A Successful Day of Meaningful Community Conversations

The second annual On the Table day of conversations on Oct. 22, 2019, brought more than 2,160 residents of Richland and Lexington Counties together at more than 216 tables, breaking attendance records from 2018. Attendees discussed the future of our region and left with fresh, innovative ideas to work together and improve our communities. To help these ideas become reality, CCCF has launched Beyond the Table mini-grants.

“This year, over 2,000 people joined a table and discussed how we can work together to move our region forward,” said JoAnn Turnquist, CCCF president and CEO. “The conversations identified ways we can collaborate and make smart investments of time and talent in one another. Many thanks to our table hosts whose generous investments in our community made these conversations possible. We’re looking forward to sharing the results in early 2020.”

Conversations took place at tables across the community in public parks, homes, restaurants, places of worship, schools, and other neighborhood centers, with topics ranging from youth entrepreneurship to nonprofit collaboration, gentrification and community building. Additionally, an effort to encourage youth participation this year led to 41 youth-focused tables.

Senior Resources hosted a table at their office about improving the Millwood Corridor. The Columbia Museum of Art’s breakfast conversations focused on community improvement. Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority’s conversations, at The COMET headquarters, centered around public transportation. One Columbia hosted public tables at the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park. Feelings of inspiration, excitement, and optimism were found at table conversations all across the Midlands.

“I was excited to see stakeholders from diverse parts of our community literally coming around the table to talk about the various things that we have to deal with as a community,” says Adam Naughton, founder of Three Dog Digital, who attended a table at the Chapin Town Hall. “There were many different interests and mindsets which made for great conversation. It’s inspiring because you know that everybody at the table cares and has a stake in where this community is headed.”


Applications now open for Beyond the Table Mini-Grants

To support actionable ideas that spurred from On the Table conversations, the Community Foundation is again awarding Beyond the Table mini-grants. These quick-action grants will support ideas from conversations as they turn into projects across the region. Nonprofit organizations and individuals with a fiscal sponsorship can now apply for grants up to $2,000 for a project that addresses one of the issues identified as a community priority through the 2018 On the Table report.

Results that Lead to Change

At the conclusion of the conversations, participants were encouraged to complete a brief online or in-person survey about their On the Table experiences and the topics they discussed. The survey results will be compiled by national research partners Hart Research Firm and Public Opinion Strategies and provided to the Community Foundation staff who will release a community report to the public. The results also will be shared with community leaders, elected officials, and other decision-makers to help provide a deeper understanding of the conversations and inform how decisions about our communities are made in the months and years ahead.

Ignited by a National Initiative

On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation, is part of a national initiative funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014.

Support for On the Table advances Knight Foundation’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory. On the Table Cola is generously funded by First Citizens Bank.