On the Table Survey Results Show Optimism and Engagement in Community

Central Carolina Community Foundation – the Midlands’ center for philanthropy – revealed the survey results from their inaugural On the Table day of conversations that took place October 24, 2018. The survey reveals that participants are optimistic about the future of the community and see Richland and Lexington Counties in a positive light in several areas. To encourage community development in areas that the survey results indicated need improvement and recognize ideas that came from On the Table conversations, the Community Foundation will award $20,000 in Beyond the Table mini-grants. Grant information and the full survey results are available at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

An estimated 1,500 Richland and Lexington County residents gathered together for the inaugural On the Table day of conversations on October 24, 2018. The initiative focused on facilitating organic, informal community conversations to inspire action across communities.

Throughout the day, conversations covered hundreds of topics. Hosts could focus on topics suggested by their guests or use guided conversation prompts centered on community strengths, needs, and next steps. Following the conversations, participants were asked to take a survey that provided a deeper understanding of the community issues they deemed most important. The survey was conducted online by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies.

On the Table encourages residents to prioritize opportunities and discuss ways we can work together to improve and enhance our community,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “We hope the conversations, survey results, and mini-grants, will inspire residents to move beyond the table and, with others, take steps that will generate a positive impact on this place we call home.”

Survey participants represent a highly engaged segment of the community

Of the estimated 1,500 people who participated in a conversation last fall, 620 completed the survey. More than 80% of the participants report being involved in community and neighborhood activities and nearly nine in 10 have at least a four-year college degree. The respondents believe residents like themselves can make a significant impact in improving their community.

A positive outlook and hope for the future

The survey respondents have positive feelings and perceptions about the community and approach the issues and challenges facing the community with a strong sense of hope for the future.  Roughly eight in 10, (79%), are more hopeful about what the future holds for their community, compared with only 21% who are more worried. This strong sense of optimism prevails regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity or county of residence. 70% of respondents say the community is more united than divided, and an even larger proportion, (84%), believe the area where they live has a strong sense of community. The full survey results are available and searchable at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

Opportunities and priorities for change

Despite the overwhelming positive tone, the survey reveals some areas of opportunity for the community. Economic issues rose to the top as the most important priority On the Table participants want to see addressed. Economic security and poverty also ranked as top issues. More walkable and bike-able areas and resources for small business entrepreneurs were also high on the list.

Beyond the Table Grants to Inspire Action

Central Carolina Community Foundation will award $20,000 in Beyond the Table mini-grants – quick action grants that will support ideas that came from the inaugural On the Table conversations. Nonprofit organizations and individuals with a fiscal sponsorship can apply for grants up to $2,000 for a project that addresses one of the issues identified as a community priority through the On the Table survey. Applications will be accepted through March 15, 2019. Information about the grants can be found at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

Central Carolina Community Foundation plans to continue the conversation and has scheduled the next On the Table for October 22, 2019.

Rooted in a National Initiative

Central Carolina Community Foundation is hosting On the Table with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The initiative replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Since then, the initiative has fostered civic engagement and generated hundreds of actionable ideas from tens of thousands of Chicago-area residents.

The initiative has also been replicated nationally in more than 25 communities across the nation, including 12 cities also supported by Knight Foundation over the past two years, including Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Georgia; Lexington, KY; and Miami, FL.

Support for On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation advances Knight Foundation’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity, and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive, and participatory.