As we wind down 2020, we thought it would be fruitful to look back on our accomplishments for the year. It is definitely a year to remember. COVID delayed some work, but it showed us some things:

  • One, that we are strong and capable.
  • Two, we need to make some improvements.
  • Last, that despite obstacles, good work still happened.

More importantly, it showed us that good work is coming in 2021. We are excited about what we can accomplish as a county.

Forward Wayne County, a county-wide effort to align community resources, provides backbone support in a collective impact style. This model has led us to

Our 2020 accomplishments:

  • Champion Causes and Coalitions- We are working with threes strong groups: Employability, Early Childhood, and Neighborhood & Main Street Development.
  • Grants- Through Coalitions and Forward Wayne County, we raised more than $275,000 to do work in the county.
  • Early Childhood Success Coalition: Starr and Vaile Schools in Richmond were awarded Paths 2 Quality Level 3 designation. This doubles the On My Way to Pre-K classes in Wayne County.
  • Partner- Next Level Jobs Rapid Recovery. We promoted and presented to employers, schools, and community partners on short-term credentials and certifications from Governor Holcomb’s office.
    • This supports the work of the Employability Coalition’s goal to increase educational attainment rates of our residents.
  • Supporting our Affiliate Groups – First, we promoted events and programs via our newsletter and social media. Second, we advised groups on strategies for 2021. Last, we assisted with program review and writing letters of support.
  • Invitations to be a part of conversations and projects:
    • Strategic Planning—Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County
    • Community Relations—Earlham College’s EPIC Grand Challenge
    • Regional Collaborations—21st Talent Network partner
    • Network facilitation—Connect internal partners; connect outside resources with Wayne County Partners; and connect regional and statewide partners on potential projects in the county.

What We’ve Learned:

  • Residents love where they live. Are there concerns? Yes. But they are hopeful. That’s a good thing.
    • How do we tackle those concerns and create real change?
  • The county is ready for change and we need to bring together groups and get them on board to tackle large projects. Our Steering committee is working on this big project idea.
  • Coalitions work- individually, organizations do good work. Collectively, they are doing great work.
  • People like that Forward Wayne County is focused on county-wide efforts and not just devoting all of its energy to Richmond.
  • People want to see our progress. Which is why we are redesigning our web site and the impact page. So our progress can be easily seen and understood.
Good things are coming in 2021.

What’s coming next year:

  • Employability Coalition– We are looking at a Career Awareness campaign for in-demand Jobs in Wayne County. We’ll start with some short-term credentialing efforts to increase our educational attainment numbers.
  • The Western Wayne Schools Childcare Center will open. This is a partnership between the Early Childhood Coalition, Western Wayne Schools, YMCA, Sugar Creek Foods, and the Wayne County Foundation.
  • NICE! Programming- This will be neighborhood development work on how to create a group, work together, and keep it going. There are project grants attached to this programming.
  • Main Street/Downtown Coalition- Working on metrics and projects. How do the towns work together to improve our downtowns?
    • What projects can be done to create attraction to our main streets around the county?
  • Freedom Seeker’s to Future Framers- This is a project with the local NAACP chapter to look at the history of our black community in the county. It will also look at how we continue conversations and future work.
  • Guest Blog Writers- We’ve partnered with key community stakeholders and groups in Wayne County to speak on some of our eight focus areas. Be sure to visit our web site.
  • A Forward Wayne County web site redesign. Specifically, the impact page. By doing this redesign, visitors will be able to easily understand our successes as well as see a list of our current projects.
  • The Forward Wayne County Steering Committee will guide a big project for the county. There are many focus areas: broadband, housing, safety, childcare, education, etc.
    • What project can we address that will move our county in a positive direction?

How you can be a part of our work:

  • Get involved with a local organization. They need your support to keep their work moving forward.
  • Respond to Coalitions and provide the feedback they seek.
  • Give us your ideas. We don’t assume to have all the answers. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Sign up for our monthly newsletter off of our web site.
  • Visit our website often. We write two monthly blogs.
  • Follow our social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @forwardINwayne.

We wish you the best for 2021. Happy holidays and have a safe and Happy New Year!

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