The Obama Administration has appropriately placed a high priority on driving better performance in both the public and nonprofit sectors as they seek to tackle serious social and economic challenges. This includes a heightened emphasis on research, evaluation and funding “programs that work.” All of this is certainly welcome news. Unfortunately, as part of this effort, the Administration has embraced a new idea that I fear could take us in the wrong direction.
A new report by Enterprise Community Partners provides an insightful analysis into the financial challenges facing community developers and offers thoughtful recommendations for how to address them at the organizational and system levels. It should be required reading for all community developers and their supporters.
Throughout my years at MACDC, I have been an active participant in a network of CDC associations from around the country. The network – first convened by the National Congress for Community Economic Development and now by the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) – provides an opportunity to learn about programs and policies in other states that might be applicable in Massachusetts. (It’s also a great place to commiserate with the very small group of people who do the same work we do at MACDC!)
The 2010 midterm elections have certainly made many community developers anxious for our communities and our field—and with good reason. The Republican Party’s agenda of draconian spending cuts has the potential to devastate struggling communities and families across the country. We must resist their agenda as strongly as we can.
That said, there may be a few hidden opportunities in the current climate for community developers to seize. At the risk of being Pollyannaish, here are five opportunities that call out for action:
As the foreclosure crisis grinds on month after month and year after year, it is hard to find any news to feel good about. Even the recent dip in foreclosure petitions in October was probably due more to the confusion and delays caused by the apparent failure of banks and servicers to process foreclosures in a legal manner rather than any real shift in the market.
In 1993, when I was finishing law school I was considering many career options and decided that I wanted to shift from my prior work in the clean energy field and tackle issues of racism and poverty more directly by working in community development. I was making an intentional and significant shift from one field to another. Years later, when I was looking to hire a new MACDC staff person I had several candidates apply for the job who were employed by environmental organizations. I finally asked one why he wanted to make the shift.
Last month I travelled to Indianapolis to attend a meeting of the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development's National Advisory Committee and to tour some of Indianapolis’ hardest hit neighborhoods. It was inspiring to see how local CDCs and CBOs are working together and with LISC and other partners to undertake long term and comprehensive community development initiatives. Indianapolis has had a strong CDC sector for many years, thanks in part to support from LISC, the City, the Eli Lilly Foundation and other supporters.
MACDC hosted its 5th Biannual Convention on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and once again it was an inspiring and exciting event. MACDC began hosting Conventions in 2002, shortly after I became the Executive Director, as a way to bring together the full spectrum of leaders in the CDC field – board members, residents, and professional staff; Nonprofit allies, funders and public officials; long-time leaders and emerging ones; black, brown and white; young and old; urban, rural and
This past week, I had the opportunity to make presentations in Washington, DC and in Boston about the future of the community development field. On September 28 I gave a presentation to the National Coalition for Asian and Pacific Islander Community Development on 21st Century CDCs as part of a Town Hall Forum on the future of Community Development. More than 200 practitioners that serve Asian and Pacific Islander communities across the country engaged in a lively and interesting discussion