As part of its budget proposal for the coming 2012 federal fiscal year, the Obama administration has put forward a new $20 million initiative called Neighborhood Revitalization Grants. The program would provide 4-7 grants worth $3-5 million each to high need neighborhoods.
According to budget documents, the grants would:
(1) fill key gaps that would otherwise hamper revitalization;
(2) build organizational capacity for data utilization and evidence-based planning; and
(3) leverage and target large and flexible funding sources from Federal agencies, as well as State, local, and private dollars.
The proposal is included in the HUD budget and would require congressional approval before it becomes law. The grants would be funded with $5 million each from four federal agencies: HUD and the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services. The grants would likely not become available until some time in 2012.
According to a senior HUD official, the purpose of the grants is "to improve the performance of our neighborhood revitalization activities across all the agencies that are part of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. How we propose to do that is by collectively, as one Neighborhood Revitalization team, issuing Neighborhood Revitalization Grants."
According to the senior HUD official:
The intention behind these grants is to more effectively support the existing efforts that are ongoing around the country, many of them led by some of your organizations and other cities and nonprofits who are involved in this work. We really tried to listen to the field over the last few years and hear where the gaps are in the support that is available for effective organizations engaged in neighborhood revitalization.
We heard two primary gaps. First, we heard that there is a lack of flexible funding that can fill key gaps and adapt to changing conditions on the ground over time.
Secondly, we heard that there is a lack of available support for developing the organizational capacity to utilize data effectively, to collect it effectively, to analyze it effectively, and particularly to integrate data systems across agencies, across data sets, and develop analytic capacities to to use that data to effectively promote performance within the organization and to use it in predictive ways to target interventions.
The grants would go to "organizations in high need neighborhoods, who are involved in existing, highly effective neighborhood revitalization initiatives, to fill key gaps in their funding with flexible funding and to build organizational capacity for data utilization."
"What we would be looking for in these grants are organizations that are already proven to be effective in their work (high capacity organizations) and also effective at targeting and leveraging existing flexible funding sources. We know that in many communities around the country there are block grants -- federal, state and local -- and other funding sources. We want to make sure we are targeting this support to organizations in communities that are effectively leveraging those funds toward neighborhood revitalization activities they are involved in."