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Local Leaders Join Forces To Tackle Community Problems

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Over 100 community members participated in a Collective Impact Community Workshop to tackle poverty and other community challenges. United Way of Broome County and FSG Collective Impact Consultants hosted the event to help give local leaders a different approach on solving tough community issues. 

Executive Director of United Way of Broome County, Robin Alpaugh say's this is just the first step in taking a different look at how funders and elected officials can utilize funding through New York State to tackle issues like poverty. 

"Collaboration is so important and change is hard. Change can be messy, but you need to take that first step and that's what we are doing here today," said Alpaugh.  

Funding organizations, nonprofits and some elected officials attended the meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Tuesday morning. Melissa Oomer is the Director of FSG and says this event is completely new for Broome County. Oomer says the focus of the event is to reduce duplication, fill gaps and listen to the communities voices. 

Throughout the workshop individuals targeted controversial issues, such as obesity, poverty and the juvenile justice system. 

"We spoke about an example of juvenile justice in Omaha that we worked on a couple of years ago. We talked about how this is about putting different stakeholders in a room together over time to have really tough conversations. So how do you take probation officers and chiefs of police with nonprofits and other leaders and talk about how they system is not working for youth," said Oomer.  

In her presentation, Oomer's example in Omaha saw combined efforts to reduce youths arrested in schools. Within the first year, those efforts lead to a 50% decrease in school-based arrests. 

But it's also about healthy skepticism. "The biggest one is time. It's about building trust and new relationships," said Oomer. "It's not just creating another program. There is no single solution that is going to solve these types of problems. I think people really just want to learn how to do this. We're trying to provide examples to get people excited." 

Both Oomer and Alpaugh agreed that today's event is about responding to immediate needs and working on long term solutions. FSG and United Way will be working more closely with the anti-poverty initiative to coach them on how to start implementing some of those ideas.