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Gate City initiative aims to promote health equity

Union Leader Correspondent

March 16. 2016 9:12PM

NASHUA — A new initiative is underway in the Gate City to encourage cultural diversity, promote social inclusion and boost leadership from different ethnic groups in the community.

One Greater Nashua is collaborating with the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce to create a three-year plan that is geared to improve “health equity” in Nashua and its surrounding communities with various integration efforts.

“We need to find and engage leaders from different pools within Nashua, and start to bridge those pools and learn more about their cultures, and it needs to be a collaborative effort,” said Tracy Hatch, president and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

Although there is a diverse population in Nashua, Hatch said the minority population may not be represented in the city as people who lead important conversations such as elected leaders, business owners, heads of nonprofit organizations and more.

“I think that traditionally, we have not done a great job of outreach into more ethnically diverse communities and neighborhoods — not out of bias, but just because the pathways to leadership are different,” she said.

Nashua is attempting to change that scenario with its new One Greater Nashua effort.

“The face of Nashua is changing with a heightening of cultural and ethnic diversity in the city and the region,” said Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen. “As a proactive approach to future success, the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce has partnered with One Greater Nashua to work to encourage the development of community leaders and entrepreneurs from our diverse population.”

A plan has been created to tackle the issue with a widespread and broad approach.

The four major goals that will be addressed throughout the next three years include: promoting social inclusion and cross-cultural interaction at the middle school level through youth leadership development; community service and family engagement strategies; creating a cultural navigators program that connects newcomers with the skills needed to succeed economically and socially; and expanding opportunities for them to engage in the mainstream community by sharing their skills, talent and ideas; diversifying civic leadership in the chamber’s Leadership Greater Nashua program; using the LGN program to promote culturally effective organization; and establishing an ongoing Nashua Listens forum that will regularly discuss community issues that impact area residents, according to the United Way of Greater Nashua’s website.

“We will be determining exactly how to become inclusive, and reach out to those who may not see themselves as leaders,” explained Hatch.

The newly established plan was made possible through the Endowment for Health, which provided four New Hampshire communities with grants to focus on social integration efforts.

Through the United Way of Greater Nashua, One Greater Nashua was formed to help bring the community together, according to organizers. Although the grant will end in 2018, Hatch said she is optimistic the program will still be able to thrive long after.

The detailed plan and its various goals will be discussed in more detail during a public presentation Monday to the Board of Aldermen. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

Health Nashua