Understanding Community Needs

Action Plan to Focus on Three Areas of Improvement

In November we reported that the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty was preparing to launch a first-ever Community Needs Assessment in conjunction with Ignite Philanthropy Advisors. Six months later, the Foundation has concluded the assessment and shares results.

After working with community leaders since October, the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty now has a clear understanding of specific needs that lie within West Chester and Liberty Township, and has outlined a plan to address these needs.

The Community Foundation, led by CEO and President Erin Clemons, focuses on encouraging, supporting and facilitating philanthropy and improving the quality of life in the West Chester and Liberty Township area. As an effort to identify the overall needs of the community, the assessment was designed to outline where philanthropy can make a greater impact in West Chester and Liberty Township. The Community Foundation worked in conjunction with Ignite Philanthropy Advisors, a Cincinnati-based firm that maximizes the power of giving for donors, foundations and nonprofit organizations.

One of the first steps to completing the assessment called for local leaders and community members to meet on December 6 for The Community Summit at Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center.

According to Clemons, the summit provided solid groundwork for an action plan to be formed.

“The summit was a ‘call to action’ for nearly 100 leaders from three community sectors: government, business and non-profit,” Clemons says. “The goal was to identify and prioritize issues in the community through the lens of these three groups, and generate excitement and buy-in across a range of community players.”

Three primary areas of focus surfaced from the needs assessment: transportation, education and workforce development. As a roadmap for the next five to ten years, the assessment will allow the Community Foundation to collaborate with local non-profit organizations, government sectors and businesses to fund these focal areas.

“Part of our responsibility is keeping a finger on the pulse of the needs in our area, and the needs assessment is helping us to do that more effectively,” Clemons explains. “Going forward, one of our goals is to be the ‘convener’ of various pockets of the community to promote collaboration so we are all more efficient, more strategic and more effective in creating a vibrant and thriving community. Convening stakeholders is a new type of leadership for us.”

Susan Ingmire, President of Philanthropic Affairs at Ignite, says Clemons and her team are now in a good position to meet the future needs of the area.

“[The Community Foundation] is excited about the results and the timing couldn’t be better,” Ingmire says. “The board and staff, under the direction of Erin Clemons, are charged up and ready to take action on the key findings. The Foundation is well-positioned to target its resources and its strengths toward making West Chester/Liberty an even better community in the coming years.”

And the team is wasting no time in responding to the assessment’s findings. Clemons says, “Already, we are partnering with Green Umbrella and Tri-State Trials to help fund a feasibility study for the Miami 2 Miami Connection, a major regional trail proposed to link Little Miami Scenic Trail and Great Miami River Trail in Warren and Butler Counties.”

From an education standpoint, the Community Foundation hopes to create more opportunities for community engagement on the K-12 level in conjunction with Lakota schools. Part of fulfilling the needs identified in the assessment will come from this community involvement. Clemons says there are always opportunities for community members to get involved—whether it is donating to one of the community improvement initiative funds, volunteering for a program or serving on a Foundation committee.

For additional information, the West Chester-Liberty Community Foundation has a complete report of the needs assessment on their website. WCLFoundation.com