Racial Equity Community Agenda released

ROCHESTER — The Facing Race, Embracing Equity initiative (FR=EE), which launched in January 2013, is moving into an action phase with the release of its Racial Equity Community Agenda.

The 20 goals listed in that agenda focus on key areas of housing, health disparities, juvenile and criminal justice, education and economic opportunities, and jobs, according to information from organizers, which include ACT Rochester and Action for a Better Community. Focus groups spent more than 100 hours over the past year discussing how race intersects with those focus areas and presented action plans during a summit held May 31 at the First Asbury Methodist Church.

When it comes to addressing the needs of youths in the city of Rochester, Derek Coley said that one of the main challenges remains the negative portrayal of urban youths in the media. As director of the Monroe County Library’s "Safe to Be Smart" program, which provides activities for youths in the libraries located in the city, he sees a different side of these youths, he said.

"I see goodness," he said. "We listen. Our whole program was created for teens, to provide teens a space in the library."

As cochair of FR=EE’s social-justice committee, Coley said that he would like to see more equity in education and the criminal justice system for youths as well.

"I’m being optimistic," he said of FR=EE’s goals regarding youths that include reducing school suspensions, changing state laws regarding adult trial age, and increasing the availability of emotional-wellness, behavioral and mental-health services.

"I am hanging on to see some action," he added.

For more information on the FR=EE initiative and goals outlined during the summit, visit http://facebook.com/FacingRaceEmbracingEquity.

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