On The Table survey results reveal a fairly optimistic Macon

The Community Foundation of Central Georgia (CFCG) released the survey results of the 2018 On The Table Macon conversations on Wednesday.

More than 5,000 people attended the conversations held last year, and 782 of those people participated in the survey related to the issues discussed.

“We are well on our way to changing our community,” said Nancy Cleveland, communications and development associate at the CFCG. “The aftermath of On The Table is what’s important and sharing this data with you and affecting change in the community.”

Although the participants in the adult survey said the Macon community could improve, 66 percent of the participants said they were hopeful for the future compared to the 34 percent who said they were worried, according to the results.

“Macon-Bibb County residents have a good spirit and a good attitude,” Cleveland said.

Crime and public safety (55 percent) and economic security (53 percent) are listed as top concerns by survey participants.

The participants viewed nonprofits (67 percent) and faith-based organizations (52 percent) as having the greatest chance to help bring about change, according to the survey report.

To improve the Macon-Bibb County community, 48 percent of participants said there needs to be more job training for unemployed and low-income people.

Also noted in the report, 47 percent said the county government needs to have more fiscal stability.

In the youth survey, participants generally had a more optimistic outlook for the future of the Macon-Bibb community, but 63 percent said violence and gangs are major concerns.

A majority of the survey participants identified as female, and 74 percent had completed a bachelor’s degree or a higher level of education. A third of the participants identified as African American with 59 percent identifying as white.

Cleveland said in her presentation that results differed depending on the demographics of the participants.

The survey results are available and searchable at the On The Table website.

Moving forward, Kathryn Dennis, president of CFCG, said they want more people involved.

“Our plan is to get more people period. I mean I want to get into five-plus digits of people taking this survey,” Dennis said.

Cleveland said they are coming up with a plan to get participants more involved with taking the surveys next year, including possibly getting tablets or having paper surveys at the different conversations.

Cleveland said the foundation set aside $20,000 for Conversations to Action Mini-Grants at the start of On The Table, and they awarded $15,000 of those grants in December.

The other $5,000 will be used to create resources for the community, Cleveland said.

“Once we awarded the $15,000, we saw a lot of the respondents had similar themes. They wanted to get more information out. They wanted a resource guide, a resource page, someone to collect all of the resources,” Cleveland said. “Instead of funding all these individual projects, let’s bring them all to the table.”

She said they plan to have a conversation with different nonprofits and organizations in the community to create this resource.

The foundation will be monitoring the progress of the mini-grants until the next On The Table Macon, she said.

Lynn Murphey, the Knight Foundation program director for Macon, announced the next On The Table Macon is set for Oct. 30.

“This is not the first chapter in our book,” she said. “I think it’s basically the prologue, and I’m really excited to see what comes out of this On The Table experience and our future On The Table experiences, as well.”