As the year comes to a close, I’m proud to share some highlights of the Council’s achievements and activities in 2017.
When I arrived in the summer of 2016, I learned quickly that the Council needed to assess our strategic direction (to increase our impact and strengthen our sustainability), and would benefit from an external evaluation (which several of you likely responded to). Early in the New Year we received the results which were insightful about what our partners and stakeholders value in our work.
In May I shared my vision for the Council’s work being more intentionally regional while narrowing our focus on economic and educational opportunities for vulnerable individuals and families in the Bay Area. We shared this vision with a group of some 14 supporters at a funders briefing convened by our friends from the San Francisco Foundation and the East Bay Community Foundation, resulting in a deeper level of donor engagement and support.
In June we had a reflection event to coincide with my first year as CEO and President that was facilitated by our illustrious founder, Angela Glover Blackwell. I discussed our plans to develop more public-private partnerships across the Bay Area, and we unveiled our new logo.
August was a big month as we kicked off the Council’s 30th Anniversary celebration with a formal corporate rebranding, complete with a new website. We also launched our inaugural Annual Fund which is the foundation of our individual giving program.
We also produced several timely, equity focused products. One was an analysis of early health and education outcomes for young boys of color for the Oakland Starting Smart and Strong Task Force. Another was a gap analysis for the City of San Leandro that revealed increased suburbanization of poverty, a trend that is impacting suburbs throughout the Bay Area. We also produced a displacement assessment for the A’s stadium project that found almost 6,000 housing units at risk of tenant displacement.
Collaboratives like Direct Connect to Community College, the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Project, and our career pathways work in Contra Costa County are just some examples of partners coming together to address complex economic, social, and racial justice issues. Efforts like these continue to flourish as we work together to address the impacts of our changing economy on all segments of society. Together we can ensure that all members have an equitable opportunity to prosper and live healthy lives.
Finally, we honor and give thanks to Bob Schwartz (our board Chair, and Director for 30 years) who passed away in early 2017. Bob’s dedication and commitment to the Council and our community was a shining example of the impact one person can make on the lives of many people. His spirit will continue to energize our effort and guide our work to build an inclusive, healthy, and just community.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff at Urban Strategies Council, I wish you a joyous and healthy holiday season.
David A. Harris