In 2016, people across Oak Ridge came together in three “listening sessions” designed to allow people of all groups to express and share their concerns as residents of this area. Led by three ministers in our community the meetings attracted several hundred people who brought up many concerns that affected them. Some of the issues mentioned were disparity in suspension rates among racial groups at the high school, a concern about racial profiling from the police force, recreation and job opportunities for our young adults, and transportation obstacles for the disabled and the elderly. A few months later a small group began exploring what community organizing would look like in this city. They called on the counsel and coaching of the Gamaliel Foundation, internationally recognized for their experience and expertise in training community and faith leaders to build organizations that unite people of diverse faiths and races.
In 2017, after attending a leadership training at the Alex Haley Farm, attendees formed the group we now know as Strong & United. A vision was created of an “organization of organizations, whereby building a powerful coalition to achieve robust change and positive development in the Oak Ridge community.
Strong & United meets monthly, with member institutions serving as hosts on a rotating basis. Meeting times and locations are posted on our FACEBOOK page and this website.