Many communities are diverse; few are integrated. Diversity may find people of different races and ethnicities living near each other, but integration finds them living with each other – interacting, forming friendships, participating fully in the community’s economic, political, civic and cultural life.
The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race is a nationally recognized non-profit organization committed to building a thriving racially integrated suburban community. The Coalition has implemented successful strategies that have resulted in stably integrated residential neighborhoods throughout these two towns – an achievement that has drawn the attention and respect of individuals and municipalities throughout the state and across the country.Our guiding principle is intentional integration: we develop strategies that promote racial inclusion in all aspects of community life.
We accomplish our work through a committee structure designed to address critical areas in the community in need of racial integration and equity:
Community Engagement Bringing the community together to learn, to build relationships across racial and cultural barriers, and to celebrate differences is the focus of this mission area. Volunteers are active in one or more events and projects like the annual MLK Celebration, Conversations on Race, the Civic Engagement Institute, Integration through the Arts programs, Coffee House Discussions, and XRootsFest—our annual multicultural festival.
Marketing Communications Promoting the welcoming and inclusive nature of our towns to potential homebuyers, and raising local, regional, and national awareness for the Coalition on Race’s mission and programs are the goals of this group. Volunteers identify target audiences and publications for placing promotional ads, develop stories, oversee our website and social media marketing, and support Coalition events with outbound communications.
MERT (Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, & Testing) Collecting and analyzing demographic data to assess the state of racial integration in SOMA and to support the pro-integrative strategies of the Coalition. Demographic reports are available here.
Residential Using pro-integrative strategies to support stable racial integration in our towns’ neighborhoods, this group works with realtors and neighborhood associations, gives tours to prospective home-buyers, and oversees a Home Maintenance Loan in support of strong and attractive neighborhoods.
Schools This group works to ensure that students of all races are expected and encouraged to excel in a community that is proud and supportive of our schools. It focuses on eliminating the academic achievement gap; promoting parental involvement; providing resources, information, and training to teachers and parents; and advocating for diversity hiring, and integrated schools and classrooms.