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Upcoming Symposium Offers Practical Tools to Foster Community Transformation

NeighborWorks is offering a special symposium, Real World Solutions for Community Transformation, as part of their upcoming Training Institute taking place December 9-13 in Kansas City. The NeighborWorks Training Institute will offer courses on topics such as green development and sustainability, community stabilization and foreclosure, and increasing financial capability. Career enhancement opportunities and degree credits are also offered for several courses. The Training Institute will also include site visits to neighborhoods in and around Kansas City to learn from “community development in action.”
 
The symposium on Real World Solutions for Community Transformation will take place in a special day-long session on December 11. The symposium will join community development professionals “to explore promising models of community change.” Particular focus will be given to creating and fostering a collective vision of community change among disparate, cross-sector community stakeholders—education, housing, public safety, health care, and more. Practitioners and experts will share real-life examples from around the country of leveraging collaboration to achieve “large-scale impact.”
 
Complete information on the schedule, speakers, events, and more is available online. Pre-event registration ends November 18, and discounts and scholarships are available for those who qualify. We urge you to check out this great opportunity to learn more about neighborhood revitalization in practice!

Super Bowl Contributes to Lasting Community Change on Indianapolis’s Near Eastside

Note: The following was written by Megan Fetter, Community Builder at UNCA member agency the John H. Boner Community Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Below she describes how the Near Eastside neighborhood came together to organize a vision for their community, and leveraged an investment from Super Bowl XLVI to help make their vision a reality.
 
A Place to Call Home
In the heart of Indianapolis, roughly 30,000 residents call the Near Eastside neighborhoods home.  Within the Near Eastside, 21 organized neighborhoods meet through neighborhood associations, block clubs, religious services, and other events. A strong spirit of community exists because of a sense of history combined with a dedication to community development. It is also a community that faced the highest rates of home foreclosure, even before the economic downturn.  The Near Eastside communities have faced challenges and struggles, but are organizing for a better future. 
 
Neighborhood Visioning
In June 2007, the neighborhood came together for a Visioning Summit. Just one meeting drew 530 neighbors for 4.5 hours of neighborhood visioning. That adds up to 2,385 hours, the equivalent of $43,717 in volunteer time in the state of Indiana! That doesn’t include the countless hours put in to planning and organizing for the meeting, or the tens of thousands of volunteer hours put in after the meeting was finished.
 
In 2008, the neighborhood completed the Near Eastside Quality of Life Plan, a comprehensive work plan for creating change in our neighborhoods, convened by the John H. Boner Community Center and with the coordination of the Indianapolis Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). With the overarching goal that neighborhood residents create, initiate, and implement a plan to call their own, the Near Eastside Quality of Life Plan does just that: creates a blueprint for an improved quality of life for all.
 
Full Throttle - An Investment in our Neighborhood
After the neighborhood and its partners began to invest in and work on this plan, LISC called the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee to recommend the Near Eastside as the Legacy Project.  Through careful consideration, the host committee chose the Near Eastside because of the capacity and vision we have for our neighborhood.  Neighbors joined host committee members to oversee the work.  Neighbors and partners leveraged the $1 million gift from the Super Bowl into an investment in the community of $155 million. 
 
The project included housing for older adults, mixed-use housing developments, housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, a homeownership incubator, energy upgrades, a new co-op grocery store, a revitalized health and dental center, a beautiful gateway to the neighborhood, public safety projects, and a new health, wellness, and fitness facility.  
 
Utilizing Community Partnerships
The Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center, opened shortly after the Super Bowl in 2012, is a youth and recreation center located on the historic Arsenal Technical High School Campus in the heart of the neighborhood.  The main idea behind the building is one of partnerships: roughly 20 different organizations collaborate with staff to bring free arts, music, sports, cooking, leadership and various classes to children and the community.  During 2012, more than 800 community meetings were held within the Center and 1,500 students were served through after-school programming.

