April 28, 2017. The Columbus Dispatch.

More than 2,000 people will flow into the Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fairgrounds on Monday evening for BREAD’s annual Nehemiah Action event. Afterward, Cathy Levine hopes they leave feeling the power they have to accomplish “wonderful things” in the community.

Levine, a committee chairwoman with the interfaith group BREAD — Building Responsibility, Equality And Dignity — and other group officials are hosting the event at 7 p.m. Monday.

“In one sense, it’s a rally … It’s a pretty high-energy event,” Levine said. “The Nehemiah assembly is about building power” and holding public officials accountable.

On the stage, BREAD committee members will present community problems and solutions and then question the public officials in attendance about them.

Among the public officials expected at the event are Stephen McIntosh, administrative judge of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court; Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown and Councilman Michael Stinziano; Columbus School Superintendent Dan Good; and Stephen Myers, associate vice provost at Ohio State University.

Everyone is welcome; most of those attending will be either members of the 40 religious congregations that are a part of BREAD or their guests, Levine said.

The problems BREAD is working on were identified through listening, said Mary Counter, a member of the committee on violence.

One is that children and teens are being set up for failure by the court system and the school system, said James Winn, a member of BREAD’s juvenile-justice steering committee.

“We’re looking to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline that currently exists,” he said.

Other goals to be discussed at the meeting will be: a push for city contracts to be awarded to businesses that hire people with criminal backgrounds; improving jobs and life on the Hilltop and in the Linden neighborhood; instituting One ID Columbus, a municipal identification program; and working with law enforcement, the courts and social-service agencies to encourage young men who are caught up in the court system to stop committing crimes in exchange for social services.

“The community needs proven strategies that will strengthen our communities,” said Noel Williams, BREAD’s chief financial officer.

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