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Making A Difference: October 30, 2013
For KSMU I’m Mike Smith, and today on Making a Difference Where You Live, the 2013 Community Focus Report for Springfield and Greene County.
Janet Dankert is Executive Director of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks: “The Community Focus Report is an invaluable tool for those of us in the nonprofit sector trying to make the community a better place” CPO is one of the area’s many nonprofit service organizations making a difference here, by making good use of the bi-annual Community Focus Report for Springfield and Green County. This report card, if you will, identifies strengths and weaknesses of 11 social sectors within our community and awards Blue Ribbons and Red Flags accordingly. It’s information about the area’s Arts and Culture; Citizen Participation; Business and Economic Condition; Community Health; Early Childhood; Education; Housing; the Natural Environment; Public Order and Safety; Recreation Sports and Leisure; and Transportation. Janet Dankert says CPO’s service programs are numerous and varied enough to tie into that list line by line: “Looking at that list, we are involved in almost every one of those in one way or another. Our mission is to Build Resilient Children, Healthy Families, and Strong Communities.”
In fulfilling that mission, Janet Dankert says CPO uses the Community Focus Report Data in part, to bring in much needed resources for CPO’s premier service programs. (Community and Neighborhood Development; Affordable Housing and Homeless Prevention; Substance Abuse and Prevention; and Children and Child Well-being Program Services) “We will look at the red flags, at those issues identified in the report, and we will use those to develop programs and services that address those red flags. Obviously poverty is huge, and child abuse and neglect too. I think for our community, both of those are issues we’ve had conversations about and we are focusing our attention on more specifically in the last year as we move forward”.
And when the CPO moves forward, more often than not it does so with support from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Full disclosure here: The CFO is one of 5 main funders for the Community Focus Report, but CFO Sr. Program Officer Randy Russell says the Foundation itself uses the Community Focus Report in its grant application process. “We have direct language in the grant request that asks the agency making the request to purposefully tie what it is they’re asking for, to an outcome in the report itself. To make not just tangential types of connections to the issues they find in the report, but to actually tie outcomes of what their proposed grant is going to be, to areas whose needs have been identified in the Community Focus Report”.
Again, CPO Executive Director Janet Dankert: “We just created a Child Abuse and Neglect Collaborative that started meeting in January and it has more than 25 agencies coming together to put together a plan of action to really address child abuse and neglect in our community. We use the report to help improve early childhood experiences, day care provider training. You know, opportunities for those to get early childhood experiences they wouldn’t automatically have”.
Janet Dankert says a project recently completed by the CPO and its partners has turned a big Red Flag into an even bigger Blue Ribbon: “Through the Continuum of Care program and Housing Collaborative, they have worked for many years on affordable housing and homeless prevention, and those have both been Red Flags for many years, culminating in the SGF Affordable Housing Center that opened in June. It’s a one stop service shop for affordable housing and homeless where we have multiple providers on site who can address those issues with folks as they come in off the street. That opened for us just this last June and it’s such a blessing to be able to see a Red Flag moved into a Blue Ribbon”.
A 5 member coalition is responsible for the creation of the Community Focus Report some 9 years and ago, and its upkeep ever since. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks; Jr. League of Springfield; Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Springfield-Greene County Library District; and United Way of the Ozarks, are equal partners in the acquisition, analysis, compilation and publication of the Community Focus Report data.
Cristina Gilstrap is the Facilitator of the Community Focus Report: “Those 5 organizations that support the report are asked each year if they want to do this again, and they always say yes. We would not have this product if these 5 groups did not say We See This as an Important Thing. Organizations, groups and nonprofits are using this report as a way to fund programs to help with these major issues. It’s really providing a pathway to help us improve areas of need. So that’s where we see the benefits of this report. I think we’ve seen improvements in education; groups are collaborating more and more in order to make improvements. You’ll see a lot of collaboration. I think that’s the one theme that comes up over and over throughout the report”.
As stated on page 1 of the 2013 Community Focus Report for SGF and Greene County: additional information, data, and resources are available on a website dedicated to this report:
Additional information can be found through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks at:
For KSMU and Making a Difference Where You Live, I’m Mike Smith