For little or no cost, people across Richland and Lexington Counties can join a national movement — a grassroots effort to strengthen our communities from within — by hosting a gathering on Oct. 22, 2019 as part of the On the Table initiative powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation. Hosts can sign up at www.onthetablecola.org to view pictures, listen to testimonials and learn how easy it is to join the movement.
For the second consecutive year, Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, encourages Richland and Lexington County residents, businesses and organizations to continue the conversation by signing up as table hosts for On the Table. This daylong civic conversation provides an opportunity for people to discuss creating or advancing a more generous, vibrant and engaged community.
“We are incredibly grateful for our new and returning On the Table hosts who are working with us to make our communities stronger,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “In year two, we are hoping to expand our reach and allow more voices to be heard. By listening to our neighbors, we are able to learn from one another and have a greater impact on our region.”
Finding Your Place On the Table
Hosts determine the place, guests, time and topics of their respective conversations. All Richland or Lexington County residents, nonprofits, places of worship, businesses and other organizations can participate. The hosts can choose who to invite as guests (six to 12 per table) or open their table to the public.
Hosts also determine the location and time for their On the Table conversations, that can be held in homes, restaurants, parks or community spaces at any time on October 22 — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even before or after work or late in the evening. Food can be provided by the host or guests can purchase their own food, contribute to a potluck, or bring their own.
Additionally, Panera Bread is supporting conversations at its Lexington and Richland County locations. The restaurant is offering a 10 percent catering discount as well as waiving the setup and delivery fee for all hosts. A full list of On the Table sites open to the public are available at www.onthetablecola.org/public-tables.
New this year, a survey specifically for youth On the Table participants will be distributed in an effort to capture the distinctive views of the generations that will shape the future of our region. Young adults, youth-serving organizations and schools who are interested in hosting or participating in a conversation should contact [email protected].
Visit www.onthetablecola.org/resources for the hosting tips toolkit, which includes suggested discussion questions and other helpful resources to have a productive On the Table experience. The host and participants can certainly select their own topics as well.
On the Table Superhosts
Superhosts are organizations that commit to hosting at least five tables. If any nonprofit, place of worship, business, school, civic organization, or other organization is interested in being a superhost, please contact the Foundation at 803-254-5601 or [email protected]. Current superhosts include Cola Gives, Historic Columbia, Lexington Library, Midlands Mediation Center, Midlands Technical College, Mission Lexington, Montessori School of Columbia, Richland Library and Women’s Club of Cayce.
Leading On the Table
The Foundation is hosting a series of training and networking sessions for individuals and organizations interested in hosting a table. Attendees will receive their Host Toolkit which includes conversation guides, suggested prompts and other approaches that can promote full participation from the group. A series of training sessions are being offered to accommodate host schedules, including the following:
· Tuesday, October 1 at 8:00 AM at the Foundation’s office
· Thursday, October 3 at 5:30 PM at the Foundation’s office
· Tuesday, October 8 at 5:30 PM at the Foundation’s office
· Thursday, October 10 at 8:00 AM at the Foundation’s office
· Tuesday, October 1 at 12:00 PM at the Lexington Main Library
For hosts who are unable to attend in-person, an online training session will be made available. It is not required to attend the training in order to host a table.
After On the Table
Following On the Table, participants will be asked to complete a brief survey in-person or online about their experiences and discussed topics. The survey results will be compiled by national research partners Hart Research Firm and Public Opinion Strategies. The Foundation will release a community report that highlights the survey findings to the public, community leaders and elected officials to provide information about the conversations and guide decisions about our communities in the future.
On the Table and Beyond
In 2018, 90 percent of survey respondents reported they would like to take specific action on an issue they discussed at On the Table. To embrace On the Table conversation topics, the Foundation is again awarding Beyond the Table mini-grants. Last year, the Foundation funded projects from 11 nonprofits in areas identified as community priorities based on the survey.
Nonprofit organizations and individuals with a fiscal sponsorship can apply for grants up to $2,000 for a project that addresses one of the issues identified as a community priority through the 2018 On the Table report. Applications will open on October 22. Information about the grants can be found at www.onthetablecola.org.
Rooted in a National Initiative
On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation conversations are part of a national initiative funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Support for On the Table advances Knight Foundation’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory.
For more information or to sign up to host, visit www.onthetablecola.org or call 803.254.5601.