The Winston-Salem Poverty Thought Force delivered its final report to Mayor Allen Joines and the City Council on Feb. 13, 2017. The report includes 56 recommendations for policies that could reduce the poverty level in Winston-Salem. It also advocates designating a “poverty czar” who would coordinate current anti-poverty programs in the community and help implement new ones; and it lists nine national initiatives, such as the Purpose Built Communities Network and the GE Healthy Cities program, that could help the city in its push to reduce the poverty rate.
The Thought Force concentrated on five aspects of poverty: education and lifeskills, health and wellness, jobs and workforce development, housing and homelessness, and hunger and food insecurity. For each area, they held a “world café” to solicit ideas from the public. These events generated hundreds of ideas. The Thought Force also sought advice from regional and national experts on poverty, conducted surveys to get feedback on ideas, and engaged Forsyth Futures to provide a detailed analysis of the risk factors for, and the outcomes of, poverty in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.
Based on all of this, the Thought Force came up with an initial list of about 60 policy recommendations for these five areas. This initial list was then vetted in a sixth world café attended by people personally familiar with the rigors of living in poverty. After this sixth world café, the Thought Force came up with its final list of 56 recommendations.