Mr. Love, who is president and CEO of Blue Chip Broadcasting, addressed 90 people during a luncheon for the Public Relations Society of America at the Montgomery Inn and Banquet Center downtown.

        Among the programs CAN leaders could launch by spring are a 14-point plan for improving police-community relations.

        Mr. Love said CAN's police and justice action team, led by Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher, has been working on a plan similar to a Boston program that mobilized black churches to work with police.

        The program would focus on changing the culture in the police department as well as attitudes in the African-American community, he said.

        “This plan will take some of the conflict between police and the community and turn it into a true partnership,” Mr. Love said. “It has the potential to change the way the game is played in these neighborhoods.”

        Other possible initiatives, he said, include early childhood development programs to teach young mothers and fathers vital parenting skills. CAN officials are also weighing plans for full-time preschools.

        “We need to acknowledge the quality of parenting in the inner city is not the same kind of parenting we grew up with,” Mr. Love said. “Many of our children are already at a disadvantage before they even get to the first grade.”

        An audience member asked Mr. Love how CAN will fund such lofty programming in the face of state and local budget cuts in social services.

        Getting money from the public sector will be a challenge, Mr. Love said, so CAN is focusing more on investment from private businesses, foundations and individuals. “If we can justify our programs and show why they will be successful, we can get investors,” he said.

        So far, the Foundation of Greater Cincinnati has pledged $250,000 for a CAN program yet to be named, said Regina Livers, a CAN executive director. More funds will be sought as specific plans are completed, she said.

        Public service advertisements promoting diversity and racial dialogue will be hitting the airwaves in the coming weeks, Mr. Love said.


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