#096 Nov/Dec 1997

Comprehensive Community Initiatives: Selected Initiatives

Neighborhood Partners Initiative The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s Neighborhood Partners Initiative supports community building and neighborhood stabilization projects in one- to five-block neighborhoods in New York City’s South Bronx and […]

Neighborhood Partners Initiative

    • The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s Neighborhood Partners Initiative supports community building and neighborhood stabilization projects in one- to five-block neighborhoods in New York City’s South Bronx and Central Harlem. The initiative provides funding and technical assistance to a community-based lead organization in each target area. This helps groups plan, coordinate, and implement a strategy focused on improving low-income housing, increasing employment, increasing resident participation in revitalization efforts, and improving residents’ “quality of life.” The program began in 1996 with initial grants of $200,000 to each of five neighborhoods.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
Neighborhood Partners Initiative
250 Park Ave., Ste. 900
New York, NY 10177

Neighborhood Preservation Initiative

    • Pew Charitable Trust launched the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative in 1994 with an investment of $6.6 million, selecting nine community foundations in cities around the country to lead a three-year project to promote the growth and stability of diverse urban neighborhoods threatened by deterioration and decline. Neighborhood-based organizations, which received technical assistance and training as well as funding, worked with residents to devise local preservation plans. Through partnerships with public and private institutions, these groups are working to improve the physical condition, safety, economies, and youth development opportunities in their communities.
        Pew Charitable Trust
        Neighborhood Preservation Initiative
        20 Grand Ave.
        New Haven, CT 06513


The Atlanta Project

    • A program of former president Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center, The Atlanta Project began in 1991 to help Atlanta’s communities gain access to the resources they need to address the breakdown of families and communities and solve their most pressing problems. Twenty neighborhoods in metropolitan Atlanta are part of the initiative, which boasts a five-year operating budget of about $20 million in funds and approximately $12.8 million in in-kind contributions. Through partnerships among the government, nonprofit, and business communities, and by relying heavily on many volunteers, residents are working to improve social and economic conditions in their communities by tackling issues like unemployment, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy.

The Atlanta Project
Georgia State University

Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program

    • The Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program (CCRP), one of the first CCIs, was launched in 1992 in New York City’s South Bronx. Begun by the Surdna foundation as a demonstration of a bottom-up community revitalization project, CCRP sought to prove that communities with comprehensive, resident-drafted plans were in a better position to leverage funds and implement those plans.

The initiative selected six well-established community development corporations (CDCs) that already controlled millions of dollars of affordable housing in the area. Seeking to broaden these groups’ agendas by providing them with resources to add human service development to their missions, CCRP provided staff, funding, technical assistance, seed money, and evaluation to the groups as they devised and worked to implement holistic, integrated “Quality-of-Life Physical Plans” for their neighborhood.

Recognizing the dire needs in the South Bronx, which served as an international example of the worst kind of urban decay when the initiative started, CCRP employed an “action/planning” strategy to address some of the neighborhoods’ most obvious and critical problems, even as each community was still developing its plan. The initiative can claim among its successes new jobs, a number of economic development ventures, several new primary health care facilities, a beacon school-which converted a local school building into a community center with a wide range of services available after school and on weekends-and the transformation of numerous vacant lots into playgrounds, gardens, and parks. Professional planners from private firms, along with public agencies in New York City, provided technical assistance.

The initiative has grown substantially since its inception, receiving additional funding totaling more than $6 million from nearly 20 local and national foundations and corporations, and leveraging another $35 million from other sources. CCRP has gained national recognition and won awards for its innovative methods of community-based planning.

Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program
330 Madison Ave., 30th Floor
New York, NY 10017-5001

Neighborhood and Family Initiative

    • A comprehensive, community-based demonstration project to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods, the Ford Foundation’s Neighborhood and Family Initiative was launched in 1990. NFI’s strategy is to focus on citizen participation and institutional collaboration, while emphasizing the links between a neighborhood’s economic, social, and physical needs and development.

Ford selected community foundations in four cities – Memphis, Hartford, Detroit, and Milwaukee – to lead the process of choosing target neighborhoods and forming collaborative boards to govern and carry out the community planning and development process. In this way, each local site grew a new organization to lead the initiative, with representation from a range of local players.

According to participants, NFI has proceeded in an extremely flexible manner, allowing each site to progress at its own rate and in its own way. While the Ford Foundation issued a “charge” at the outset of the initiative – that sites address issues of poverty, address issues comprehensively, develop leadership within the communities, and create a collaborative, consensus building process – the sites have had the freedom to interpret and even re-draft that charge and base their actions upon the local context and needs.

Yet, while the sites are not bound to address specific issues, they are charged with addressing overall themes of family development, community development, and economic development as they intersect at the neighborhood level. Further, participating groups as well as the foundation emphasize developing the links between internal and external “partners” from the public sector, local businesses and institutions, and residents, with the greatest amount of control placed in the hands of residents.

Along with providing funding – each site began with $125,000 planning grants, $1 million for the first three years, and have since received variable funding – the foundation participates by providing technical assistance to the sites. the Center for Community Change coordinated this assistance during the initiative’s early phases.

The Ford Foundation
Neighborhood and Family Initiative
320 East 43rd St.
New York, NY 10017

Community Building In Partnership

    • In 1990 the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore was suffering from the same decay inner city neighborhoods around the country were facing. Poverty and unemployment were rampant, infrastructure was crumbling, and crime and chronic illness touched nearly everyone in the neighborhood.

That same year, a collaborative was formed among Sandtown-Winchester residents, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, and the Enterprise Foundation. The partnership committed itself to transforming the neighborhood and its broken systems through a collaborative process focused on the interrelatedness of neighborhood problems and solutions. Like other CCIs, the Sandtown-Winchester collaborative aims to build the capacity of neighborhood institutions and individuals to address problems and implement solutions. By 1994, Community Building in Partnership, a new community-based organization, had incorporated to implement the plans of the collaborative. The Enterprise Foundation raised $4.9 million in seed money for the initiative, which was expected to leverage $40 million in public and private dollars in its initial years.

The goals are lofty, but by redirecting funds from foundations and the private and public sectors, the Sandtown-Winchester initiative has seen progress. At the project’s outset, the neighborhood had a 22 percent unemployment rate, and one quarter of the households had annual incomes below $5,000. The collaborative is working to halve both of these numbers by designing and implementing an employment initiative, addressing skills training, placement, follow-up support, and self-employment assistance. Where vacant lots and substandard housing units predominated the neighborhood, over 300 new units have been developed, and close to another 600 are in progress, thanks to a partnership between private developers and community groups. Where crime was rising steadily, violent crime in the first half of 1997 was down 20 percent from the same period in 1996, thanks in no small part to more than 100 block clubs organized to fight crime. Efforts launched to address issues of education, health care, human services, and commercial development cite similar progress.

The initiative’s central objective, to encourage resident participation in neighborhood development, also appears to have advanced. Where the neighborhood had virtually no resident participation in revitalization efforts just a few years ago, community meetings today draw hundreds of people. Thousands are involved in regular community celebrations, youth leagues, and other events, close to 30 community organizations have taken root, and a monthly neighborhood newspaper helps link members of the community together.

Community Building in Partnership, Inc.
Sandtown-Winchester Community Center
1114 N. Mount St.
Baltimore, MD 21217


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