Sunday, June 8, 2003

Programs designed to reduce disparities

Cincinnati CAN commission's initiatives are designed to reduce such "racial disparities" as unemployment among African Americans at two to three times that of whites, blacks owning less than one percent of the area's businesses, fewer than one of four blacks owning their own homes, less than half of inner-city black children graduating from high school. Here are some of CAN's strategic programs, with the organizations responsible for their success:

Minority Business Accelerator (MBA):

This initiative is designed to increase the number of sizeable minority-owned businesses, starting with black-owned firms. The goal is to increase capital investment by banks and large corporations in minority owned businesses, especially in Empowerment Zone neighborhoods. Recent example: P& G's $30 million investment deal with minority supplier Value-Pac. Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce launched the MBA.

Success by 6:

This national model developed by United Way of America targets at-risk children to give them needed social, emotional and cognitive learning experiences in formative pre-school years. It helps parents and other caregivers ensure that all children are healthy and ready to succeed when they enter the school system. United Way of Greater Cincinnati is in charge.

Racial Fairness Initiative:

The program is designed to act on recommendations from a study by the Ohio Supreme Court and Ohio Bar Association documenting disparities in the justice system throughout Ohio. Initiatives include improving the racial balance of jury pools, tracking police and court data for racial imbalances and increasing racial diversity among workers in the courts and prosecutor's office.

Community Problem Oriented Policing:

CPOP requires citizens and police officers to collaborate using problem-solving techniques. Officers and citizens undergo training together, then meet regularly to strategize how to achieve their common goals of preventing crime and improving neighborhood safety. Cops develop closer relationships with residents. Residents can better explain legitimate police action to neighbors and partner with police without being viewed as "snitches" or "sellouts." The Community Police Partnering Center will coordinate CPOP, as endorsed in the April 2002 Collaborative Agreement.

Cincinnati Center for Arts and Technology:

The center will start with offering the hardest-to-employ and at-risk teens a chance to change their lives through tuition-free training. The first class will turn out mostly medical technicians and auto maintenance workers in response to Greater Cincinnati employers' needs. The center is modeled after the acclaimed Manchester-Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh. Founder William Strickland is assisting with the start-up here.

Youth Street Workers:

"Street teams" credible with police and street youth seek out at-risk young people, direct them to community resources and help them make better choices about illegal drugs, violence and gang activity. Teams are already working in Evanston, Madisonville and Walnut Hills. Goal is four workers for each of the five police districts. Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC) runs the program.

One-Stop Employment Center:

Upgrade is underway to improve access and generate more job postings. Unions and employers have pledged support. It is operated by the Southwest Ohio Career Resource Network, jointly sponsored by the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, Urban League and Work Resource Center.

The Chronically Unemployed:

Several agencies help this toughest-to-employ population group stymied by inadequate job skills, inadequate transportation, a history of substance abuse or criminal records. But CAN believes they could place far more workers if they had more resources. Urban League will coordinate the drive to expand, share best practices and adopt administrative efficiencies.

Youth Employment:

In 2002, this initiative provided more than 2,400 summer jobs. The plan calls for expanding to connect teens with jobs year-round. Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC) is in charge.

Partners in Education:

Enhanced version is modeled on Cincinnati Bell's stepped-up corporate partnering at Taft High School and General Electric's collaboration at Aiken High School. Successes include increased daily classroom attendance, more students on the honor rolls, and at Aiken, a rising college admission rate. A parallel corporate partners initiative is being developed for elementary schools. Cincinnati Youth Collaborative is in charge.

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