Monday, June 21, 2010

2nd Annual Poverty Symposium

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of attending the area's 2nd Annual Poverty Symposium. The event was a great resource for networking and getting the most current statistics of poverty and related issues on a national and local level.
I had a chance to talk to the guest speaker, Deborah Weinstein, of the Coalition on Human Needs about what areas still need to be developed in the world of non-profits and aid organizations. The biggest issue we saw is accessibility of information.
For our purposes, "accessible" can be defined in two ways:
1a: of being reached also being within reach b : easy to communicate or deal with
2: capable of being understood or appreciated
These definitions translate into the following questions that must be answered to effectively build grassroots coalitions and change
1. How effective are we at getting out the word about our most important issues, services offered and ways to help?
2. Is the information we are sending out easily understood by people of all races, classes, genders?

5 weeks down and 5 more weeks to go of research!


  1. Have there been effectiveness studies done on how non-profits/aid orgs go about making decisions about the medium for conveying (accessibly) the information? "Back in the day," I think, you could count on reaching a large segment of any population if you got into the local paper + the local churches (+ maybe local radio). Most people in any given community could get access to information in those ways, and then you'd have the compounding effect of lots of people getting the information via similar routes and then being able to informally test their understanding of the information by talking about what they thought they heard. I suspect it's much harder now to identify a few core media that reach across broadly and down deeply into communities. How have nonprofits/aid orgs successfully conveyed information -- what media prove most effective?

  2. Kit - I just got your comment today! Your question is one that plagues most non profit organizations today. Judging from my experiences, non profits are reaching out to leaders in the community, or those who have a lot of sway in their neighborhood and asking them to spread the message. Social networking sites aren't accessible on a regular basis to the majority of the population in Utica, so the internet is not a viable option when trying to reach poorer communities.
    Within Utica, there is a newspaper called The Utica Phoenix - it is an independent paper that is run by a woman who actually graduated from Hamilton in the '70s. She has a lot of "street cred" and her paper is free so everyone reads it. City Hall tries to please her a lot because they would be jobless without her endorsements.

    You may have just provided me with my Communication thesis topic!