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Home > Get Involved > Racial Equity Programs - Together. A Stronger Community > Person2Person

Strengthening Our Community One Relationship at a Time

The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County has been, and is, on the frontlines of issues of race and ethnicity, and their impact on all of us. There is no question that there has been much progress in reducing prejudice, embracing differences, and offering opportunities to every American; yet, there’s more work to do. A year ago, the YWCA asked itself: What can we uniquely offer that would contribute to a strengthened community? Our answer is Person2Person.



The reality is that many of us know only a few people of a different color; many of us do not have deep friendships or intimate understandings of someone of a different race or ethnicity. Where there are gaps of this magnitude, the best in each of us cannot be shared and focused for the benefit of our community.

Person2Person will provide an experience designed for people of different races and ethnicities to come together in ways that are engaging, enlightening, energizing, and, ultimately, sustainable. In researching paths we might undertake to develop our community-based program, we looked at several national and regional programs, including a past presidential initiative from 1998 called One America, and Partnerships in Pluralism, a diversity-networking program based at Rochester Institute of Technology since 2004. These programs resonated with us because they are based on the assumption that dialogue invites discovery; discovery invites fresh thinking and new initiatives.

The program we have designed will create several “partner pairs” – each pair to link people of different races or ethnicities with a person who is unlike themselves. Over the course of 9-months, these partner pairs will meet every two to three weeks to explore each other’s perspectives, challenges, interests, and insights. At times during this interval, the partner pairs will meet in clusters of five pairs to exchange experiences and enhance relationship building. The full group of an estimated 60 participants will meet at least twice during this inaugural year of 2014-2015. Our aim is to make Person2Person a long-term, sustainable program that brings people together. We believe connection is powerful.

Why Do This?

Rochester is a divided community. Poverty is distributed unevenly by race and ethnicity, as is access to housing, health care, education, justice, and employment. Surprising to so many, is the news that we are the fifth poorest city in the country, and our area’s poor are more heavily concentrated than almost any other metropolitan area in the country. We can do better.

The Rochester Area Community Foundation, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Rochester Business Alliance are our committed partners in this new endeavor. They believe, as we do, that starting conversations across racial and ethnic lines among community leaders can help create the interaction needed to forge a more promising future. We believe in our motto: Together. A Stronger Community.

Advisory Council

Daisy Rivera Algarin
Economic Development Specialist City of Rochester
Supervisor Adam Bello  SupervisorTown of Irondequoit 

Hon. Maggie Brooks

Vice President of Strategic InitiativesRTS 
Paul Burgett
Senior Adviser to the President University of Rochester 
Rev. Lawrence Hargrave
Pastor of Outreach MinistriesRetired 
Dr. William W. Destler
 President Rochester Institute of Technology 
Rev. Lawrence Hargrave
 Pastor of Outreach Ministries Asbury First United Methodist Church 
Dr. Anne Kress
 President Monroe Community College 
Jennifer Leonard
 President & CEO Rochester Area Community Foundation 
 Karen Magnuson
 Editor & Vice-President/News Democrat & Chronicle Media Group 
 Dr. Cynthia McGill  Co Pastor and President New Life Fellowship & Priceless Vessels Inc 
James H. Norman
President & CEOAction for a Better Community 
Wade S. Norwood
Director of Community EngagementFinger Lakes Health Systems Agency 
Dr. Muhammed Shafiq
Executive Director of the Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and DialogueNazareth College 
Maurice Snipe Director, Recruitment & Diversity RCSD 
David M. Tang, Esq. AssociateUnderberg & Kessler LLP 
Rabbi Debbi Till Community Relations DirectorJewish Federation of Greater Rochester 
Hon. Lovely A. Warren MayorCity of Rochester
Fran Weisberg  President & CEOUnited Way 
Laurie Zaucha VP, Human Resources & Organizational DevelopmentPaychex, Inc.