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Founded in September 1993, Coming Together Project began as a year-long series on race relations published by the Akron Beacon Journal. The series, which was awarded the 1994 Pulitzer Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service, focused attention on disparities between blacks and whites in the areas of housing, economics, crime and educational opportunities. As part of the series, the newspaper asked organizations in the community to band together to work on improving race relations. It called this community-based effort Coming Together Project.
Even before the final stories were printed, dozens of community groups responded. As the newspaper started Coming Together, more than 60 civic, social, religious and educational organizations joined in the process. Within two years, there were 200 member organizations participating, and in December 1995 the Project was chartered as a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation.
The programs, workshops and cultural events explained here -- and the responses they elicited from the community -- made it possible for Coming Together Project to meet these goals:
The Coming Together Project is dedicated to helping expand the concepts of the organization beyond its original boundaries. We believe that the development of good relations between the races is an essential goal for the nation, if we as Americans are going to achieve our constitutional objective of the establishment of a more perfect union. Our staff and volunteers have been developing plans that other communities can replicate, creating their own version of Coming Together. In 1999, Akrons Coming Together Project began a collaboration with citizens of Decatur, Illinois, who wanted to start a similar project in their community. Residents of Decatur visited Akron to learn about the project. Then members of the Akron organization went to Decatur to help folks in that community begin their own organization.
There are five basic steps to starting a program in your community. To learn more about starting your own Coming Together Project, please contact: