GNV4ALL speaker discusses equity in Gainesville 

Zeriah Folston spoke Wednesday at the GNV4ALL general body meeting.
Zeriah Folston spoke Wednesday at the GNV4ALL general body meeting. (Photo by Taryn Ashby)
Photo by Taryn Ashby

The city of Gainesville’s chief of diversity and inclusion provided the keynote speech at the GNV4ALL’s general body meeting on Wednesday night. 

Zeriah Folston climbed the educational ladder in Gainesville starting in the UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School before graduating from Santa Fe College and UF. 

During his speech, Folston gave an update on the city’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

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“One of the most important, and honestly the hardest, pieces to move the needle for my commissioners and the community will be developing a data governance policy,” Folston said. “The city of Gainesville doesn’t do everyday data well. So, when we set up this new policy, we will be able to see how much money we are spending with females and people of color. It will be a way to hold ourselves accountable.” 

GNV4ALL Executive Director James Lawrence at Wednesday's general body meeting.
Photo by Taryn Ashby GNV4ALL Executive Director James Lawrence at Wednesday’s general body meeting.

He explained the four core strategies—leadership training, citywide training, policy review process, and department partnership model—used by the city of Gainesville’s commissioner’s office to help absorb equity and equality. 

“Equity is going to start embracing within the city of Gainesville with RBA, results-based accountability,” Folston said. “Too often, we allow the emotional strength of an issue to cloud us, but the data will show the facts. We are turning equity into real data to utilize it for community growth.” 

GNV4ALL was formed in 2016 to address racial and economic inequities that hinder the community. 

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners recently awarded GNV4ALL a $350,000 grant to help launch its Gainesville Empowerment Zone Family Center on the campus of Metcalfe Elementary School. The one-time award matched a similar $350,000 commitment the Gainesville City Commission made  

The family center is set to open in June and GNV4ALL Executive Director James Lawrence believes the center can help demonstrate the power of education. 

“We believe we can start to change the flow of how things currently exist in the community,” Lawrence said. “The center can make a huge impact in changing what we see in terms of racial disparities. Over the next year, we are well positioned, and hopefully, we get our name and mission out to the public to let them know that we are doing something different in the community.”   

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RBA – “results” based accountability? Funny, from the rest of the article I was expecting a different “R” word. Gainesville seems to have an undue influence from outside that is pushing the city even further left than it was. How sad.