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Neighborhood Movement

Celebrate National Volunteer Week!

April 21-27, 2013 is National Volunteer Week! Celebrate the role of service in your community this week by taking the time to thank a volunteer you know, or by pitching in and trying a new volunteer opportunity yourself. Several organizations are committed to honoring the importance of volunteerism this week through events and action campaigns. Check out Points of Light, the Hands On Network, Independent Sector, and Idealist.org for webinars, awards, information, and connection to volunteer opportunities in your local community.

This week was designated National Volunteer Week in 1974, and the celebration of service has enjoyed consistent, broad, bipartisan support. Donating not just money, but one’s time, skills, and talents, has long been a valued tenant of American civic life. And volunteerism is on the rise. In 2011, volunteering in America reached a 5-year high, with more than 64 million Americans giving more than 8 billion hours of their time, at an estimated value of roughly $171 billion. The Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship maintain VolunteeringInAmerica.gov, an excellent resource on the role of volunteerism nationally.

In addition to helping people and feeling good, volunteering is also a great way to develop new skills, meet people, and forge new connections within your community. Numerous resources such as Idealist.org, VolunteeringInAmerica.gov, and All for Good can connect you and your family to meaningful volunteer opportunities in your community that fit your skills, interest, and availability. Many employers are eager to match employees’ charitable donations, allow volunteering during paid work hours, or organize group service events. This week, take a moment to reflect on the value of volunteerism in your community and maybe even find a volunteer opportunity of your own.

2012 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference Post Event Info

Thank you to all participants, sponsors, and presenters from the 2012 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference.

We truly appreciate you taking time from your important work to join in this movement-building opportunity.

As we committed, we are publishing a few resources here and in other places now in the near future. They are:

1) The roster of conference attendees so that you may follow up with colleagues and organizations who were in attendance. See the document here.

2) We thank those of you who completed the conference evaluation on site, but realize that some of you did not have the chance to complete it before leaving us. No worries, we are providing an on-line opportunity to complete the evaluation. Please do so no later than 8/31/12:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2012UNCA1NRCeval

3) We will post PDF versions of handouts, speaker's notes, and power point presentations utilized in the plenary sessions and workshops at the conference shortly. Check back frequently for these very instructive and valuable materials.

Follow this link to the Flickr photo stream from the conference:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/unca1911/sets/72157630949385598/

Again, thanks for your participation and the ongoing important work you're doing.

Evidence of Change: Exploring Civic Engagement Evaluation

When communicating with policymakers, funders, and the general public, advocates for community revitalization often face significant challenges when attempting to quantify the impact of their civic engagement work. A report from the Building Movement Project (created in partnership with the Alliance for Children and Families and the Ms. Foundation for Women) draws on a range of local experiences to provide methods and tools for measuring the impact of social change work.
The report, entitled "Evidence of Change: Exploring Civic Engagement Evaluation" is available online. We recommend the read, which ties in closely to much of the civic engagement content that will be featured at this week's Neighborhood Revitalization Conference in Washington, DC.

New Los Angeles-Central America Community Revitalization Learning Exchange

Our friends at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Revitalization Workgroup have formed an interesting international partnership focused on neighborhood revitalization. The announcement of the partnership can be found below.

Building Transnational Neighborhoods of Opportunity through the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Framework: Los Angeles-Central America Learning Exchange: Building Safe, Secure and Strong and Resilient Communities in 2012

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Revitalization Workgroup in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Center for the Study of Social Policy, United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA), Education Development Center (EDC), the INCAE Business School, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank and key leaders from Central America (namely Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama) will jointly convene the US-Central America Learning Exchange: Building Safe, Secure and Strong and Resilient Communities in 2012.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place in Honduras in March 2012 in follow-up to President Lobo’s visit to Washington, DC in October 2011 where his delegation expressed interest in more exchanges on prevention programming. This event will be followed by subsequent Learning Exchanges in El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama.

