RACF's Giving Initiative Releases New Book

May 2, 2013

A new book highlighting the racial and ethnic disparities in Rochester is now out on select store shelves.

The African American Giving Initiative of the Rochester Area Community Foundation released the "The State of Black Rochester 2013: Education + Employment = Equity" on Thursday. It's molded after the National Urban League's State of Black America.

The Giving Initiative is an effort focusing on growing the aspirations of and responding to the needs of Rochester's Black community through building a permanent grant fund specific to the needs of the African American community in Greater Rochester region.

The140-page paperback is a collection of data provided by ACT Rochester, and essays contributed from several community leaders and experts. City School Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, Wade Norwood and Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard are among 7 contributions.

The book also looks at issues such as structural inequality, health, education, criminal justice, economic development and African American philanthropy.

"Annually, African Americans give over 11 billion dollars to philanthropy," says Dana Miller is the vice president for advancement at the Community Foundation and the book editor. "That's a number that, quite honestly, staggered me. That's a number that  many people wouldn't recognize immediately."

Miller says the goal is for community leaders to use the information and data within in the book when making budgetary, spending, philanthropic and economic development decisions.

"In order to change ... we have to look at structures," says the CEO of Action for A Better Community, James Norman, who wrote the section in the book on Structural Inequality. He points out that the median wealth of blacks is 1/12 that of a Caucasian family. "We have to look at policies. We can't just focus on the individual. Although, the individual responsibility plays an very important part in what happens in people's lives, it's the structures and the policies that have a much greater influence."

The Giving Initiative awarded its first grant of $5,200 to The Gateways Music Festival. The president of the festival's board says the funding will be used to focus on youth during its fall event.

"The State of Black Rochester 2013: Education + Employment = Equity" can be found at Mood Makers in Village Gate and on Amazon.com. The proceeds from the book go toward the Giving Initiative's $1 million endowment goal.

The book is made possible by funding from Rural/Metro Corporation and the Rochester Area Community Foundation.