From South Orange Township:
The Community Relations Committee is proud to recognize the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race as our late Fall 2021 Village Spotlight Organization.
The South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race is a nationally-recognized, progressive, grassroots community group committed to racial integration and equity. It was founded in 1996 by a diverse group of volunteers concerned about the under-representation of people of color in the civic life of our towns, about realtor steering, about a perceived decline in the quality of our schools, and about stagnating property values. The organization adopted three main strategies to foster stable racial integration and inclusion: to promote strong and sustained robust demand by all racial groups for housing in every area of our community; to take proactive steps to ensure involvement of persons of color in the civic life of the community; and to promote dialogue and understanding on race-related issues.
Mission: To build and sustain a community that is racially, culturally and socially integrated and truly inclusive where there is equity and equality for all.
Vision: We aspire to be a community that is a model for the nation in which people of different races, ethnic groups and backgrounds can interact, form friendships and participate fully in the community’s economic, political, civic, educational and cultural life.
Board Initiatives 2020-2021
- Strengthen the community’s commitment to racial and cultural inclusion of all people of color by challenging the community power structures* to rectify disparities and by promoting the value of inclusiveness to the well-being of the community. *(municipal government, school system, realtors, businesses, arts and recreation groups, corporate and nonprofit groups, media, and key leaders and influencers)
- Ensure the sustainability of racial integration in SOMA by both affirming and supporting the current population of Black people and by researching and developing strategies to increase the rate of Black in-movers.
We are steadfast in our vision to be a community that is a model for the nation in which people of different races, ethnic groups and backgrounds can interact, form friendships and participate fully in the community’s economic, political, civic, educational and cultural life. We use race-conscious strategies to best leverage change toward racial inclusion and equity to address both individual attitudes as well as public policies. Thus, we work throughout the community—with the school district, businesses, governments, service organizations, faith institutions, and cultural resources.
The Community Coalition on race has programs and activities that are developed within four mission focus areas: schools, residential, affirmative marketing, and community engagement.
This group works to ensure that students of all races are expected and encouraged to excel in a community that is proud and supportive of our schools. It focuses on eliminating the academic achievement gap; promoting parental involvement; providing resources, information, and training to teachers and parents; and advocating for diversity hiring, and integrated schools and classrooms.
Bringing the community together to learn, to build relationships across racial and cultural barriers, and to celebrate differences is the focus of this mission area. Volunteers are active in one or more events and projects like the annual MLK Celebration, the MLK Luminary Project, Conversations on Race, Coffee House Discussions, the Civic Engagement Institute, and Integration through the Arts programs.
Promoting the welcoming and inclusive nature of our towns to potential homebuyers, and raising local, regional, and national awareness for the Coalition on Race’s mission and programs are the goals of this group. Volunteers identify target audiences and publications for placing promotional ads, develop stories, oversee our website and social media marketing, and support Coalition events with outbound communications.
Using pro-integrative strategies to support stable racial integration in our towns’ neighborhoods, this group works with realtors and neighborhood associations, gives tours to prospective home-buyers, and oversees a Home Maintenance Loan in support of strong and attractive neighborhoods.
Tracking our integration levels–in the towns, in neighborhoods, in schools and classrooms, on boards, among leadership, and in businesses–helps us work toward stable racial integration.