Marnita’s Table LITERALLY “brings people to the table” to find solutions. We’ve now brought together over 19,000 people for more than 300 focused conversations around a host of issues that matter to us all:
- Reducing STDs/HIV/AIDS in 13-19 year olds
- Improving educational outcomes for youth in poverty
- Increasing healthcare access in a way that works
- Unleashing economic opportunities for all
Marnita’s Table seeks to close gaps across difference through making Intentional Social Interaction (ISI pronounced izzy) the new pattern for society where people of color, the disenfranchised, the poor, the unheard, the fragile, the GLBTQ, the marginalized are automatically included and valued at the policy-making and resource-sharing table.
Igniting enduring cross-cultural connections through intentional social interaction, Marnita’s Table was founded to break down the barriers of race, class and culture in order to build authentic, positive and productive relationships.
We have created a new model for direct dialogue between the traditionally powerless and the powerful leading to new effective connections in order to deliver socially just systems change. We literally provide everyone a seat at the table for peer-to-peer exchange and collaboration.
It is our goal to help create long-term, sustainable solutions that the entire community is eager to execute, as well as to identify policy changes to address urgent societal needs and increase leadership and economic opportunities for youth and other under-resourced, under-served individuals.
Our model, Intentional Social Interaction, is designed to catalyze enduring relationships between disparate populations and the organizations that serve them. In just three years we have become recognized and respected for our ability to bridge cultural differences and bring people of all ages, ethnicities and background together for the common good. Instead of being a “think tank,” we are a “connect & then do tank.”
Embarking on a bold journey of rapid social integration, we expand our personal, profession and philanthropic networks by welcoming the others into our homes and social lives. Through intent, we cut across traditional boundaries of ethnic, cultural, religious, or sexual identity, as well as educational or socio-economic status, and find common ground – always while breaking bread. By conscious process, we create enduring relationships.
We seek to make the model of Intentional Social Interaction the delicious new pattern for society. That whenever there are multiple interests and concerns that it becomes routine to come to a literal table in good will and identify those things upon which we can agree in order to begin the work that must be done by all of us as a society.
We seek to deliver Improved public policy outcomes. Improved public/private partnerships. More effective use of public and private financial investments. Transformational change as those impacted by polices take their rightful seat at the table to help shape the public policies that impact them.
Marnita’s Table is lead by our human-centered values.
- Hospitality. Making all who come to the table feel uniquely welcomed and included.
- Inclusion. Ensuring that the voices of all stakeholders regardless of age, ethnicity, gender-identification or other means of self-identity or expertise are welcomed into the conversation.
- Yummy. Delicious, tongue-tantalizing food provides the authentic common thread necessary to unleash relationships.
- Practical. We are about getting going on what is happening right now. This isn’t theory. This is systems change at a molecular level. The right kind of talk leads to effective action.
It turns out that when you get people to the Table for great food and conversation it breaks down barriers and allows for exchange around the things on which we can agree. It isn’t just talk – positive action always follows. To date we’ve helped:
- Increase collaboration between agencies resulting in improved outcomes & reduced costs
- Grantors, grantees and the communities they serve build more effective programs
- Inspire youths to improve their grades and go on to college
- Build authentic relationships between the police and the communities they serve
- Improve health outcomes while increasing economic opportunity and cross-cultural competency between health care professionals and the communities they serve
- Employers find & retain employees; and more efficiencies than we can recount
TRANSFORMING INDIVIDUAL LIVES
We hear repeatedly from guests that our Table has the power to transform lives in just three hours. Those traditionally left out of decision-making are able to impact, change and lead public policy through direct, authentic relationship and connection with civic and business leaders. This has huge real life implications. Those in power learn through practice & action how to be inclusive, listen and respond to the needs of the less powerful, while those previously unheard take their rightful seat to shape the future. Years later, participants are still able to recount the transformations that helped solve a problem, reduce isolation or increased knowledge as a result of just one Interaction.
We currently receive voluntary feedback from at least 15% of participants of an Interaction that at least one of these impacts has occurred:
- It is easier to approach and interact socially with someone from another culture or community because they’ve had a successful experience.
- Increased willingness to welcome the “other” into participants’ homes when no such willingness existed.
- Increased cross-cultural collaborations as the Table jumpstarts cross-cultural collaborative efforts that benefit the community.
- Professional participants take enhanced cross-cultural competency back into their organizations, resulting in increased cross-cultural competency and more effective programming at the organizational level.
- Increased leadership capacity and opportunities for women, people of color and youth.