Friday, May 1, 2015

Investing in Community Change Blog Moves to Center for the Study of Social Policy Blog

The Investing in Community Change blog has moved to a new home. The Center for the Study of Social Policy blog will feature helpful tools and strategies for communities, including workforce development, asset building, community development, organizational capacity and resident engagement, as well as commentary on the field of community change and additional fields in which CSSP works to improve the lives of children and families. View our new events page for upcoming webinars and conferences. Visit to our new blog!

Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Welcomes Applications for Assets for Independence (AFI) Demonstration Program

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Community Services (OCS) welcomes applications for the Assets for Independence (AFI) Demonstration Program. AFI enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement asset building projects serving low-income individuals and their families. The awards of up to $1 million cover a 5 year project period.

AFI grantees enroll participants to save earned income in special-purpose, matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Every dollar that a participant deposits into an AFI IDA is matched (from $1 to $8 in combined federal and non-federal funds) by the AFI project, promoting savings and enabling participants to acquire a lasting asset.

AFI participants use their IDAs and matching funds for one of three allowable assets:
  • Purchase a first home; 
  • Capitalize or expand a business for self-employment; or 
  • Fund post-secondary education or training.
AFI grantees also assist participants in obtaining the skills and information necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Grantees are encouraged to tailor the strategies and services they offer to the needs of their project participants and the opportunities in their community. Examples of activities in this area include financial education, asset-specific training, financial coaching, credit-building services, credit/debt counseling, and assistance with tax credits and tax preparation.

To learn from examples of asset building, register for a special webinar on using AFI for Building Economic Opportunity in Low-Income Neighborhoods on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 2 p.m. ET. Hear from BCJI grantee Northwest New Jersey Community Action Partnership (NORWESCAP) about how asset building contributes to their community building and crime reduction efforts in the Phillipsburg - Parnassus Neighborhood.

The deadline to apply for the AFI Funding Opportunity is June 15, 2015. To view information about resources, trainings, and other assistance for grantees and potential applicants is posted on the AFI Resource Center website.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 Project Provides Equity-Focused Tool, a research project designed by the Brandeis University's Heller School of Social Policy and Management and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, is the first national information system to take a comprehensive, equity-focused approach to monitor progress toward improved well-being for children of all racial and ethnic groups. Indicators examine several domains, including education, housing, health, policy indicators and more with up to seven geographies and multiple time periods.

Users have the ability to:
  • Query the database of child well-being and policy indicators by topic, by geographic area (national, state, county, metropolitan area, city, or school district) and by race/ethnicity;
  • Display the results of data queries through three website functions: customizable area profile reports, area ranking reports, and thematic maps;
  • Explore maps of child-focused opportunity indices for all neighborhoods in each of the 100 largest metropolitan areas and overlay the child population by race/ethnicity on these contextual maps of neighborhood opportunity;
  • Read equity-focused analyses of selected policy and program areas that are relevant to child wellbeing, for example, Head Start, and coming soon, Child Care Subsidies, Family and Medical Leave, and Housing Subsidies.
  • Read and share our infographics, briefs and reports featuring our rigorous data and policy analysis on issues of child wellbeing and equity.
To learn more, visit the website.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Building Neighborhood Capacity Program Releases Formative Assessment Report with Lessons Learned from the Field

The Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) seeks to catalyze community-driven change in neighborhoods that have historically faced barriers to revitalization. A key program of the federal Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, BNCP was launched in 2012 to provide resources and targeted technical assistance to eight neighborhoods in four cities – Flint, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; and Milwaukee, WI.

BNCP focuses on building community capacity: the knowledge, skills, relationships, processes and resources that neighborhood residents, local organizations and city-level partners need to work together to achieve better results. BNCP is funded by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Justice and supported by technical assistance from the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

BNCP’s Federal Management Team and the Center for the Study of Social Policy are excited to release the Formative Assessment report, showcasing findings to contribute to the field’s knowledge about effective strategies for building neighborhood capacity. Written by Prudence Brown and Leila Fiester, the report covers BNCP’s original timeline from January 2012 to April 2014, as well as its six-month extension to October 2014.

Since that time, BNCP has been expanded, providing each city with two years of additional support to expand to a third neighborhood and develop a city-wide strategy to sustain revitalization efforts. The findings from the Formative Assessment are being used to inform and strengthen BNCP’s ongoing work in the initial eight neighborhoods, as well as the BNCP expansion process.

