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Investing in Community: Lessons and Implications of the Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program

"The most important lessons CCRP raises speak to the nature, not the science, of comprehensive revitalization. Even before the final evaluations are complete and the record of its accomplishments can be weighed, it has contributed a useful set of underlying principles that deserve discussion and debate. These principles represent modifications, new combinations, and some rejections of the traditional human service and community development perspectives we laid out in opening this paper. They venture answers to the big question, What will it take to achieve comprehensive revitalization?

"First, innovative programs in themselves will not turn around distressed neighborhoods. The centerpiece of revitalization must be strong local organizations – with enough staying power, planning, learning, and management capacity to run programs well and, indeed, to choose programs wisely in the first place. This dedication to organizational capacity, in turn, implies a new investment strategy, where the funder has to work in close partnership with the organizations it supports.

"Second, coordination and planning won't revitalize distressed communities without equal measures of networking and implementation. What seems obvious – do, don't just plan – is not easy to accomplish. More time is spent at the drawing board in many communities than in delivering on the visions developed there. CCRP's role in helping local organizations network speaks again to its respect for organizational capacity and autonomy: the CDCs seek out partners and develop projects and programs according to their own needs. They action is local and entrepreneurial.

"Third, democracy won't revitalize distressed communities – unless it's built on a strong foundation of resident engagment. The challenge is not to engage a few policy-inclined residents or leaders, no matter how effective they are, in deliberative or political processes. The special challenge of revitalization is to strengthen and sustain an array of community associations and institutions."

Text above from the report's conclusion. Download the full report.

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Posted in Comprehensive Community Development: An Intro

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