Guest post by Annie Suttle, KLA's Director of Marketing and Communications and Charlottesville, VA, resident.
Equity is a nut many cities are trying to crack, often creating new staff positions to get to the root of the problem. That includes Charlottesville, Virginia’s Youth Opportunity Coordinator, charged with outreach primarily to young African American men, who joined us for a recent episode of our Sustainability Action Series podcast.
Equitable engagement has been a prime area of focus for KLA and our clients in recent years, as cities from Indianapolis, IN, to New Bedford, MA, have worked with us to bring to the table folks you don’t always hear from -- and often the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in our communities.
So I took notice when my local community publication Charlottesville Tomorrow ran a piece about the city’s relatively new Youth Opportunity Coordinator, Daniel Fairley. The position and its charge seemed like a unique way to start tackling the problem in a place with a sullied reputation on this front. Let’s be honest, you hear “Charlottesville” and you probably think of it as the scene of the deadly white supremacist “Unite the Right” events of August 2017. Locals also know that just a year later the New York Times and Pro Publica ran a zinger of a story about the persistent racial divide and achievement gap in Charlottesville City Schools that led to, among other changes, a series of public forums, revamping of the gifted program, and the hiring of the first supervisor of equity and inclusion.