Organizations collaborate to assess Lincoln's strengths and chal - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Organizations collaborate to assess Lincoln's strengths and challenges

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By: Lauren Fabrizi

Some of Lincoln's largest public and private organizations have collaborated to assess the capital city's strengths and challenges.

A new study conducted by the Public Policy Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reports the poverty level in the city has gone up nearly 50 percent since 2005, with the economic recession partly to blame.

Mayor Chris Beutler said that needs to change.

"We have a problem. We don't say it's somebody else's, we don't ignore it," Beutler said. "We form alliances and groups, and we get together and we figure out how to solve it."

And that's exactly what the community is doing. A new coalition called Lincoln Vital Signs was unveiled Thursday. Nearly 400 people from 13 organizations filled the Cornhusker Marriott.

The coalition aims to not only identify what Lincoln is doing well, but more importantly, take action to fix the challenges that face the capital city.

"You learn the most from experiments or examples where you've fallen behind," Wendy Birdsall of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce said.

The study highlights some of Lincoln's many strengths, including low crime rates, low unemployment rates and high graduation rates.

What's most disturbing, though, according to the mayor, is that more than 12,000 children throughout Lincoln are part of families living in poverty.

Organizers said the coalition aims to fix this by growing jobs throughout the city.

Although it's only in the beginning stages, Mayor Beutler said identifying the problem is a good step in the right direction.

"I know looking out at those faces that those people will follow through," Beutler said.

"This is a great community, we are Lincoln," Barbara Bartle of the Lincoln Community Foundation said. "We can make those numbers change."

The mayor wants to encourage any organizations to come forward and get involved.

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