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Registration for 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference is OPEN!

We are pleased to announce that registration for the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference is officially open online. The Conference, co-sponsored this year by the Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building at the Alliance for Children and Families and the Center for the Study of Social Policy, will be held July 24-25 in Washington, DC.
This year’s conference promises to share the latest developments in policy, research, program design, and innovation in the fields of neighborhood building and community development. We are excited to welcome an array of practitioners, thought leaders, policymakers, philanthropists, academics, and more to the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference.
Please visit the conference webpage for more information on the conference and to register. Early bird rates are available, so register soon! The webpage will be updated frequently as we plan the details of the conference. You can also follow news and updates on the conference on Twitter using #NRC14. We hope to see you there!

HUD Lauds Chicago-area Program for Equitable Development

A recent article from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Policy Development and Research division focused on the importance of ensuring equity in communities’ smart growth plans. HUD’s definition of “smart growth,” in this case, included intentional thinking and planning to support “safe, healthy, equitable, and prosperous communities.” Regional collaboration in the Chicago area was specifically cited as a model of intentionally supporting equity in housing development.
The Chicago Regional Housing Choice Initiative (CRHCI) officially launched with the help of HUD in 2011, but has been working as a multi-sector collaborative effort to address affordable housing concerns since 1999. HUD supports the CRCHI pilot in part to demonstrate “if mobility counseling and the regional administration of local PHA resources can give families desirable location outcomes while reducing government costs and administrative burdens.” The Initiative consists of eight area PHAs, the Metropolitan Planning Council, HUD, and a non-profit partner.
These Chicago-area partners were motivated to address affordable housing and equity issues because of the region’s growing imbalance between jobs and affordable housing, and fears that these developments threatened the region’s economic competitiveness. Simply put: people could not find affordable housing on the incomes provided by the area’s fastest growing labor markets. The mismatch of jobs, labor needs, housing, and affordability meant that residents could often not afford to live near their jobs and neighborhoods became increasingly segregated by income.
To begin to address these issues, CRHCI encourages families to use Housing Choice Vouchers to facilitate access to different neighborhoods, spurs the construction of mixed-income housing, and provides mobility counseling to families seeking affordable housing. The pilot project has had successes—345 vouchers provide subsidies in 28 communities, with more than 1,700 apartments either in use or in development. CRCHI also uses data from HUD to map the region using an “opportunity index” which assesses neighborhood quality based on housing stability, job access, and transit access. The information helps CRHCI identify “high-opportunity areas” that may be suitable sites for ongoing affordable housing development.
CRCHI’s success demonstrates that with intentionality and planning, affordable housing development can be equitable and financially shrewd. Ultimately, creating a regional collaborative of partners helped keep housing affordable and convenient for many. Rather than isolating lower-income families, CRCHI’s efforts help to integrate all income levels into smart growth neighborhoods that are beneficial for both community building and regional economic competitiveness.

Alliance Now Accepting Workshop Proposals for 2015 Senior Leadership Conference

The Alliance for Children and Families is accepting workshop proposals for its upcoming 46th annual Senior Leadership Conference, to be held February 21-24, 2015, in Clearwater Beach, Florida. With a leadership development focus, the Senior Leadership Conference is committed to providing exceptional learning, networking, and mentoring experiences that not only strengthen leadership skills, but also promote enduring professional relationships. The Alliance seeks workshop proposals that address current nonprofit issues relating to the Alliance’s Commitments of high-impact nonprofits:

  • Leading with Vision

  • Governing for the Future

  • Executing on Mission

  • Partnering with Purpose

  • Co-Creating with Community

  • Investing in Capacity

  • Measuring that Matters

  • Innovating with Enterprise

  • Engaging All Voices

  • Advancing Equity

The Alliance invites you to share your knowledge, promising practices, and solutions with senior leaders from the nation’s premier nonprofit human service organizations. Workshops are typically 90 minutes and often feature audience interaction and ample time for questions and answers. You can find more information on how to submit a workshop idea by reading the full SLC Call for Proposals. Workshop proposals must be submitted by April 1, 2014. Applicants will be notified by May 19, 2014 if their workshop has been selected for inclusion in the conference.

