Community report card released

ROCHESTER — A regional "community report card" released last month by ACT Rochester shows that grades for such topics as education and housing are good but those for financial self-sufficiency and public safety show there’s room for improvement.

ACT Rochester, a partnership of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Rochester, presented the findings to more than 250 people on March 27 at the Memorial Art Gallery. The feedback that ACT Rochester receives from those local representatives of government, business, nonprofit and education will be used to decide what areas the community should tackle first and plan subsequent workshops, explained Ann Johnson, program director.

Obtaining community feedback was one of the three goals that ACT Rochester had in presenting the report card, Johnson said. The others were to create awareness of this work and provide a "brand" that the community will recognize, she added. The work that follows will help the community find solutions to such issues raised in the report as how to provide more low-incoming housing, for example, she said.

"How do we become a resilient community?" Johnson remarked.

ACT Rochester was created in 2006 to assess data in more than 100 community indicators, she explained. The report card aggregates those indicators and uses symbols, colors and arrows to provide a quick picture of where the region stands on 12 topic areas as compared to New York state as a whole. All the data was compiled and updated by the Center for Governmental Research, Johnson noted.

Finding solutions for issues raised by the data will require community analysis of the numbers, added Ed Doherty, vice president of community programs for the Rochester Area Community Foundation.

For example, an overview of education shows that schools are generally strong throughout the region, he explained. But if you look at data for fourth-grade and eighth-grade math and English statewide tests, the report shows that low-income students of any race are performing below statewide results for the same demographic. But students in Wyoming County — including those from low-income families — are performing better than the state averages, Doherty noted.

"This (information) raises many, many issues for us to have conversation on," he said.

Joan Roby-Davison, a community activist with Sector 4 representing the city’s southwest, said the report helps see these issues affecting neighborhoods she works with in a bigger context. And this regional perspective helps people avoid an us vs. them mentality of when it comes to some issues, she added.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information or to read the Community Report Card, visit www.ACTRochester.org.

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