| Program: || Community Enhancement Program, Flint, MI |
| Contact(s): || Margaret Williamson, President: (810) 767-1040, or Tom Lindley, Chairperson: (810) 766-6227 |
| Purpose: || To assist a broad base of community leaders in understanding the multi- faceted challenges of race relations |
Over the past 20 years, Genesee County residents (which encompasses Flint, Mich.) have lived in a racially segregated atmosphere. Four years ago, however, community coalitions emerged to develop programs such as the Community Enhancement Program to address prejudice and bigotry in the county. The Community Enhancement Program originated through issues identified at a 1996 Cultural Relations Conference sponsored by the city of Flint and The Community Coalition. This conference served as a basis for developing a strategic plan to improve race, ethnic and gender relations in the county.
Through the use of forums, the Community Enhancement Program is able to bring the community into a conversation on race and prejudice in the community. The Community Dialogue process is a cornerstone of the Community Enhancement Program. The dialogue is a series of six sessions that pose questions to the audience and encourage participants to examine their roles in the future of the community. From these dialogues, four workshops called "Undoing Racism" were formed. Facilitated by People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, the workshops consisted of 2 ½ days of people changing their attitudes about race, focusing on the role they can play in ending racism. The Community Coalition and United Way work together as a coalition of community organizers and provide the area youth with opportunities for interaction and dialogue as well. This occurs through the specific skill-related training exercises, service-learning opportunities, and collaborative partnerships with various organizations.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
After identifying that racism was an impediment to the social and economic growth of the county, numerous efforts have been made to address institutional racism. The dialogue groups and workshops have comprised a cross section of over 350 community leaders. The media as well as businesses and the University of Michigan-Flint have worked cooperatively with the organizations to broaden their forums to educate the rest of the community on the issue of race. A separate organization for youth, the Interfaith/Intercultural Group, composed of urban and suburban youth, has emerged from the program and meets bi-weekly to address issues of race and youth.