Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creating Strategic and Accountable Partnerships in Your Promise Neighborhood

Please join the Center for the Study of Social Policy, from 12:30pm – 1:30pm (EDT) on Wednesday, December 3 for a webinar focusing on building strategic and accountable partnerships in your Promise Neighborhood. Participants will hear about the importance of creating partnerships that align with the Promise Neighborhood results as well as examples of how those partnerships can be built or strengthened. The webinar will help leaders who are planning or beginning to implement a Promise Neighborhood or similar community change effort in understanding key considerations to make when developing partnerships. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their insights.

Key questions to be addressed include: 

·         What does it mean for a partnership to be “strategic and accountable”?
·         How can you help partners to buy into the Promise Neighborhoods vision and results?
·         What might a process to begin engaging partners in a results-based way look like?

The scheduled presenters for this event include:

·         Beth Leeson, Senior Associate, Center for the Study of Social Policy
·         Caitlin Wolf, Director of Communications, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood
·         Mary Ellen Reilly, Director of Family-Centered Community Change, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood

For complete details, including registration information, please visit here.

This event, hosted by the Center for the Study of Social Policy with support from the U.S. Department of Education, is part of the training and technical assistance program designed for Promise Neighborhood grantees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Strengthening Communities with Neighborhood Data

Neighborhood data expands the ability of communities to make transformational changes in communities. While communities have been collecting data for decades, local government began automating these records in the 1990’s, enabling agencies to track data over time.

Urban Institute released a book, “Strengthening Communities with Neighborhood Data,” that documents how government and nonprofit institutions have used information about neighborhood conditions to change the way we think about community and local governance in America. Map manipulation through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology has allowed cities to deepen their knowledge about communities. As cities share data cities across agencies, cities will be able to tell a more comprehensive story, past to present, around the interplay of different social factors and resources in communities.

The book outlines several examples of cities that have used data to affect larger change. Cleveland is an example of a city ahead of its time in launching an open data system in the 1980’s. They have been able to rely on institutions that could work flexibly and collaboratively with a variety of government agencies. Realizing the focus in neighborhoods was not adequate, they centered on the property level, creating a parcel level data platform to allow all groups to track properties. Austin collected data on the body mass index (BMI) of a population and mapped the inequities in the quality and proximity of grocery stores, health clinics, recreation centers, and other services for the purpose of connecting population with quality resources. Portland developed a regional equity analysis to inform smart growth policies in the region. The city framed access to green space as an equity issue. Chicago used GIS to map publicly available data on predatory lending. The data map resulted in a policy agenda that effectively addressed predatory lending in Chicago. These examples demonstrate how layering multiple data together provides a new lens for analysis to address the various factors necessary to improve a community.

While cities can call upon major institutions to collect data, it is important to engage the community to collect data in their neighborhoods. This approach involves training individuals to build community trust and develop community engagement and political skills. Structurally, this approach also ensures that communities build a community knowledge capacity to track data from year to year even when local governance changes.

In order to sustain data collection and analysis effort, cities have been able to operate with local funding and use government funding to leverage support. The data collection field is currently surveying the funding base to project future needs.

As data continues to be a critical source of information to guide community change action, Urban Institute and others in the field are developing tools and approaches for neighborhoods to track and use data. National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) is a collaboration of the Urban Institute and local partners in 35 cities to further the development and use of neighborhood-level information systems for community building and local decision-making. To find out if you are a neighborhood partner,visit the website.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Youth Service America and Sodexo Foundation Believe Youth Can Combat Hunger in Communities

Youth have the power to make a positive difference in their communities. Giving youth the opportunity to contribute to change is not only valuable for strengthening youth character development, but also important for strengthening youth ties to community. One in five children in America are at risk of hunger. Youth Service America (YSA) and the Sodexo Foundation have partnered to invite youth to join the fight to end childhood hunger. They are tapping into youth creativity to design and lead community service projects that bring young people, families, Sodexo employees, and other community members to address childhood hunger.

Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants will select 100 of the best ideas and provide $400 grants to put their projects to action. Young people between the ages of 5 and 25 in the United States are eligible to apply. Projects will take place on or around Global Youth Service Day, April 17-19, 2015.

The YSA website provides resources on locating food banks and data on childhood hunger, ideas to get youth started, and complete program guidelines. Applications are due by 12:00 AM on January 15, 2015.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Offers Fourth Round of Technical Assistance to Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program put a call out for its fourth round of Request for Letters of Interest (RFLI) to communities in need of tools to help them attain their development goals, improve quality of life in your community and become more economically and environmentally sustainable. Planners, community leaders, staff from utilities, state and local government, and municipal planning organizations and others interested are welcome to apply to receive technical assistance.

Each technical assistance project in a community will involve a team of EPA-led experts and will include:
  • Public engagement through a one- to two-day workshop.
  • Direct consultation with relevant decision-makers.
  • A memo outlining specific steps the community could take to implement the ideas generated during the workshop.
Technical assistance will be delivered by EPA staff and EPA-hired consultant teams.

