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Building Tomorrow, Together: Cafe Sankofa's Update on Progress and Vision for Spring 2024

Challenges met resilience, and renewal became our anthem. This statement provides insights into our achievements, partnerships, and upcoming plans, inviting you to be part of our shared vision for Spring 2024 and beyond.

Dear Valued Members of the Cafe Sankofa Community,

Happy New Year! We hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits. As the board of directors of Cafe Sankofa, we wanted to take a moment to share an important update on the status and future of our organization.

Over the past several years, Cafe Sankofa has undergone significant changes and challenges. We had to make the tough decision to temporarily reduce our programming and community work in order to address critical issues related to the ownership and financial stability of our beloved building. We recognize the immense patience and unwavering support you, our community, have shown us during this period, and we are profoundly grateful for it.

We want to express our deep gratitude to our wonderful community for your understanding, patience, and continued belief in our vision. Your support has been an invaluable source of inspiration, and it is your trust that motivates us to carry on the legacy of Cafe Sankofa. We recognize that the last few years have been challenging for many of us, but together, we have proven the strength and resilience of our community and taken seriously our commitment to collective healing.

Brief update in Programming and Partnerships from 2021-2023

We have provided an overview of three important updates related to Cafe Sankofa. These include ownership changes, health and wellness initiatives, and board development. Our aim is to reinforce our commitment to being a reliable health and wellness resource and a welcoming space for Syracuse residents. We hope that this brief update on the current status and direction of Cafe Sankofa will help us achieve this goal.

Over the past three years, we have made significant progress in establishing a working, volunteer run board by recruiting key members in the community. All of our current board members contribute to the community through education, social services, health and wellness & more. Our board members have actively participated in local and national conferences, where they have shared their experiences as members of the Syracuse community and highlighted the importance of providing resources for historically underrepresented communities. Our primary focus as a board has been on officially securing the building [Cafe Sankofa] located at 2323 S. Salina Street, becoming an official 501(c)3 non-profit and successfully transferring the deed in Cafe Sankofa’s name from the former Eat to Live Cooperative. 

Under our current leadership we have continued our long-term partnership with the Food Bank of Central New York, which enables us to offer discounted grocery items at an affordable cost to residents throughout the local Syracuse community and maintain a strong partnership with local community health organizations. To promote fitness and wellness, we have introduced new initiatives such as 'Bodied by Easton', a community fitness boxing class and have continued to welcome educational programming led by Doula 4 a Queen to support reproductive health. 

We have set our sights on improving three key areas of Cafe Sankofa in our relaunch efforts for spring 2024:

1. Improve Infrastructure and Governance: 

We plan to grow the board and offer more detailed opportunities, including upcoming board elections, adding an advisory committee and community gardening volunteers. Additionally, in the next year, we aim to strengthen our board governance by ensuring each member completes non-profit training to support our educational commitment to community empowerment and leadership. 

2. Establish Consistent Culturally Relevant Health and Wellness Programming:

Secondly, we aim to provide consistent access to fresh food and nutrition education for all ages. Our community assessment identified health and nutrition as vital components of overall well-being. By the Spring of 2024, we intend to re-open the cafe area offering coffee, tea smoothies and juices through Soul & Health, a women-led holistic wellness brand. S&H plans to host in-person and virtual food demonstrations and workshops tailored to southside families. Collaboratively, we will offer educational workshops and dialogues related to health, nutrition, and racial justice.

3. Become a Leading Community Health-Oriented Venue: 

Lastly, our long-term goal over the next 3-5 years is to become a leading community health-oriented venue in the Central New York area. We intend to enhance our facilities by upgrading security technology and offering comfortable seating to better accommodate a variety of events, classes, and seminars. By improving access to our facility, we anticipate an increase in rental use for organizations committed to health, wellness, and justice. We aim to enhance the back lot (roughly 1500 square ft.), expand the community garden, and create a shared office space and library with quality audio and video equipment. 

As we move forward, we will be reaching out to you, our community members, to gather input and insights on the types of programs and services you would like to see at Cafe Sankofa. Your voices and ideas will help shape our future and ensure that we remain a place that truly serves your needs.

By addressing these areas, we hope to create a more holistic and supportive environment for our community. With your support and the assistance of several key partners and stakeholders, we have successfully navigated this complex journey and are now in a position to relaunch Cafe Sankofa next Spring 2024 and strengthen our commitment to providing health and wellness programming for Black and Brown residents in Syracuse, New York.

We would also like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Central New York Community Foundation for their unwavering support. The Black Excellence and Equity Grant has been instrumental in helping us overcome the financial obstacles we faced in securing ownership of our building. Their commitment to the betterment of our community is truly commendable, and we look forward to continuing our partnership. 

Furthermore, we want to express our gratitude to the City of Syracuse for their invaluable assistance in ensuring that Cafe Sankofa  retains its place as a beacon of hope and wellness in this vibrant city.

We understand that our absence from the community during this period may have been keenly felt. Please rest assured that we are diligently working on rebuilding and expanding our programming to better meet the needs of our community. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a nurturing space for culture and wellness, a place where Black and Brown residents can come together to learn, grow, and thrive.

In closing, we once again express our heartfelt gratitude for your continued support, and we look forward to a bright and promising future together. Cafe Sankofa is back, and we are excited to embark on this journey of healing, growth, and empowerment with all of you.

Sankofa, which means "Go back and get it," represents our mission to honor our cultural roots and build a brighter future together. We thank you for standing with us during these challenging times, and we look forward to celebrating the joyous moments that lie ahead.

With gratitude and determination,

The Board of Directors

Cafe Sankofa

Syracuse, NY

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