New Year for Reinvision

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Dear friends,

As we kick off the new year, Restoration is proud to look back on 2019 as a remarkable achievement, in part due to feedback we received from community members like you. We are now on the cusp of implementing a new vision for a redesigned Restoration Plaza, one that will usher in a renewed era for our organization and our neighborhood as we expand our efforts to close the racial wealth gap.

But there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to close the racial wealth gap -- a crisis which continues to deepen as many look by unaware. Pew Research has reported that many Americans believe that the median African American family has approximately 80 percent of the net worth of the median White household. That’s far from the truth.

In fact, the median African American household has approximately six percent of the net worth of the median white household, while the median Latino household is approximately eight percent. These wealth gap concerns are prevalent at all levels of society; African Americans with at least a college
degree still have about 30 percent less wealth than whites without a college degree, and African Americans in the top one-fifth of the income distribution have less than one-third of the wealth of whites in the same level.

Restoration is keenly aware that these numbers are the results of decades of systemic discrimination and is preparing to launch new programs that will help residents build savings, equity, and become more resilient in the face of financial shocks.

But to make these programs work for our community, the first step was ensuring they were tailored to your needs.

Throughout 2019 we held several visioning sessions with dozens of members of the community to design a plan that addresses neighborhood needs focused on intentionally reframing community development practice and advocacy as an effective tool for disrupting and closing the racial wealth gap.

During these sessions we learned that there was a strong desire for Restoration to serve as an incubator for businesses and education, to provide a space for family and friends to come together for events, and to continue to be an anchor of arts and culture for local residents.

You asked and we listened. Thanks to you, we’ve incorporated your feedback into a vision that is even better than before. Using your feedback, our plan has reached the next level and will:

  • Improve access to the Restoration Plaza open space;
  • Increase the visibility of art programs;
  • Bring in more retail amenities, and most importantly;
  • Expand educational and economic opportunities, especially for young adults.

But the job is not done and the challenge of closing the racial wealth gap is not easy. We will continue working tirelessly this year to meet our goals, we will continue listening to your voices as we finalize our vision for a redesigned Restoration Plaza. Part of this effort means continued outreach to people from all backgrounds, including employers and educators, so that the future of Restoration Plaza stays true to our mission, elevates our community and our city, promotes an equitable Brooklyn economy and brings a host of new educational and competitive wage employment initiatives.

The next stage of our visioning sessions will begin in the weeks ahead, and we encourage you to spread the word to friends and family to continue the conversation with us throughout 2020.

Sincerely,
Colvin W. Grannum
President and CEO, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation