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'On the Table' Results Show Strong Civic Engagement, Concerns About Economics, Poverty in Akron

Judi Hill, John Garofalo
John Garofalo (left) of the Akron Community Foundation presented the results of the 'On the Table' civic engagement event; the Akron NAACP's Judi Hill says she found that young people need to be brought more into the conversation.

The Akron Community Foundation is revealing the results of a massive public engagement project that brought people together over a meal to discuss life in greater Akron.

The “On the Table” event last October was one of ten held around the country. In Akron, about 6,000 people participated in a series of meals, then answered follow-up questionnaires.

John Garofalo, Vice President of Community Investment at the foundation, says the respondents showed three major areas of concern.

Garofalo and On the Table Akron

“The number one issue that people identified -- that’s still a main, pressing issue for people in Akron -- is the economic issues and poverty. So that’s one thing we’re going to be addressing in the future. As well as equity and social inclusion and the drug and addiction problem.”

This coming October 3, solutions for those issues will be the main topics at “On the Table Akron 2018.”  John Petures, CEO of the foundation, says he hopes participants this fall will want to ask how they can become more engaged.

“How can I make a difference?  How can I contribute?  How can the ideas that I have be put into force?”

After this fall’s “On the Table,” Petures says the foundation will consider small grants of up to $2,000 for some of the new ideas that come up in the discussions.

The “On the Table” survey also showed that residents in greater Akron were far more involved in volunteerism and attending public meetings than the national average.

Results of "On the Table" are available here.