October 31, 2016
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How will communities unify to solve their most pressing issues?

Amid a polarizing election season, we asked Renewal Project contributors how they will rally their communities to get things done

Project Helping organizes volunteer events and connects those who want to volunteer in their communities. Photo courtesy of Project Helping

No matter who wins the White House on Nov. 8, it’s clear the country will remain divided. What is also clear—and reinforced by The Renewal Project’s regional polling—is that Americans want civic, business, and community leaders to try new ideas to solve their cities’ most pressing issues, and they believe that these groups should work together to achieve solutions.

We have been asking Renewal Project contributors to tell us how they are unifying their communities. These folks are the community leaders, business leaders, and even students who care about their neighborhoods and are working to make them better places to live. Read their answers below.

And we invite your feedback as well: What can you, or your organization, do to move your community forward to create solutions?


Listen and learn from those who feel most forgotten.

Anne Steptoe, co-founder of MedServe: Health care is a deeply divisive election issue and case study in how large-scale change can breed disappointment—disappointment that can devolve into distrust in elected officials and government. I disagree with the politics of many who feel this way, but I feel their disappointment keenly and mourn it. Our organization aims to improve health capacities in rural and other underserved communities. I can think of no more productive response to the anger of Election 2016 than to remember how important it is that my organization and others show up in person, listen and learn from those who feel most forgotten.


The key to innovation is collaboration.

Justin Kruger, co-founder of Project Helping: At Project Helping, we believe the key to innovation is collaboration. There is a lot of great work being done and together we can share and inspire new solutions. Collaboration reduces redundancies and improves efficiency to creates better outcomes. This ensures we are providing the best practices in both proven and innovative solutions that are delivered in a timely, well thought out manner that benefits the community and the organizations who are working together.


If we want to have 'winning' communities, we must inspire others despite how challenging the task at hand may be.

Sam Sesay, Founder and president of Game Plan, Inc.: At Game Plan, Inc., leadership development is one of our key programs. Our definition of leadership is the ability to inspire your team regardless of the current situation or outcome. This means that no matter how much the odds are stacked up against you, you continue to fight and motivate your team. If you’re down by four touchdowns or 30 points, you still have faith and are able to convince your team you can come back and win the game

This definition does not just apply to sports, but in life, as well. If we want to have “winning” communities, we must inspire others despite how challenging the task at hand may be. Sports has shown us that underdogs can still win.


Youth are our future and we need to start investing in them now so our country continues to move forward.

Razia Hutchins, Organizer of I Am For Peace: At the age of 15, I and two of my peers decided that we wanted to be the change that we envisioned in our community, and so we created the “I Am for Peace” movement. The movement grew because not only did our elders listen to us, they believed in us. As I grow older, I realize how important it is for us to concentrate on our youth because they have so many great ideas and ways to positively impact the nation. Youth are our future and we need to start investing in them now so our country continues to move forward.

Margaret Myers

The Renewal Project editor