Essays on People, Place & Purpose

Investing in What Works for America's Communities

Community Organizations are Key to Moving Individuals and Neighborhoods out of Poverty

by Admin

Eighteen months ago, Change Capital Fund (CCF) initiated a four-year, $5 million investment in five New York City nonprofits and community-based organizations that it believes are best able to reach local residents who are disconnected from the city’s affluence and opportunity and can coordinate housing, education, jobs programs and other services to increase economic mobility. Launched by some of the nation’s leading funders, CCF is funding organizations with strong community ties and core competencies in areas most likely to move people up the economic ladder.

Each of the five funded organizations have a roadmap and business plan based on their own neighborhood’s and residents’ needs–and each is championing the idea that performance management systems and data are critical to demonstrating their successes. Several organizations are using CCF funding and technical assistance to develop systems to link their data tracking across multiple programs and hire staff to lead internal evaluation.

They are: Community Solutions/Brownsville Partnership, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Fifth Avenue Committee (working in partnership with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Red Hook Initiative and South West Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation), New Settlement Apartments, and St. Nicks Alliance.

Each is taking on silo-busting efforts, such as intentionally combining and coordinating services for entire households, including multiple generations—an important strategy because of the demonstrated relationship between parental and child outcomes.

And according to MDRC, which is evaluating CCF, the project’s emphasis on data-driven practice has helped spark efforts to build databases that allow a more comprehensive portrait of organization-wide efforts across programs and track individuals and households across programs to better serve them.

According to MDRC, the CCF initiative holds promise because of its structure and focus:

  • CCF’s large collaborative of 16 donors has a wide array of expertise and a deep history of work within New York neighborhoods, which may help to avert conflict between grantees and funders about program expectations — a well-documented challenge in place-based programs.
  • CCF has a longer-term vision of progress for New York’s community organizations and is helping demonstrate for the community development field how to move toward sustainable business models and take advantage of emerging revenue streams.
  • CCF blends capacity building with benchmarks based on outcomes by providing extensive technical assistance and funding for groups.

Billions of dollars of brick and mortar revitalization has transformed neighborhoods across New York City, like Harlem, the South Bronx, and Central Brooklyn, but there is still much work to be done. Many of those same neighborhoods still face concentrated and persistent poverty, as well as rising crime, high unemployment, and dilapidated housing. The community organizations that were behind their successful development remain uniquely positioned to build more avenues to opportunity for residents and their communities.

You can read more about CCF here and learn more about the progress the initiative made in its first year here.

By Eileen Auld, NY Tri State Market Director of Citi Community Development

One Comment

  1. Elizabeth L Pugh Reply

    Looks promising! One question, what are some of the “benchmarks based on outcomes.” Such a difficult area to measure.

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Investing in What Works for America’s Communities is a joint project of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund.

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