Research and experience shows that families do better when they live in strong and supportive communities. In short, place matters. Yet many communities face challenges of high poverty, unemployment, failing schools, and housing instability. These outcomes are influenced by unequal access to opportunity and decades of disinvestment in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. An equitable approach to ensuring that all neighborhoods become the kinds of places that enable all children and families to succeed and thrive requires intentional efforts to build, sustain and operationalize certain types of community capacity.
This capacity is a combination of knowledge, skills, relationships, interactions and organizational resources that enable residents, civic leaders, the public and private sectors and local organizations to transform neighborhoods into places of opportunity. Based on our experience working with communities, we believe the following types of capacity are essential for successful and sustainable neighborhood transformation:
Increasingly, funders and federal officials are focusing their investments on place-based efforts to improve outcomes for families. CSSP assists with the design of place-based initiatives and provides TA in several key areas based on lessons learned from our past work, including the management of the Technical Assistance Resource Center to support the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections Initiative. In a “co-learning” partnership with several communities that are committed to this work, we learn and disseminate information and tools about what makes a difference at the neighborhood level. This learning informs systems reform and public policy agendas to better support community efforts to improve the well-being of families and dismantle the structures that perpetuate disparities in outcomes and opportunities.
We are currently involved in supporting several place based efforts:
This new guide builds on CSSP's six learning guides for building community capacity. It provides tools, resources and success stories from around the country to help communities make real changes.