Check out the Formative Assessment on the Building Neighborhood Capacity Resource Center!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Forum for Youth Investment Annual Ready by 21 Meeting

From March 31 - April 2, the Forum for Youth Investment will be hosting its fourth annual Ready by 21 National Meeting. Ready by 21 is a set of strategies developed by the Forum to help communities improve the odds that all children and youth will be ready for success in college, career, and life. This convening will bring together in New Orleans up to 400 leaders from the local, state, and national levels who are committed to developing partnerships, policies, and practices to improve the lives of children and youth.

Sessions will cover a wide range of topics, including:
  • Advancing a Racial & Gender Equity Lens in Collective Impact Efforts
  • Statewide Afterschool Networks: Forging Partnerships and Policies for Afterschool & Summer Learning
  • Tackling Indicator Overload: How a Community Aligned its Dashboard, Mapping & School Systems to Aim for Better Outcomes
  • United We Stand: Building Effective Rural Community Partnerships that Endure
  • Supporting Opportunity Youth in Education Attainment & Workforce Development

For complete details about the agenda and information on how to register, please check out the Forum for Youth Investment's site here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice Launches

The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice formed as a collective working to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. In September 2014,  the Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded a three-year grant to launch this initiative in efforts to advance public and scholarly understandings of these issues and develop interventions.

The initial interventions will be informed by ideas in  five pilot sites across the country. The five sites are Stockton, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Gary, Indiana; Fort Worth, Texas; and Birmingham, Alabama.Each pilot site will develop a detailed site-specific plan that will enhance:
  • Racial reconciliation facilitates frank conversations between minority communities and law enforcement that allow them to address historic tensions, grievances, and misconceptions between them and reset relationships. 
  • Procedural justice focuses on how the characteristics of law enforcement interactions with the public shape the public’s views of the police, their willingness to obey the law, and actual crime rates. 
  • Implicit bias focuses on how largely unconscious psychological processes can shape authorities’ actions and lead to racially disparate outcomes even where actual racism is not present. 
Additionally, the initiative will focus on interventions for victims of domestic violence and other crimes, youth and the LGBTQ community. Following initial research and evaluation of the five sites, the initiative plans to establish a national clearinghouse where information, research and technical assistance are readily accessible for law enforcement, criminal justice practitioners and community leaders.The initiative will be guided by a board of advisors which will include national leaders from law enforcement, academia and faith-based groups, as well as community stakeholders and civil rights advocates. For resources and more information, visit the website.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Promise Neighborhoods Training and Technical Assistance Center

Promise Neighborhoods launched the Promise Neighborhoods Training and Technical Assistance Center, designed for Promise Neighborhoods grantees and any community that is interested in improving the cradle-to-career results for its children. The Promise Neighborhoods theory of change focuses on placing great schools at the center of neighborhood revitalization efforts. When effective family and community supports are combined with strong academic experiences that are targeted at the children and families who need them most, children are prepared for success in college and career and entire communities are strengthened.

The Center provides an overview of the Promise Neighborhoods program and the key components to develop a successful neighborhood. The website features research-based practical information, publications, links to other websites, training materials, data tools, news from grantee sites and other resources developed by the work with grantee sites and TA providers. Here are a few of the features you’ll find on this website:
  • Toolbox – Whether you’re trying to identify promising and effective solutions to make up your cradle-to-career pipeline, or create the conditions that will allow for their successful implementation and broader community change, we’ve got you covered. Check out the Toolbox for resources related to each of the Promise Neighborhood results as well as the conditions necessary to achieve them. You can also access archived presentations and slides from past Promise Neighborhoods webinars.
  • Information on Grantees – Wondering if there’s a Promise Neighborhood near you? Trying to connect with Promise Neighborhoods similar to your own? Visit the Grantees section of the site and use our “Grantee Map” or “Grantee List by State” to learn about work taking place in your region and across the country.
And here are some of the things you can look forward to in the near future:
  • Neighborhood Notes – Every quarter, the Promise Neighborhoods Training and Technical Assistance Center will publish “Neighborhood Notes,” a newsletter highlighting new resources of interest to Promise Neighborhood communities, stories from the field, and announcements related to upcoming events.
  • Blog Posts – Keep an eye out for future blog posts highlighting new and featured resources, as well as original content, such as interviews with and insights from Promise Neighborhoods leaders and partners.
Technical assistance providers includes the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), Urban Institute, Results Leadership Group and Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink. CSSP is contracted by the U.S. Department of Education to provide a range of TA and training to the current cohort of Promise Neighborhoods grantees to help them build the capacity they need to successfully plan and implement their cradle-to-career strategies. In addition to PNI, CSSP partners with Synergy Enterprises Inc. to deliver TA to grantees. Stay tuned for future updates and check out the website here.