Office of the Mayor - Feb. 4, 2016
The Winston-Salem Poverty Thought Force will hold community meetings on Feb. 23 and March 17 to solicit input on how to tackle various aspects of poverty and has created a website where citizens can sign up to participate.
Organizers want the meetings to include those living in poverty, those who work with the poor, policy experts who have studied the issues, and other interested members of the public.
Two meetings will be held on Feb. 23, one on Education and Life Skills; and the other on Housing and Homelessness. Both meetings will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Biotech Place at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, 575 N. Patterson Ave., Winston-Salem.
Meetings on March 17 will deal with Health and Wellness; and also on Jobs and Workforce Development. These meetings will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church and World Outreach Center, 3683 Old Lexington Road, Winston-Salem.
Interested citizens can register to attend and learn more about poverty in Winston-Salem at PovertyThoughtForce.com. Citizens without access to the internet can register by calling 758-4021. Because of the nature of the meeting formats, interested citizens can only participate in one meeting each day.
The Thought Force needs a broad range of input, says Chairman Rogan Kersh, the provost of Wake Forest University. “Our goal is to devise approaches to ending poverty that are both feasible and impactful,” he said. “To do this we need to hear from everyone who has a stake in these issues, recognizing that poverty affects all of us in the community.”
All meetings will follow the “world café” format, in which participants engage in a series of small-table discussions and change tables after each round of discussions. Each round is guided by specific prompts. Afterwards, participants share their observations and insights with the larger group, guided by a moderator.
In 2014, more than 24 percent of the population in Winston-Salem lived in poverty based on household income, giving Winston-Salem the highest poverty rate among North Carolina’s five largest cities. Mayor Allen Joines initiated the Poverty Thought Force to find ways to reduce the poverty rate. The panel has 21 members representing a broad range of civic and academic leaders.