While the Tea Party’s manufactured crisis over the debt ceiling sucks up all the oxygen in Washington, the White House quietly released an important new report in July entitled Building Neighborhoods of Opportunity that outlines best practices in neighborhood revitalization around the country. The report highlights the work of CDCs, community based groups, schools and local governments and discusses how the federal government could more effectively support such efforts.
In recent years there has been a growing discussion about the coming generational change in the leadership of the community development field. As the founders of our field move toward retirement, a new generation of community developers are eager to make their own mark on the field. Of course, this transition is not without challenges as some fear it is happening too fast without sufficient preparation, and others are frustrated that it is happening too slowly as they are forced to wait and wait for their turn.
I just read an excellent article by Ann Houston from Chelsea Neighborhood Developers (CND) and Hilary Marcus from Neighborworks America. The article talks about the difficult, yet ultimately productive, process that the CND board of directors went through in deciding whether and how to expand their services to Revere. The article offers important lessons for all CDCs considering a geographic expansion or any other major shift in their organizational strategy or focus.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post ran a series of articles alleging widespread failures in the federal HOME program administered by HUD and hundreds of local and state government agencies. The articles claim that hundreds of projects have died, millions of dollars have been wasted and that HUD and local housing agencies have failed to protect the taxpayer's money.
The Community Development Innovation Forum has helped to spur numerous efforts to expand and deepen collaboration with the goal of improving effectiveness and efficiency in the sector. With the help of new funding from Citi and Bank of America, MACDC is now leading a major planning effort to explore the efficacy and viability of a statewide partnership among CDCs and others who provide technical assistance to local entrepreneurs.
Collaboration has become such a popular word in our field that one wonders at times whether it has lost its meaning and importance. Has collaboration become a cliché? Is it a passing fad? Has it been oversold?
I would have to say, from what I am seeing in Massachusetts and around the country, that the answer is an emphatic no!
The first meeting I ever attended on behalf of MACDC – way back in 1993 – was at the Bowdoin Street Community Health Center. The purpose of the meeting was to strategize ways to reduce childhood lead poisoning by building a coalition of community development, housing, environmental and public health advocates to fight for changes in policy and practice that would better protect our children.
Performance and accountability are the subject of substantial discussion these days throughout the nonprofit sector. Government agencies, private funders and non-profit leaders themselves are increasingly focused on taking steps to ensure that we fund programs "that work" and stop funding those "that don't". Last week, I wrote about Social Impact Bonds, a new approach for doing this about which I have serious concerns.
My 15-year old son is required to declaim a speech or poem each term as part of his English course at his high school. This requires memorizing the text and reciting it with clarity and conviction. Last week, he declaimed one of President Roosevelt’s famous speeches - the Man in the Arena speech delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April, 23 1910.
One wonderful passage in the speech reads as follows: