Friday, May 17, 2013

First Annual Report of Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative Released

Last month, the White House released the first annual report of Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) – an initiative launched in 2011 aimed at building local-federal partnerships to stimulate economic revitalization and investment in our nation’s most distressed communities. Recognizing that federal support is most effective when aligned with the unique challenges of individual communities and regions, SC2 deploys a team of federal employees to work closely with each city. SC2’s overall goals are to improve the relationship between local and federal governments, provide coordination and support across federal programs, assist in planning and implementing a plan for economic growth, build local government capacity and encourage regional collaboration. The main components of the SC2 program, as well as the list of the seven pilot cities, can be found here.

The report details the capacity-building efforts and successes of the past year. According to the report, SC2 has helped the pilot cities more effectively utilize $345 million in existing federal funding. In addition, SC2 has sparked the development of 130 cross-sector partnerships aimed at aligning resources to target the most pressing needs of the seven cities. Some of the other achievements outlined in the report include: the establishment of a data-driven Diagnostic Center in Youngstown aimed at improving public safety with help from the U.S. Department of Justice; implementation of improved transportation plans in Detroit and Fresno; and, collaboration between local and federal governments resulting in financial support for small businesses in New Orleans and Cleveland.

Through their work on the ground in these pilot cities, SC2 teams are continuing to learn about best practices and policy innovations that can inform federal policy and practice. For example, SC2 teams recognize that employer needs must be matched with worker skill sets, requiring collaboration between public education, post-secondary education, job training programs, and local employers. In Cleveland, a collaboration between the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, the Cleveland/Cuyahoga Workforce Investment Board, and local K-12 educators has resulted in a SC2-facilitated initiative providing over 1,000 students the opportunity to access comprehensive career information and job training.

Over the next year, SC2 will expand its policy work in the following ways:
  • Provide technical assistance to Promise Zones – a new initiative mentioned in the President’s FY2014 Budget that will provide resources for 20 of the nation’s most distressed communities; 
  • Invite a second round of economically distressed communities to apply to receive a SC2 team in late 2013; 
  • Build the SC2 National Resource Network to provide short-term technical assistance to other high-need communities, disseminate best practices, and establish local resource networks and public-private partnerships; 
  • Transition SC2 Fellows into new roles in each city; and 
  • Strengthen federal partnerships with philanthropy and continue to identify regulatory obstacles as well as policy innovations and best practices. 

SC2’s work on the ground in these communities has already resulted in helpful resources and will continue to provide guidance in economic and community development for high-need cities. To learn more about the accomplishments of the seven pilot cities, click here.

For more information on SC2, click here for our blog post about the White House Council on SC2.

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