Creating Inclusive Economic Prosperity Starts with Each of Us

Friday, September 14, 2018 - 12:21 pm
Sherry Ristau

Earlier this week, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to my desk. 

It was from the Community Foundation team to mark a milestone in my life—and my family’s life. We moved to the Quad Cities four years ago and I began working with an incredible group of people—board members and staff and donors and community members alike—here. 

As I sat in my office reading their notes, I sat back for a moment (not too long… there’s a lot going on these days!) to reflect on my time at the Community Foundation. The Quad Cities has become home. I have grown and learned so much from all of you.  

And by “all,” I mean all of the Quad Cities—the people, the cities, and places, and bridges, and venues, and events, and cultures… all of those components brought together by the Mississippi River. We share so much that is good. We also share the challenges. And we come together to work together to make our region the best it can possibly be. 

Last week, I attended a Council on Foundations convening on creating inclusive economic prosperity. The word “all” took on a deeper meaning during my time at the gathering. The question I pose: Do you—do we—care about the future for all in our community? 

If we do, we need to learn—and do something—about the growing number of people living in poverty. We need to come together. 

In the Quad Cities and across our nation, the demographic data is clear. The make-up of our communities is changing, and so too are the number of people living in poverty. At the convening, we were challenged to look at the grants we, as foundations, are making to address poverty in the places we serve. The needle isn’t moving in the right direction. 

Part of the solution is inclusive economic prosperity, which requires us to think and act differently. At the Community Foundation, we have taken our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and put it in our strategic framework. It is something we, as an organization, continue to be guided by in our decision-making. 

We know addressing big issues begins on the individual level. It is something that I, our board and staff, committed to four years when I arrived. And in the months and years ahead, we will continue to expand our thinking, build new relationships, and take actions that move the needle in the right direction.

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Inclusive Economic Prosperity