Thursday, August 2, 2012

Building Neighborhood Capacity!

Public policy that aims to create better coordinated and comprehensive approaches to address community needs can both take advantage of community strengths and reduce program redundancy.  In an economic climate that requires stretching fewer resources to meet increased need – these approaches are ever-more important.  On the national level there are several policy initiatives that are aiming to create neighborhoods of opportunity through more comprehensive place-based programs.   One such effort is the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program.
The Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) is designed to help low-income neighborhoods build the infrastructure and resources needed to ensure families living within these communities experience better results around education, employment, safety, housing, and other key areas. The BNCP was established in 2011 as a part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). The BNCP is unique in that it is focused on helping communities build and further their infrastructure to be in a better position to create coordinated community approaches.  The communities that have been  chosen for this program have historically faced barriers to revitalization, such as distressed neighborhoods that may not be well-connected with institutions such as universities and hospitals, are far from economic vitality, experience high rates of crime, and may have experienced racial or class segregation that severely limits opportunities.
The goal of the BNCP is to help neighborhoods develop knowledge, skills, relationships, and organizational resources that enable residents, civic leaders, the public and private sectors and local organizations to create comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans. The BNCP mobilizes and empowers communities to achieve what they want for their children, families, and residents through jobs and economic success, affordable housing, good education, strong families, safe neighborhoods, and health.
The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is collaborating with the Departments of Justice, Education and Housing and Urban Development to provide technical assistance for the BNCP. CSSP will offer training to help the BNCP neighborhoods develop and begin to pursue results-driven revitalization plans. CSSP is in collaboration with the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change, the Institute for Community Peace, Living Cities, and the National League of Cities.
The Communities that have been selected for the BNCP were announced today and are: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Flint, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; and Fresno, California. For more information on the selection read our Investing in Community Change post.
It is critical for policy solutions to address issues in coordinated and comprehensive ways because that is the way that best meets the needs of families and communities.  BNCP is an example of a national effort to help communities develop the infrastructure needed to begin doing work in more coordinated ways.  State policymakers could consider similar efforts for communities in their state.  To learn more about the BNCP visit CSSP’s resource page on Building Neighborhood Capacity.  To learn more about comprehensive state policy strategies for addressing issues that impact families visit

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