- There seems to be an unavoidable tension between community groups and foundations in CCIs, according to a study of six case CCIs, included in a recently completed discussion paper, Foundations and Comprehensive Community Initiatives: The Challenges of Partnership, by Prudence Brown, a Research Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children, and colleague Sunil Garg. These tensions arise from the ambitious nature of CCI goals in relation to the resources foundations are able or willing to devote to these initiatives, the capacity of CCIs to use resources effectively, and the scale of the needs that CCIs inevitably confront in the community.
The report recommends fundamental changes that foundations involved in CCIs should consider, including: 1) how to make an institutional commitment to a CCI, rather than one largely dependent on an individual program officer or program area that may be reorganized out of the foundation over the extended life of the CCI; 2) how to relate effectively with other initiatives in “their” CCI communities; and 3) how to establish honest exchange of information and views and a culture of learning from mistakes, not hiding them or punishing each other for them. The substantial investments required by CCIs on everyone’s part make it imperative to generate lessons that can inform practice now and improve future partnerships.
To request a copy of the paper, write to Chapin Hall at 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637, or call 773-753-5900.
- Three Shelterforce articles dealing with CCIs and related topics are available online: “Community Building: Hope and Caution,” by William Traynor (SF #83, September/October, 1985), “Comprehensive Community Initiatives: Lessons in Neighborhood Transformation,” by Anne C. Kubisch (SF #85, January/February, 1996), and “Getting the Most from Technical Assistance,” by Janice Litwin (SF #76, July/August 1994), or they can be ordered as back issues ($5 each) from Shelterforce, 460 Bloomfield Avenue, Suite 211, Montclair, NJ 07042-3552; 973-509-2888.
- Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood, by Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, documents Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative from the early 1980’s through the mid 1990’s. Available ($16) from Shelterforce, address above.
- Core Issues in Comprehensive Community-Building Initiatives, edited by Rebecca Stone, is a collection of 40 essays written by practitioners in the community building field, on topics ranging from theories of neighborhood change to evaluating comprehensive community initiatives. It’s available for $10 from the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, 1313 E. 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637; 773-753-5900; www.chapin.uchicago.edu
- From Neighborhood To Community: Evidence on the Social Effects of Community Development, by Xavier de Souza Briggs and Elizabeth J. Mueller, examines the social effects of CDCs on urban neighborhoods, focusing on three organizations in Newark, Boston, and Minneapolis. It’s available ($20) from the New School for Social Research, 66 Fifth Ave., Room 812, New York, NY 10011; 212-229-5415.
- Stories of Renewal: Community Building and the Future of Urban America, by Joan Walsh, draws lessons from a series of case studies examining the issues facing comprehensive community building initiatives. Published by the Rockefeller Foundation, it’s available on their web site at www.rockfound.org, or by calling 212-869-8500.
- Evaluations of individual CCIs are useful resources and are available from the foundation sponsors. For evaluations of the Rebuilding Communities Initiative, contact the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 701 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202; 410-547-6600. For evaluations of the Neighbors and Families Initiative contact The Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd St., New York, NY 10017; 212-573-5000. For evaluations of the Comprehensive Community Revitalization Project, contact CCRP, 330 Madison Avenue, 30th Floor, New York, NY 10017-5001; 212-557-2929.
- Comprehensive Community Initiatives: A New Generation of Urban Revitalization Strategies, by Kristina Smock, is a good overview of a number of initiatives and the common strengths and weaknesses of CCIs. It’s available on the COMM-ORG website.
- The Civic Practices Network, at www.cpn.org, is a compilation of case studies of community building initiatives, along with bibliographies, resource listings, and contact information for further investigation.
- The National Community Building Network is an alliance of locally driven urban initiatives working to reduce poverty and create social and economic opportunity through comprehensive community-building strategies. They can be contacted at National Community Building Network., c/o The Urban Strategies Council, 672 13th Street, Oakland, CA 94612; 510-893-2404; www.ncbn.org
- The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families has explored the complexities related to evaluating CCIs and has published a report, Voices from the Field, which details the status of the comprehensive community initiatives from the perspective of active participants in the process. Contact 212-677-5510; www.aspenroundtable.org/voices/