Second annual engaging conversation initiative will bring people together across the Midlands to break bread and discuss the future of our communities.
Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, invites Richland and Lexington County residents to participate in On the Table, an initiative that will bring people together to break bread and share their thoughts on what’s great about our community and how we can make it even better — more generous, vibrant, and engaged. Now in its second year, the event will be held on Tuesday, October 22 as part of a national initiative to connect communities on issues that are important to them. Register online and learn more at www.onthetablecola.org.
On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation, will bring diverse voices together across the region to discuss the future and inspire actionable ideas to strengthen our communities. It is funded by First Citizens Bank and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a national initiative. In 2018, more than 1,500 Richland and Lexington County residents gathered together for the inaugural On the Table day of conversations. The goal is to continue to grow the diverse group of area residents, from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds, to participate in conversations on October 22 and beyond.
New Partnerships and Resources to Reach More Voices
In its second year, the On the Table initiative is expanding to reach new voices and provide more resources to hosts. Panera Bread is offering a catering discount to all registered hosts and is planning to conduct its own public conversations at all Midlands locations. In addition, a paper survey option will be available to hosts in an effort to be more inclusive.
A new focus for this year is to encourage younger generations of residents to engage with On the Table. A new survey specifically for youth in the community will be deployed to get the unique perspective of the generations that will shape the future of our region. Young adults and youth-serving organizations and schools who are interested in hosting or participating in a conversation should contact [email protected].
Host a Table or Participate as a Guest
Area residents, nonprofits, places of worship and businesses are invited to participate by hosting a small group table of six to 12 people. Participants are also encouraged to be a guest at someone else’s table. Hosts have the flexibility to determine the invitation list (people they know or have not yet met) and location for their On the Table conversations. These discussions can be held in homes, restaurants, parks or community spaces at any time on October 22 — breakfast, lunch, or dinner, before or after work or late in the evening. Food can be provided by the host or guests can purchase their own food, bring a brown bag or contribute to a potluck.
The Community Foundation will provide a toolkit that includes hosting tips and suggested discussion questions to spark conversation. The host and participants can also select their own topics, issues and ideas to discuss. The Foundation will also provide in-person and webinar training sessions for hosts to learn how to easily guide the conversation.
Many people will be invited to participate in an On the Table conversation by an individual or organization. The Foundation will also be partnering with local organizations to host tables open to the public.
To register as a host or view a list of public conversations, please visit www.onthetablecola.org.
It’s More than Just a One Day Conversation – It’s a Movement
While the first component of this initiative is to foster focused conversations at dining tables across the greater Columbia region, the continued goal is to keep these conversations going and – ultimately – to increase the impact that individuals and groups have on the community when they work together.
At the conclusion of the conversations, participants will be encouraged to complete a brief online survey about their On the Table experiences and the topics they discussed. The survey results will be compiled by national research partners Hart Research Firm and Public Opinion Strategies, and provided to the Community Foundation who will release a community report to the public. The results will also be shared with community leaders, elected officials and other decision-makers to help provide a deeper understanding of the conversations and inform how decisions about our communities are made in the months and years ahead.
Beyond the Table Grants Return to Inspire Action
In 2018, Nine in 10 survey respondents reported they would likely take specific action on an issue they discussed at On the Table. To support ideas that come from the On the Table conversations, the Foundation will once again award Beyond the Table mini-grants – quick action grants that will support ideas from the 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 2018 On the Table report. Applications will open on October 22. Information about the grants can be found at www.OnTheTableCola.org.
Rooted in a National Initiative
On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation conversations are part of a national initiative funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Support for On the Table 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.
For more information or to sign up to host, visit www.onthetablecola.org or call 803.254.5601.
About Central Carolina Community Foundation
Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, is a nonprofit organization serving 11 counties in the Midlands by distributing grants and scholarships and linking the resources of donors, nonprofits and area leaders to communities in need. Major initiatives include the online giving challenge Midlands Gives, On the Table, Connected Communities grants, the One SC Fund, the Best of Philanthropy Awards, and annual scholarships. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.yourfoundation.org or call 803.254.5601.