Given the renewed interest in neighborhood revitalization strategies, prevention programming and need for the creation of a “Citizen Security Community of Practice”, USAID is proposing this learning exchange to meet three specific objectives:

  • Explore opportunities to better align individual efforts and knowledge, and ultimately leverage and mobilize greater resources across both the public, private and philanthropic sectors;
  • Lay the foundation for forming and growing an intentional "community of practice" to reduce violence and promote healthy child, family and community development, share viable information and collaborating across sectors to achieve healthier communities;
  • Deepen awareness and spur a new, informed dialogue that focuses on how social determinants and the distribution of money, power and resources can influence and shape the prevalence of violence and health in distressed communities.

These three objectives will also inform The Central American Integration System (SICA) implementation of its seven prevention projects that form part of the regional security strategy.

It will also form part of the UNDP’s coordination of the SICA Group of Friends Prevention Pillar, where USAID, World Bank and IDB are also participating. Moreover a major component of this effort will be to engage more directly with regional private sector actors who have demonstrated an interest in prevention programming and can serve as champions for others in the region to spur more investment in this area.

The Learning Exchange will equally provide a platform to lift up Los Angeles’s efforts around Promise Neighborhoods in building a powerful vehicle to implement integrated services and a structured service delivery framework that supports a comprehensive pipeline of programs for children from birth through college graduation, wrapped in supports for families; creates a neighborhood environment that nurtures healthy development; evaluate outcomes; and supports a culture of success.

Finally the learning exchanges will explore community revitalization approaches in Los Angeles and Central America that address safety and security through a multi-sectoral approach that supports local communities in developing and obtaining the tools they need to support community development through the integration of political, social and economic strategies that revitalize neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and crime into neighborhoods of opportunity.

If you have any questions you can contact Ruben Gonzales, the Center for the Study of Social Policy at rubengnzls@aol.com or (310) 721-4895.

New Bridgespan Report on Community Revitalization Efforts

In late December, Bridgespan released a new report -- Next Generation Community Revitalization: A Work in Progress -- covering lessons learned from 6 different community revitalization efforts: Building Sustainable Communities, Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods, Purpose Built Communities, Strive, and The Integration Initiative.

According to the report summary:

The energy these initiatives—and others around the country—have unleashed is truly exciting. We see grounds for optimism about their potential to outperform their predecessors:

  • They share a bias toward building on “what works”
  • They explicitly embrace key management principles and practices
  • They recognize that lasting change requires a robust civic infrastructure
  • Policy makers in several key federal agencies are playing a new, and markedly different, role
  • There is a strong, if dispersed and incomplete, body of knowledge and experience to draw on

At the same time, there are also significant risks—many structural and addressable—that could cause these efforts to founder and fail:

  • Funding that is largely short-term, fragile, and opaque
  • Leaders who are overstretched, with consistent gaps in organizational capacity and capabilities
  • An uneven commitment to resident engagement
  • Unrealistic expectations about how much can be accomplished how soon
  • Limited access to what works—or shows promise of working—in critical program areas
  • Silo-ed thinking, despite some important shared challenges, as initiatives pursue work and learning agendas separately from one another

Should this generation of efforts fail, today’s positive momentum could quickly become tomorrow’s disillusionment. For this work to take hold and grow, it will need the kind of credibility that comes from genuine success stories. Creating those success stories will require continued tenacity complemented by the management acumen to overcome a set of barriers that are consistent across these six initiatives: gaps in practical knowledge; painfully overstretched management teams; and plans that are insufficient to guide implementation.

Based on what we heard from people doing this work, their advisors and supports, and on what we know about the field’s collective capacity to address those barriers, we believe some of the most useful next steps for maintaining momentum and strengthening the field would be to:

  • Accelerate learning and the acquisition of practical know-how: by providing additional resources to deliver knowledge where tools and frameworks already exist; and by rapidly developing, prototyping and sharing new applied knowledge where definitive answers are not yet known or there may never be one “best” way
  • Build stronger, deeper management teams at initiative sites and at the centers, including investing to develop cohorts of talented leaders
  • Provide ongoing support and incentives for leaders at local sites to develop realistic operating plans that can be both funded and implemented

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by Dr. Radut