From the desk of Harvest Foundation President Kate Keller
Hopefully, by now you have heard of Project Hope. We launched Project Hope last year to simultaneously celebrate our 20th Anniversary and to activate a component of our current strategic plan — building community connectedness.
Last year was a great success, and we are building on what we learned to continue Project Hope. Keep a look out in the next couple of weeks for the release of the application process, and we “hope” that the community has many great ideas!
Today, I would like to focus on the purpose of Project Hope — building community connectedness. When developing our current strategic plan, our local data were clear — we’ve been successful at bringing in new jobs and increasing wages but not successful at budging the poverty line. In addition to that data point, many people in our community told us that they weren’t hopeful for themselves or our community.
In researching economic mobility (understanding how people move up and down the economic ladder), the research is clear that social capital (those you know and are connected to) is important. It is also important in factors such as how long you will live. Connectedness is a strong predictor of health — physical and economic. (For a deeper dive into this: https://opportunityinsights.org/ and https://socialcapital.org/).
Building community connectedness is all about building relationships across this community, especially with people that are different from you (via race, income, language, ability, gender, etc.). Having relationships strengthens the community’s fabric, making us more resilient, healthy, and economically successful.
I encourage you to think about how you and your network can help build community connections. Maybe a Project Hope grant can help!