McGee Foundation & City Partner to Create West Side Plan

The McGee Foundation, a charity based in Charleston, has committed $250,000  for the creation of a master plan to improve the lives of all people living and working on the West Side of Charleston.  The donation was made in late 2020 to The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation to fund the work for the City of Charleston.  The idea originated from foundation board member and Charleston resident, Steve Kawash. Through conversations with community groups and the City, the board realized that while there are many plans to improve the West Side, there aren’t any that cover the whole of the West Side and the broad-range of issues that residents are concerned about; from housing, to jobs, social services to food access, and everything in between. 

“We wanted to demonstrate our commitment to helping solve the issues that the community identifies by setting aside funds for planning effort,” said Steve Kawash, “We know that many of the challenges on the West Side didn’t happen overnight and we want to be a partner for the next 10-15 years to help make life better for residents and increase the vitality of the neighborhood.”

The Foundation hopes that an opportunity for deep conversations could help build consensus around what the community wants for itself.  With that information in hand, tangible changes can be made to improve the lives of people.  Through an equitable community development and investment model, the Foundation wants to utilize this new plan to make its own investments in community needs and work to attract other funding to the same mission.

“We are so grateful for the McGee Foundation’s commitment to the West Side,” said Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, “I firmly believe that when you meet people where they are and ask them what they are struggling with, you are going to learn so much more.  This planning effort will be about listening and learning from the community. Then we can build on our efforts by putting those ideas into action.”

With authorization from City Council this evening, the work will begin this summer.