Wilmington’s ‘Rise Together’ initiative to address issues of racial inequality

Wilmington’s ‘Rise Together’ initiative to address issues of racial inequality

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The City of Wilmington launched a new initiative in hopes of addressing issues of racial inequality and injustice in Wilmington.

The goal of “Rise Together” is to bring the community together to make sure all citizens are valued and can have equal opportunities for prosperity.

Mayor Bill Saffo said city council wants to focus in the coming years on tackling the challenges the underserved communities face, including affordable housing and attracting better paying jobs. He also talked about police reform, healthcare and education as issues important to the community.

He likened the initiative to the Vision 2020 plan, which was a multi-year effort to direct development in Wilmington while balancing the community’s character and protecting natural resources while growing the economy.

The city spends about $700,000 annually on nonprofit organizations that serve the community, including investments in community programs and services for historically underserved and disadvantaged communities. Saffo said council wants to examine those dollars to make sure they are being spent on the appropriate programs to meet the goals of Rise Together.

“This will give us an opportunity to sit down when we start working on the budget in November and we can start with reflecting upon these issues and saying as a council where do we want to spend,” he said.

As part of the initiative, Saffo had one-on-one conversations with several community leaders, including educator Bertha Todd, Pastors Mike Queen and Derek Macleod, nonprofit leaders Frankie Roberts and Linda Pearce and business leader Chip Mahan. The videos can be seen here.

“What I took away from those talks was that when we can sit down with people that don’t look like us or maybe don’t come from the same community that we come from and really just have a one-on-one conversation, you start to realize that people’s wants are the same,” he said. “They want good-paying jobs. They want a safe neighborhood. They want a place where their kids can go to school and be safe and get a good education. We want the same things. And I think at the end of the day, it’s about relationships and getting to understand one another. I hope that people that watch them take away the same thing that I took away from them.”

Learn more about Rise Together here.

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