‘Rise Together’: City initiative aims to tackle social injustices, long-term issues


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  The City of Wilmington is trying to bring the community together through a new initiative called the ‘Rise Together Initiative’. The initiative was passed unanimously by Wilmington City Council in August.

Over the last several months, people have voiced their concerns about a number of different issues, so the city is trying to come up with a tangible plan to tackle those problems.

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“There are some issues that we haven’t dealt with in 400 years that we need to deal with, and there are things that have been happening systemically that have placed some people at a disadvantage. What can we do now to correct that?” City Councilman Clifford Barnett said.

This new initiative is designed to use some of those concerns to develop long-term plans which tackle the issues over time.

Mayor Bill Saffo says they’re taking a look at what the city does will, and what needs improvement, and then looking at how to make those improvements.

“This is a broad initiative, and it’s going to take some work,” Saffo said. “It’s going to involve health. It’s going to involve affordable housing. It’s going to involve education. It’s going to involve job training, so public and private sectors will be involved in the process.”

Saffo says they’ll also look at the city’s non-profit organizations and partnerships, and how they can allocate more funding to programs in need. He says the initiative start with a city evaluation, which will look at the community’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s kind of a two-prong approach here,” Saffo said. “One will be to start working for this year’s budget, and what additional monies do we want to put into those programs that we think are going to improve the people’s lives.”

The other side relies on the input from community partners, businesses and people at home.

“Overall more long-term plan and goal is, to where we want to go as a community and a city in the 21st century,” Saffo said.

Barnett says he’s very optimistic and excited about the initiative, because this is a tangible way to address some of those social injustices people have been speaking out about.

“We want more voices, because there are certain things that others see that we, perhaps can’t see,” Barnett said. “We’ve learned from what’s been happening the couple months or so is that, there are some real needs we have to meet, so we want to work on some things that are very sustainable.”

Saffo says some of these discussions with people in the community could happen through a public forum as time goes on.

He says they hope to get the city evaluation, which will be public, in the next month or two. After that, he says they’ll incorporate it into budget discussions, which will start in November.