Poverty Thought Force report presented to county commissioners

Mayor Allen Joines speaks about the Poverty Thought Forces’ final report to Forsyth County Commissioners during a briefing on Thursday, March 16.

Poverty Thought Force report presented to county commissioners
March 23
05:15 2017

Photo by Todd Luck



Mayor Allen Joines and Wake Forest Provost Rogan Kersh presented the Poverty Thought Force’s final report to Forsyth County Commissioners last week.

Joines formed the Thought Force to find ideas to decrease the city’s poverty rate, which was 23 percent in 2015.  He appointed Kersh to chair the 22-member committee and held meetings to gather ideas from the public, which the Thought Force narrowed into the 56 recommendations in its final report that deal with housing, education, hunger, employment and health.

Joines said after spending trillions on poverty nationwide he felt the country had lost the “War on Poverty” and needed new ideas to combat the problem.

“We thought we’d try a differ-ent approach,” said Joines at the commissioners’ briefing on Thursday.

Some of the ideas mentioned to the commissioners included a poverty tzar to coordinate implementation of the plan, joining national poverty initiatives and universal pre-k education.

Commissioner Everette Witherspoon said universal pre-k is needed and he appreciated the focus on poverty.

“To address this is a big step forward for our community,” said Witherspoon.

The report listed several local initiatives working toward pre-k education including Family Services’ Universal Pre-K Initiative, Forsyth Promise’s Collaborative Action Network focusing on kindergarten readiness and Project Impact, which is raising $45 million over six years to provide early education for 1,200 children.

County Commissioner Chair Dave Plyler said the county will support the anti-poverty efforts.

“We certainly are going to take a hard look at it, and it’s a major problem, we understand that,” said Plyler.

The commissioners are scheduled to vote to officially accept the report in their next business meeting. Joines plans to present the report next to the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce and the local school board, in hopes to get as many organizations to help with it as possible. The Thought Force is working on ways to implement the plan. The poverty tzar may be hired next fiscal year, which starts in July. Funding for the position is currently being sought.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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