© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Community Foundation of Herkimer, Oneida counties investing $10 million to fight racism

The Community Foundation Facebook
Community members contribute to the Justice Art Mural at Kemble Park in Utica.

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is taking on racism. The philanthropic organization will invest $10 million to address systemic and systematic racism in the Mohawk Valley.

Foundation Spokesman John Swann said the group has contributed to organizations focusing on racial inequality and social justice in the past. This fund puts an exclamation point on that commitment; making short term investments with community partners on issues like educational support and assistance and workforce development. But this fund also looks beyond immediate needs.

"Longer term, we’re looking at systemic change to bring about more equity and fairness across the systems that have taken decades and often much longer, to develop in our two counties, just as they have in other areas as well," Swann said.

A cornerstone of the initiative will be the creation of impact centers. Swann explains them as reimagined community centers that provide space for multiple nonprofit partners to serve families in high-needs neighborhoods.

“We’re looking particularly, at a site in a historically distressed area of the inner city of Utica,” Swann said.

The time, he said, is right for this type of long term commitment.

"The community foundation’s work in this area has been ongoing for several years, but certainly, recent events and the national conversation on race, equity and social justice, spurred our board and staff to look at this in a completely different way,” he said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.