How to apply:
EPA requests a letter of interest from each community that would like to receive assistance. The letter of interest should contain the following information and must be no longer than two (2) pages.
  • Identify the ONE tool for which you are seeking assistance. Select one (1) of the five (5) tools described on pages 5-9. If you would like to apply for multiple tools, you must submit a letter for each tool.
  • Describe the nature of the smart growth or sustainable communities-related challenge(s) facing your community, including any relevant data to demonstrate the challenge. If applicable, describe how this challenge affects low-income, minority, tribal, and/or other communities facing disproportionate environmental or health risks. 
  • Explain the relevance of the selected tool to the challenge(s), being as specific as possible
Letters of interest are due by November 20, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. For more information, visit the website.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Funding Available for Housing Agencies through HUD's Job Plus Pilot Program

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s office of Public and Indian Housing has released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Public Housing Agencies to develop place-based approaches to improve employment outcomes for public housing residents. Called the Jobs Plus Program, it will fund Public Housing Agencies to use work readiness preparation, employer linkages, job placement, educational advancement technology skills, and financial literacy training. HUD expects to award 8 grantees with grants of up to $3 million to implement the Jobs Plus Program in their communities.

The NOFA identifies a number of principles that will guide grantees in the program:
  • Examination of labor market data in their local communities to identify industries and jobs where there are the most opportunities for residents 
  • Creating career pathways for residents through work-based training and education 
  • Support learning with employers through on-the-job training, internships and other work experience 
  • Actively break down barriers to access to job training 
  • Establish key partnerships between local housing authorities, residents, Workforce Investment Boards, local businesses and other key community stakeholders 
Using these principles, the program will implement employment-related services such as job readiness workshops, job search and placement assistance and post-job placement retention support and coaching. It will also provide financial incentives, including the Job Plus Earned Income Disregard (JPEID) which is a rent incentive for residents in the program. It will also include robust programming around community support for resident employment by building leaderships, resident participation and empowerment and relationship building between the residents and others related to economic development in the community.

To find out more about the program and whether you are eligible to apply, you can access both the grant opportunity and the NOFA online. Applications are due on December 17, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Black Rock Arts Foundation Grants Announced

The Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) is accepting Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) for the 2014-2015 grant cycle.

BRAF funds highly interactive, community-driven and collaborative works of art that are accessible to the public. Since 2002, BRAF grants have been used to pioneer public art that builds community and empowers individuals. For example, the Community Arts Program at Hospitality House in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district received a 2014 BRAF grant to support its fine arts studio, which provides over 1,800 low-income and homeless individuals with access to an open art studio and professional art instruction through a variety of workshops. Art created through the Community Arts Program has helped to shape the community’s identity and create a sense of culture and community among residents.

BRAF grants can be applied toward the creation of  artwork or to the development of community programs or organizations that support the creation of interactive artworks.

Check out Black Rock Arts Foundation to learn more about the LOI submission form. LOIs are due December 1, 2014. Applicants will be notified by early January 2015 whether or not they are invited to submit a full proposal. Eligible applicants include individuals, groups, and established 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Anchor Institution Task Force Annual Conference

The Anchor Institution Task Force (AITF) is a collaborative dedicated to helping communities and anchor institutions - such as universities and hospitals - advance community-institution partnerships that can spark economic and community development efforts. AITF is holding its annual conference November 17-18 in Chicago.

Led by the University of Pennsylvania, AITF’s work is driven by the recognition that strong communities depend on the alignment of resources and policies across institutions, civic government, local organizations and private resources, such as business and philanthropy. With members across the country, AITF functions as a think tank, providing resources and developing strategies that can help communities develop partnerships with anchor institutions.

Engaging government and philanthropy, the Task Force is enhancing anchor institution practices by:
  • Bringing together scholars, university presidents and other leaders in higher education, and practitioners;
  • Increasing cooperation and alignment among government, anchor institutions, businesses, schools, community organizations and philanthropy;
  • Developing strategies to promote interagency government collaboration;
  • Providing tools for anchor institutions to enhance their societal missions, address local needs, as well as strengthen democratic, mutually beneficial partnerships between institutions of higher education, schools, and community based organizations;
  • Providing tools for anchor institutions to help students develop as democratic citizens who are lifelong contributors to communities and the nation’s well-being;
  • Complementing philanthropic strategies to support and strengthen vulnerable communities. 

According to AITF, for example, AITF provided guidance to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on how it can increase its impact and strategically leverage anchor institutions - particularly higher education and medical institutions - to improve communities and help solve urban problems.

Building on its work with government and philanthropy, AITF's annual convening will feature several representatives from universities, foundations and the federal government. Check out AITF to learn more about the Task Force and how you can register for the annual conference.