How can you, your company drive social impact? Five steps to making a difference

ReCity Executive Director Rob Shields brings a decade of experience in nonprofit management and service, with a focus on youth development. After serving in nonprofit leadership for nearly five years, Shields joined the visioning team for ReCity Network in 2014, becoming the organization’s founding Executive Director. Observing deep divisions in Triangle communities along lines of race, class, and opportunity, he was motivated to create a network of nonprofits, mission-driven businesses, and faith-based organizations that could collaborate to address the most challenging issues facing our communities. By bringing together dozens of organizations since ReCity’s 2016 launch, he has helped build a social impact hub, responding to demand for a more expansive mission of shared space and shared impact for the hundreds of nonprofits that call Durham home. Shields is a native North Carolinian and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2007.

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Tech on Tap: Tech on Change

The Premise:
The topics of social change and technology seem disparate and disjointed. However, regions across the country like the Triangle are seeming to benefit from an innovation economy that is growing at an exponential rate. The collateral damage is the many disenfranchised individuals throughout our region. Their chances of benefitting from that growth is very much a pipe dream. We focus our attention on social mobility, a term that simply highlights the likelihood that someone who is born into one economic demographic will move upward into another. The southeast of the United States and more specifically North Carolina is amongst the worst states in the country for the people having the ability to break the cycle of generational poverty. In short, whatever economic situation you are born into in North Carolina, there is a high likelihood that you will die in that same economic situation.

The Guests
Kia Baker:
Kia Baker is the Founding Executive Director of Southeast Raleigh Promise, a community quarterback organization overseeing the revitalization of the southeast Raleigh area of our region. Southeast Raleigh Promise is the 16th Purpose Built Community in the US and seeks to affect change with a multilayered approach to community development. Using the tenants of a defined neighborhood, community quarterbacking, mixed-income housing, cradle to career education, and community wellness. SER Promise engages the community by providing a holistic approach to change. Baker talks about how to overcome the issues with our failing educational infrastructure, giving people tools for success and how to get hyperfocused in problem-solving.

Find out more about what SER Promise is doing and the new elementary school they are building in partnership with the YMCA in downtown Raleigh.

Rob Shields:
Rob Shields is the Executive Director of the Recity Network, a coworking space for collaboration and operation for non-profits in the Durham, NC region. As an advocate for his community and the organizations holding up the city of Durham, Shields is always seeking to make connections that uplift the larget community while teaching others what it means to enlarge your circle. Shields sheds light on the disconnect between the growing number of nonprofits in the Durham region while the effectiveness of those organizations becomes more surface level and ineffective. He also sheds light on how we can all use our privilege to help a system, not built for some, succeed for all.

Engage with Recity and follow them online to see how to get engaged with the solution.

Syretta Hill:
Syretta Hill is the Executive Director of Step Up Durham. Step Up Durham is a 501 c3 organization that works to provide job training and job placement to the most disenfranchised and the those most in need of a second chance. Working with a team of community organizers and engagers, Syretta focuses her attention on how to uplift a community by seeing the best in each individual and helping the individual to see the best in themselves. Hill details what specific systems are in place that keep people relegated to their economic station and goes further to talk about how to engage with communities from the standpoint of humility and a listening ear.

Find out more about how you can help the mission of Step Up Durham and look out for their many events throughout the year.

Our Sponsor:
Johnson Automotive Group is a WRAL TechWire partner and the presenting sponsor of Tech on Tap.

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Bridging Divide. ReCity. Durham, North Carolina


Episode Info

How can America recover from hatred, distrust and resentment that have lead to deep divisions, the fraying of our civic institutions and even violence, such as the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting?

This episode, recorded at ReCity in Durham, North Carolina, is the third in our renewing democracy podcasts, where we report on collaborative efforts to promote respect and bridge divides.

The idea behind this series is that if we’re going to pull back from the political precipice, it’s going to come first locally, not nationally. We’ve seen what hate and fear and can do, perhaps it’s time to try love, or at least tolerance. 

ReCity is a shared office space-- similar to a We Works for dozens of local social action non-profits and companies-- where organizations are housed in an open-plan office under one roof. We look at how their hard work can bring people together and lead to social change. 

"I believe there is hope for our communities, but when you turn on the news right now, you don't find that," says ReCity's Executive Director, Rob Shields. "This is an opportunity to show that hope and unity are possible in a community, and I think right now that's not a message that we are hearing from a lot of the channels we absorb information through."

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