$15 Million for Brownfields Redevelopment Fund

February 18th, 2014 by John Fitterer

Last week, the Massachusetts Legislature voted to allocate $15 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund in the Commonwealth’s Supplemental Budget.

“The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is a vital resource for communities across Massachusetts as residents seek to clean up polluted sites in their neighborhoods and transform them into places where people can live, work and play,” commented MACDC’s President Joe Kriesberg. “$15 million is a strong start toward fully recapitalizing the Fund. We look forward to working with the legislature over the coming months to secure additional funding to keep cleaning up the Commonwealth.”

The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is designed to support the cleanup of vacant or underutilized properties where environmental contamination prevents development or reuse, by providing both interest-free financing for environmental assessments and flexible loans for the environmental cleanup. Since the Fund was created by the Legislature in 1998, it has made 630 individual awards, totaling over $78 million. Over the past five years alone, the Fund supported the creation of 2,551 homes, 2,242 construction jobs, and an additional 2,191 jobs, expected to be created by fund borrowers. The fund was fully depleted in June, 2013.

As of April 2013, MassDevelopment had 26 projects that will receive funding only if the Fund is recapitalized. MACDC and its allies seek a total of $60 million to fully recapitalize the fund, even if it takes more than one year to achieve this level.

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CDC’s Across the State Awarded Working City Challenge Grants

February 13th, 2014 by Jackie Giordano

A cross-section of leaders convened at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 to celebrate the Working Cities Challenge, a community development initiative for Massachusetts' smaller cities with a twofold goal:

  1. To advance collaborative leadership in Massachusetts' smaller cities;
  2. To support ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in those cities.

From the 20 applicants, six cities won a total of $1.8 million to support projects that adopted a cross-sector and systems-changing approach to human and economic development. The winning cities were Salem, Somerville, Chelsea, Fitchburg, Lawrence and Holyoke. At the center of five of the six winning applicants were Community Development Corporations, each taking the lead on community engagement within their city's neighborhoods.

"We are pleased to see CDCs participating in these coalitions as we believe this sort of cross-sector, collaborative work represents the future of community development," commented Joe Kriesberg, MACDC's President. "The fact that CDCs are playing a prominent role in five of these cities is not a coincidence, but rather evidence of the vital role that CDCs play in comprehensive community development."

Community development corporations involved in winning Working Cities Challenge Grant teams include: Lawrence Community Works (Lawrence), Twin Cities CDC (Fitchburg), The Neighborhood Developers (Chelsea), North Shore CDC (Salem) and Somerville Community Corporation (Somerville).

The City of Lawrence was awarded $700,000 over three-years for its plan to change the way its school system interfaces with the larger community by focusing on the direct correlation between a family's economic and employment challenges, and student success rates.

"LCW is delighted by this recognition of the positive changes afoot in the City of Lawrence," said Jessica Andors, Executive Director of Lawrence CommunityWorks. "We are excited to work together with the schools, and our outstanding nonprofit and employer partners, to address the direct connection between families' economic challenges and student success. This will be a true team effort and we feel that as a community development corporation, we have a vital role to play in bringing parent voices and institutional partners to the same table."

The City of Fitchburg, along with Twin Cities CDC, was awarded $400,000 over three-years for its eCarenomics Initiative, an effort to develop shared metrics for neighborhood health and well-being with the goal of making the North of Main neighborhood a place where residents can thrive.

Marc Dohnan, Executive Director of Twin Cities CDC remarked, "We are thrilled to be recognized by the Boston Fed. We are fortunate to have a great partner at the City, wonderful leadership from Mayor Wong and lots of hard work and effort from many organizations, but in particular the Montachusett Opportunity Council, which is serving as the backbone agency for the initiative. This could not have happened without the work of so many residents of the North of Main Neighborhoods, who have worked so hard to make their neighborhood a better place to live, work and invest."

Chelsea and The Neighborhood Developers received $225,000 over three-years for their Shurtleff-Bellingham Initiative, designed to engage public, private, and nonprofit sectors in an effort to reduce poverty and mobility rates by 30% in this struggling neighborhood.

The City of Somerville, along with Somerville Community Corporation, was awarded $100,000 in a seed award toward their proposal to reduce unemployment among low-income youth by creating new, youth-targeted workforce development systems infused with mobile technology and social media.

The City of Salem and their lead partner, North Shore CDC, was awarded $100,000 in a seed award for their plan to bring one low-income neighborhood's economic indicators in line with rest of the city by focusing on four issue areas: economic development, small business development, workforce development, and leadership development.

"We are grateful for the support of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Working Cities Challenge Grant funders. This support will enable our team to implement the Point Neighborhood Vision & Action Plan, a community-driven plan poised to bring major economic development and opportunity to Salem," said Mickey Northcutt, CEO of North Shore CDC.

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Teens to Help City of Boston Spend A Million Dollars

February 11th, 2014 by Ira Schlosser

Two teens from Viet-AID's High School Peer Leadership Program will have a very exciting, real-life experience in civic engagement this spring, helping the City of Boston make decisions on how to spend real money.  In creating the last budget of his 20 years in office, Mayor Thomas Menino set aside $1 million for capital projects to be allocated entirely by youths.  The City has signed an agreement with a non-profit organization called the Participatory Budgeting Project to help launch the Youth Participatory Budgeting Process.  According to the City of Boston's statement, starting in January and running to July, youth from all parts of Boston will come together as a steering committee to "identify projects to improve their communities, vet those projects, consider trade-offs, and vote on how to spend the $1 million." Last fall, the City posted an open invitation to all young residents, youth groups and other organizations to apply for membership on the Steering Committee.  Viet-AID was very fortunate to have two members of the Youth Program selected to this committee. As peer leaders of Viet-AID's Leadership Alliance (VALA), Tony Nguyen, a junior year at John D. O'Bryant High School, and Vicky Nguyen (no relation to Tony), a sophomore at the same school will serve as youth representatives on the steering committee. "This is a very exciting opportunity for the young people personally, and for Viet-AID as well," said Carro Hua, who is the Youth Leadership Coordinator and Americorps Massachusetts Promise fellow. "Tony and Vicky will gain a hands-on civic experience along with their other peers as they will also participate in the general participatory budgeting process and as the process unfolds, we will have the opportunity to witness the important impact to our neighborhoods led by young people." As of this writing, the Youth Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee will have had its first meeting, launching this groundbreaking program. When the program concludes later this year, decisions will have been made on a million dollars worth of tangible improvements in the City of Boston.  We at Viet-AID are so pleased to know that our young people will have played a part in developing those plans.

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