The county seat for Lucas County, Toledo, is a major port city in northwest Ohio and the fourth-most populous city in the state. The Uptown neighborhood in Toledo is a diverse, largely Black community. Although the neighborhood is experiencing a renaissance in organic arts and small businesses, many Uptown residents struggle with food insecurity and limited access to jobs that pay a living wage.
Since 2017, ProMedica, a nonprofit health and well-being organization, has worked to improve the quality of life in the Uptown neighborhood through the Ebeid Neighborhood Promise (ENP) initiative, which focuses on education, jobs and finances, stable housing and health. Acknowledging that community members’ perspectives are critical to meaningful community development, ProMedica launched the ENP Uptown Community Coalition to integrate community voice and choice into ENP. The coalition recognizes that addressing health inequities requires broad partnerships, including residents navigating social services, small business owners and community-based organizations.
“We cannot exist in a vacuum, and it only makes sense to partner,” said a member of the coalition. “Otherwise, how do we create the connectedness that a community needs to have? How do we create the cultural humility that is needed for us to coexist in communities and neighborhoods?”
The coalition uses local and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps data to identify health outcomes and disparities in the neighborhood. Through a new project of ENP, the Ohio Health Improvement Zone-Ebeid Neighborhood Promise (OHIZ-ENP) engages the community in data collection, leverages the expertise of community health workers to connect residents to health and resources and executes community-based interventions.
The coalition also uses data to inform investments in UpTown. The Uplift UpTown: Safety and Beautification Fund was the first initiative launched by the coalition and provides funding for community-led projects that improve safety and beautify the neighborhood. Projects like Manos Community Garden’s meditation labyrinth strive to transform the built environment, improve neighborhood safety and foster community connection.
The coalition encourages residents to take ownership in the neighborhood’s planning, beautification and health improvement efforts. Through community conversations, residents highlighted the need to support the unhoused, leading members to invite individuals that are homeless to sit on the coalition and represent a population that rarely has a seat at the table.
The coalition is a trusted voice in the community, successfully nurturing buy-in and collaboration among community members, business owners and social service providers striving to make Uptown a healthier neighborhood.
To learn more about Lucas County’s work, visit its full community spotlight.