 
Also located in the facility is The Fitness Zone—a full workout facility, comprised of membership representing a demographic snapshot of the community. Roughly 45% of members earn an annual income of $20,000 or less, half of membership is Caucasian and half minority, and 30% are older adults. 
 
While the John H. Boner Community Center was a partner in the work that happened in the neighborhood, we take a backseat to the neighbors.  They are the ones who get up early on Saturday mornings, stay late on Tuesday nights, and volunteer all of their spare time to create change in their communities.  This is their story.
WATCH the video.

Branding Causes, Not Organizations

Note: This post was written in partnership with Jeremy Smith, Director of New Business Development at Incite.  For over a decade, Incite has been creating results-oriented cause and social impact marketing campaigns. Incite specializes in developing and implementing strategic marketing campaigns that use the power of entertainment to reach and engage mainstream and targeted audiences around the country.
 
What makes the difference between a successful non-profit organization and an unsuccessful one? It often depends on who you ask.  What about the difference between those that thrive and those forced to close up shop? Staff, resources, funding, strategy, and other essentials often come to mind, but one very important factor is often overlooked: branding. Not just the branding of an organization and its programming; but the branding of the cause it serves through proactive marketing efforts.
 
As success for the non-profit human services sector shifts from being defined by finances and overhead to being defined by outcomes and results, it is imperative for human service agencies to organize their activities in a clear, concise, and mobilizing way. Branding a cause, rather than an organization, creates a movement for change galvanized by a vision and a goal for the community.
 
Learning how to brand your cause can be difficult. Where do you start? What are your goals? Who are you trying to reach? Who are your potential partners? How much should be invested in accomplishing your mission, and how much should be spent proactively marketing your cause and engaging stakeholders? To begin to answer some of these questions, the Alliance for Children & Families will host a webinar in partnership with cause marketing firm Incite on Wednesday, November 13 at 3 p.m. ET: “Meaningful and Uncommon Cause Marketing.” This introduction to cause marketing will cover topics such as fostering mutually beneficial relationships with for-profit companies, types of cause marketing campaigns, identifying your audience, setting goals, and more. The webinar is FREE for Alliance and UNCA member organizations! Register now.  
 
We are pleased to announce that this will be the first in a series of webinars and case studies as part of the Alliance’s Disruptive Forces in Action project, funded with the generous support of the Consuelo Foundation. Continue to look for resources and information in the coming months related to bringing to life each of the six disruptive forces identified in the Alliance report Disruptive Forces: Driving a Human Services Revolution!

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Community Non-Profits and Upcoming Webinar Demonstrate the Benefits of Intergenerational Programs

Intergenerational programs. What comes to mind when you see this? Perhaps this term has always been a bit unclear, or perhaps, it’s work that’s deeply entrenched in your organization or agency. But why is there all this talk about intergenerational programs? And how does this approach help strengthen individuals and communities?
 
Intergenerational programs are a highly effective form of community engagement, in which people from multiple generations collaborate to address issues in their community. Intergenerational programs celebrate the richness of each generation, and leverage that to build connections in the community between individuals and organizations that serve aging populations, youth, adults, and children. Intergenerational approaches are being adopted by organizations across the country to foster youth development, connect and care for seniors’ well-being, and preserve the rich historical legacy in vibrant communities.
 
In Minneapolis, Pillsbury United Communities’ Oak Park Center and The Family Partnerships have successfully developed a mentorship program for older adults (55+) and young adults (18-25), who together are doing civic engagement projects in their community. Projects include digital literacy, poetry and spoken word, and music collaboration. This initiative not only serves the larger community, but also the participating individuals. By uniting disparate age groups through a shared positive experience (the civic engagement project) and discussions of past injustice (such as racism), intergenerational programs build common ground and meaningful relationships.
 
Julie Brauninger, Associate Director of Development at Pillsbury United Communities states, “The job of every generation is to discover the strengths and flaws of the one that came before it, that’s part of growing up. Life is about making choices vs. taking chances. Decisions determine gains or losses and ultimately define whether a person is successful or fails. As an Intergenerational Mentoring group our goal was to empower each other and capitalize on each other’s strengths.”
 
Similarly, at-risk LGBT youth transitioning into adulthood and LGBT seniors have connected through a mentorship initiative facilitated by Family Service Madison in Madison, Wisconsin. Older adults provide support and familial-like bonds to LGBT youth who are often disconnected from their biological families. This intergenerational initiative and others like it plant the seeds for lifelong civic and resident engagement for stronger communities.
 
Research suggests that intergenerational approaches produce benefits for all involved. Programs boost social capital and improve health for elderly participants, improve educational outcomes for children, increase the resiliency of at-risk youth, and improve attitudes toward other generations. Some research has even been done on intergenerational programs’ potential impacts on alleviating dementia.
 
The rise in popularity of intergenerational approaches has been accompanied by increased funding opportunities. Several federal grant opportunities specifically call out the need for intergenerational program development. Additionally, several foundations and philanthropic organizations have focused on intergenerational programs, including the Eisner Foundation, the Kiwanis, and the Intergenerational Center at Temple University.
 
There are many excellent resources available to learn more about this work. Register now for a free webinar about intergenerational programs and retention on September 12th, facilitated by Andrea Taylor at Temple University and hosted by the Alliance for Children & Families and UNCA.  Another intergenerational webinar will be offered in October about success stories. Other great resources include Temple University’s Intergenerational Center website, the Alliance for Children and Families National Conference.

Educare DC Revamps Early Childhood Education

The following post was written by Monica Bandy, summer intern for the Alliance for Children and Families and United Neighborhood Centers of America's Public Policy Office. She is a graduate student and a former Head Start teacher, who has been closely monitoring proposed early childhood education reform this summer.
 
The Alliance and UNCA public policy office had the chance to visit Educare D.C. this week, a partner of UNCA member organization, DCPNI. The Educare model has received wide acclaim for its blending of public and private funding, and for its record of successful student outcomes beyond third grade. Educare D.C. offers early learning opportunities for eligible children ages 6 weeks to 5 years in D.C. Wards 5,7, and 8. According to an Educare implementation study conducted at Educare Chicago, 74% of students who attended Educare met or exceeded state standards in math, and 67% met or exceeded state standards in reading at grade 3, higher rates than students who did not attend Educare.
 
Educare D.C. has a beautiful facility with lots of natural light and outdoor space for children to learn, play, and grow. It is a full day, full year preschool, with low student to staff ratios. The minimum amount of experience required to be a teacher aide at Educare D.C. is 5 years, with an emphasis placed on employment longevity. Educare D.C. hires experienced teachers who will stay with the program to provide “continuity of care” in which teachers progress from classroom to classroom with their students. Children have the same teacher from ages 0-3 and from ages 3-5. Each classroom has a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree, and there are several master teachers on site, who have master’s degrees in early childhood education. Several support staff ranging from an eligibility specialist to mental health consultants are on site to serve children and their families.
 
Educare D.C. is also strategically placed within the community, next to Thomas Elementary School. The strategic placement ensures that it is accessible to families in the community. Additionally, the strategic location helps parents and children prepare for the transition to Elementary school. Pre-school is a child’s first encounter with school, but it is also a parent’s first brush with the school system in the parental role. Educare D.C. keeps this in mind and offers resources to parents so that they can become the best possible advocates for their child. Home visiting is also done on a monthly basis. Parents have access to computers to search for employment and housing, as well as a family engagement specialist who can help parents navigate the Educare system, and facilitate positive relationships between parents and teachers.
 
Educare D.C. is a unique public/private model that highlights the importance of the first 5 years on a child’s growth and development, and provides quality comprehensive early childhood education to an underserved neighborhood. Early signs indicate models such as Educare, with strategic neighborhood placement, parent engagement, teacher supports, and classroom continuity, may go far in closing the achievement gap among lower-income students. Educare empowers neighborhoods to build on the biggest strength of any community-its children.

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by Dr. Radut