Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative to Announce New Strategic Plan at Community Forum

Santa Fe College’s Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative will announce exciting new changes at its annual Community Forum, 6-7:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 2505 NE 8th Ave.

Among the event’s activities, organizers will unveil the strategic plan for 2011-2016, replacing the plan that was slated for 2005 through 2010.

“We’re going to enhance what we’ve done, because I think we’ve been pretty successful at it with the collaboration of our community partners,” said Karen Cole-Smith, executive director.

Founded by Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser in 2002, Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative has been fighting poverty and assisting citizens throughout the county by offering educational outreach for all ages, vocational training, community empowerment events, and access to the internet and today’s necessary technology. One of the reasons for this forum is to display advances made in these areas.

“The commitment has always been to bring the community together and present a report card, a progress report, to show what we’ve been able to do,” said Cole-Smith.

In previous years, attendance at the community forum has numbered around 100, including representatives from community-based and faith-based partnerships. The forum, however, is relying on program participants, parents, and interested members of the community to provide their personal suggestions for what Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative should be doing.

“Feedback actually drives what we do. The reality is to be effective you need to hear from the people,” said Cole-Smith. “It’s not about what we want to do, but what people need from us.”

One of the biggest obstacles for Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative, according to Cole-Smith, is simply spreading the word about the events and programs they offer.

“Our general goal is to make sure as a college we connect to the community and let the community know of all the educational resources we offer,” sayid Cole-Smith. “We want to go above and beyond to make sure people are informed, because the only way for social change and economic renewal is through education.”

The East Gainesville Initiative will also reveal its new name on the night of the forum.

“An ‘initiative’ is something that’s new and getting off the ground. We’ve been in existence since 2002, so that’s the reason for the name change,” sayid Cole-Smith. “It’s a new name, a new strategic plan, but it’s the same commitment.”

For more information, please contact Karen Cole-Smith at 352-395-5767.

~ This press release is by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations


  • Karen Cole-Smith, executive director, 352-395-5767 (Karen’t assistant is at 352-381-7053)
  • Julie Garrett, for help facilitating your story, 352-395-5430 (office) or 352-870-2924 (cell) or