MADISON (WKOW) -- An initiative that's part of the Urban League of Greater Madison is striving to transform the south part of town into a community of opportunity, and they're looking for ideas from people who live there.
South Madison Promise Zone (SMPZ) held a meeting Wednesday called "Get it Right Night". It was a chance for residents to come together and share their input, to improve the neighborhoods and help find ways for children to become successful.
Earlier this summer, organizers went straight to their biggest asset-- the people. They went door to door handing out surveys, to find out what residents were concerned about in the three targeted neighborhoods of the program-- Bram's Addition, Burr Oaks, and Capitol View.
After reviewing results from nearly 500 people, SPMZ found four focus areas. With a median income under $25-thousand in two of the neighborhoods, many people said they struggle with access to healthcare, employment, education and a sense of community.
SPMZ's plan to bring change will form "innovation teams" made up of city agencies and residents to find solutions.
"Collectively, as a group, we can impact poverty and achievement gaps and hunger much more effectively than we do in isolation," says Peng Her, with SMPZ.
The idea is to get residents talking about the issues in the community, to bring the diverse sets of people living in these neighborhoods together.
"Even though it's really one of the most diverse parts of the community here in Madison, a lot of the residents don't understand the cultural norms of other cultures," says Her.
Safety is one of the biggest concerns for families throughout the south side. The survey found that lack of understanding of other cultures is part of what makes families who responded feel unsafe, so working together could help cut through those barriers.
Tamika Robinson lives in the Bram's Addition neighborhood. With two young kids, she's always looking for safe ways to keep them busy. She's hoping SMPZ's initiatives can help bring the community together, so her children can get to know more of their neighbors.
"There are people who care about what their kids do, and then there's people who don't," says Robinson. "It takes people that really care to put down their thoughts for people to listen."
SMPZ is looking for neighborhood parents willing to join their innovation teams, to work towards solutions.
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