Living Cities: Building OneCranston through Collective Impact

As a Working Cities Challenge participant, Cranston, Rhode Island is working to undo the city's longstanding racial divides. Two partners in the work reflect on efforts to build unity through collective impact, and share tools and resources that they've found valuable.

Uniting for OneCranston

Cranston, Rhode Island—like many of America's cities, suburban towns and rural communities—is a place where the historical influences of systemic racism continue to live under the cover of good intentions. As deeply involved partners in the community, we set out to learn about the City's history and how we got to today's inequities. One of us, Ayana, is the Initiative Director for OneCranston, our cross-sector collective impact table; the other, Annette, is a member of the Civic Design Team and a long-time parent in the Cranston public school district. Through conversations with local residents, we captured stories of dynamics that plague all of our cities, big and small, but also heard a vision of a united city where all children thrive in school, all parents accomplish their professional dreams, and all residents are able to care for their families and community.

Like many cities in America split due to redlining in the 1930's, Cranston's historical divided lines live on today as East versus West. In the 1970s, the Western side became a destination for those escaping the urbanization and growing diversity of the Eastern side—the proverbial “white flight.” Income disparity and racial identity continue to feed this divide, and have kept us from fully integrating into “OneCranston,” focused on equitable results for all people. In a post- Brown vs. Board of Education America, nationwide our schools are proof points that segregation continues in America, supporting the continued oppression of students of color. Cranston is no exception—a small city with a great divide.

To view the complete article, visit Living Cities

Courtesy of Living Cities

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