Near East Side Group to Refocus After Loss of Funding
A shakeup in its funding structure has led to some significant changes for Partners Achieving Community Transformation (PACT), a Near East Side organization that has been active in the neighborhood for almost 10 years.
PACT was formed in 2010 as a joint venture, with funding and oversight provided in equal parts by the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), the City of Columbus and Ohio State University. The organization spearheaded the development of a plan for the neighborhood, and has since supported programming designed to implement the recommendations of that plan.
The city and CMHA recently decided to end their involvement in PACT, leading to a reduction in staff. Three employees were let go, including David Cofer, who was brought on as Executive Director of the organization in 2017.
Ohio State will continue its support, and Autumn Glover, Government Affairs and Community Relations Consultant for OSU, will continue to work out of the organization’s office at 211 Taylor Ave., assuming the role of Interim President.
As one of the original staff members at PACT and the former Director of Planning and Community Development, Glover has seen the organization evolve as the neighborhood changed around it, something she says will need to continue now.
“From an external perspective, what the community sees, nothing is different, all programs and projects continue,” she said. “The goals have not changed, but the action steps might change.”
Glover also acknowledged, though, that it will be necessary to re-engage with the community about what exactly PACT is and what kind of programs they will continue to support (she said sometimes community members have expressed confusion about the role of the organization).
“This is a good time to take a pause, to look and see what’s left to do (and) to refine and refresh our strategy,” she said, adding that Near East Side residents can expect to hear about a series of outreach meetings in early 2020 to set goals for the organization through 2025.
PACT’s new board will be smaller (seven members as opposed to 15) and will now feature three OSU appointees and four community directors.
The ending of the city’s support of PACT comes as Mayor Andrew Ginther has focused more on city-wide initiatives aimed at tackling issues like affordable housing, mobility and infant mortality. That means less support for neighborhood-specific programs like PACT (which was initiated by the previous administration).
Glover said that the search is now on for new partners to support the work of PACT.
“The Near East Side is very special to us,” she said, “we hold our responsibility to the neighborhood near and dear to our hearts,”