What Early Childhood Development Means for Strong Neighborhoods

The strength of a community depends on the health and wellbeing of its residents. New scientific research also suggests that the wellbeing of an individual may have a lot to do with his or her community. The latest developments in understanding brain science suggest that 90% of brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, so growing up in a stimulating, supportive, and healthy environment is integral to a child’s success.
A recent op-ed from Susan Dreyfus, President and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families, cites the latest brain science as further evidence of the need for comprehensive early childhood education, such as the universal pre-K proposed by the President. Truly high-quality early education would reach outside of the classroom, to include family-engagement and home visiting. Ms. Dreyfus says, “Without the support of quality early childhood development programs, these children face lifetime deficits in skills and abilities that can have a long-term impact on our communities and our nation's productivity.”
Policies that help children today will help build the neighborhoods of tomorrow. Myriad research suggest the positive impacts that quality early care has on an individual’s educational attainment, lifetime earnings, overall health, involvement with crime, and general livelihood and stability. The data are there that an investment in children now is an investment in our communities for the future.
Just as a child grows up to impact his or her community, fostering a supportive and stable neighborhood environment has a huge impact on a developing child. To further explore the latest science on the interplay of individual development and community development, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Jack Shonkoff will be one of our featured plenary speakers at the upcoming Neighborhood Revitalization Conference. Dr. Shonkoff is a professor, a pediatrician, and the Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. His work examines the role of environment and early child care on brain development, and what it means for future wellbeing.
We look forward to welcoming Dr. Shonkoff, as well as numerous other researchers, academics, practitioners, policymakers, thought leaders, and more at the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference. The Conference will take place July 24-25 in Washington, DC. There’s still time to submit workshop proposals! Keep watching the main Conference website for up-to-date information on registration, speakers, and more.

Upcoming Community Schools Forum Focuses on Strong Schools, Strong Neighborhoods

The following is a guest blog post from Martin Blank and Reuben Jacobson at the Coalition for Community Schools and Institute for Educational Leadership. The Coalition for Community Schools, housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership, is an alliance of national, state and local organizations in education K-16, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks.Their upcoming national forum will take place April 9-11, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Strong neighborhoods require strong schools. Strong schools require strong neighborhoods. That’s what teachers, community members and organizers, nonprofit and higher education leaders, faith-based groups, United Ways, and neighborhood leaders will be talking about at the 2014 Community Schools National Forum in Cincinnati April 9-11.
A community school functions as a unique and essential center of the neighborhood -- a place where the resources of school and community are aligned to support students’ academic and non-academic development. Together with community partners, including human services nonprofits of many kinds, community schools provide academic, physical, social, emotional, and enrichment opportunities and supports to our nation’s vulnerable children; and they strengthen families so that they are better able to support their children’s education.
The theme for this year’s Forum is Community Schools: The Engine of Opportunity. It’s a theme that reflects our commitment to equal opportunity for all students, and the belief that that community schools, with their deep and sustained partnerships between schools and community organizations and institutions, are the “engine” that will prepare our young people to succeed. This Forum comes at a key moment in time. There is a growing conversation about the importance of student engagement in learning, and the influence of out-of-school factors, including poverty, on student achievement. Community schools and their partners work in both areas knowing that there is no “silver bullet,” no one program, that can accomplish the work we need to increase opportunity, decrease inequity and help young people succeed.
The conference is being held in Cincinnati because of their successful Community Learning Centers initiative that has recently been featured on NBC’s Education Nation, Marketplace, and The New York Times. This district-wide community school strategy (community schools are called ‘community learning centers’ in Cincinnati), represents a unique and sustained partnership between the school district, school board, teachers union, and more than 400 community partner organizations. Cincinnati is demonstrating how partnerships can help schools fulfill their core academic mission while offering students the opportunities and supports they need and deserve to thrive.
The Forum will cover a variety of topics such as community organizing and community schools, the relationship between community schools and other place-based initiatives (including Promise Neighborhoods and Cradle-to-Career); engaging learning; expanded learning; and family community and engagement.
In addition to engaging site visits and workshops, the Forum will include presentations from: Christopher Edley, Co-Chair of the Commission on Excellence and Equity; Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the California Senate Education Committee; Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra; Rev. William Barber, Chair North Carolina NAACP; Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President, Annie E. Casey Foundation; Hedy Chang, Director, Attendance Works; Michael McAfee, Director, Promise Neighborhoods Institute; Dianne Piche, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Joseph Bishop, National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; and Ira Harkavy, Director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the Forum and to register, please go to www.communityschools.org.


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by Dr. Radut