Community Summit provides dialogue, addresses needs in West Chester/Liberty

December 20, 2016  |  community needs, impact

The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty hosted nearly 100 area leaders for a Community Summit on Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table and indoorTuesday, December 6th at Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center. The Summit was the first step in a 6-month Needs Assessment process, led by Ignite Philanthropy, that will result in a Community Needs Assessment Report outlining opportunities in the region where philanthropy can make a meaningful impact.

The purpose of the Summit was to engage community leaders in discussion to identify areas of need in West Chester and Liberty Township. Summit attendees spent time in learning sessions divided by 3 sectors: business, government & economic development, and families & education.  Session facilitators included: Kristen Bitonte, Liberty Township Administrator; Judi Boyko, West Chester Township Administrator; Ray Murray, Lakota School Board Member; Lourdes Ward, Reach Out Lakota CEO; Joe Hinson, West Chester/Liberty Chamber Alliance President & CEO; and Bill McCloy, President & CEO of CE Power.

Group work sessions resulted in 5 preliminary themes, all of which will be examined further as the needs assessment process continues in 2017:

  •          Communication: People in the community do not have the access or the skills to know what is going on and have limited awareness of community needs and initiatives, all of which prevents them from contributing to solutions.
  •          Education: Lack of funding for arts, music and extracurricular activities leads to a decrease in student engagement and enrichment. Lack of vocational training options leads to unfilled or disappearing job opportunities.
  •          Institutional Fragmentation:  Government, businesses & nonprofits need to communicate and coordinate their efforts instead of working independently.
  •          Transportation: We don’t know what we have, what we need, or what the plan is, but we do know that a lack of transportation options is preventing access, growth & community.
  •          Workforce Development: The lack of a skilled workforce means that employers’ needs are not being met, and more community amenities are needed to attract workers and businesses.

Additional research will be done utilizing census data and focus groups to clarify and potentially expand on the identified areas of needs.

 “A final report from the needs assessment will be shared with local government, nonprofit agencies, and other local organizations in the hopes of identifying areas of potential collaboration,” said Erin Clemons, Community Foundation president & CEO.  

The needs assessment comes as a result of an extensive strategic planning process completed by the Foundation board and staff in 2015 in order to better define organizational goals and create actionable strategies to achieve those goals. One key finding of the process was the need to increase awareness of the Foundation as a leader and resource for philanthropy in the region.

“The goals that emerged from the strategic planning process really focus on what we, as a Foundation, can do to lead and support community improvements,” said Community Foundation board chair Ian Murray. “Part of that is doing a better job of letting people know we are here to make a difference. A needs assessment will equip us with the tools to accomplish that.”

Murray said data from the community needs assessment will enable the Foundation to focus its efforts on areas of greatest need, while also being able to assist donors in making the biggest impact locally with their charitable dollars.

The Community Needs Assessment is expected to conclude in April 2017.

For additional information about the Community Needs Assessment, or to learn how you can get involved, contact Karen at 513.682.8061 or

The Community Foundation works to encourage, support and facilitate philanthropy and improve the quality of life in West Chester and Liberty Townships. To learn more about the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, visit