Oakwood inclusion group expands Dayton-area outreach, membership, fundraising

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

The Oakwood Inclusion Coalition is broadening its regional outreach, taking part in more Dayton-area events and increasing its membership.

Recently completing its second full year, the group has expanded programs and involvement, grown its membership by more than 40% and stepped up fundraising efforts, officials said.

The OIC formed to “study, promote, and celebrate an inclusive, equitable, diverse and welcoming environment” for people who live, work or go through Oakwood, documents show. Its creation came after a 2019 report — which Oakwood city government officials said was “seriously flawed” — focused on its safety department’s treatment of minorities.

The population of the largely residential suburb of about 9,500 bordering Dayton is more than 92% white, according to 2020 U.S. Census data.

The coalition is “trying to be as inclusive and diverse as we can possibly be in every dimension,” said Chair Madeline Iseli.

It wants to bring “people together in ways that there’s something for everyone that will engage them and their interests, but also expand their experiences in connecting with people,” she added.

“We’re also looking to engage, for example, younger folks — kids and youth and students — as well as the more seasoned among us in our communities,” Iseli said.

Among the nearly 20 activities listed in its annual report since April 1, 2022, five of them include area education institutions, including Sinclair Community College and the University of Dayton.

Requests to be on the OIC’s mailing list total more than 425, many of whom live in Oakwood, she said.

The charitable citizen-led group endorsed by both the city and the school district has had “several homegrown initiatives” in the past 12 months, said Vice Chair Judy Cook.

Among them, according to its annual report:

• Co-hosted with Wright Memorial Public Library a month-long exhibition produced by Sinclair students that focused on “mapping equity.”

• Hosted a forum on refugee resettlement services in the region.

• Purchased signs that — in English, Spanish and Mandarin — promoted to Far Hills Avenue travelers the site of Oakwood’s Farmers Market.

The Sinclair exhibition showed how area communities “are still affected by the 1930 practice of red-lining,” a discriminatory practice, Cook told city council recently.

The group has also participated in of a variety of events, records show. They include the past two annual Martin Luther King Jr. marches in Dayton, a UD sponsored symposium on equity, and joined in discussing Kettering’s report on racial equity about survey results in that city.

The coalition had about a balance of about $16,600 at the end of 2022 with total contributions for that year of $9,160, its annual report states.

Consensus building this year “has been a challenge” for its leadership team, which has expanded to include about a dozen, Cook said.

“But as individuals we differ in perspectives on how to prioritize and accomplish our goals,” she said. “We have come to realize that the differing viewpoints of our leadership - to a large extent – reflects those of our citizens.”

The OIC formed to “study, promote, and celebrate an inclusive, equitable, diverse and welcoming environment” for people who live, work or go through Oakwood, documents show.

The OIC gained a 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service in May 2021, federal records show. It also established a fund through The Dayton Foundation.

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