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Sandtown-Winchester Neighborhood Transformation Initiative – Lessons Learned

The first 10 years of the Sandtown-Winchester Neighborhood Transformation (NT) Initiative tell a story of great achievement and equally great struggle.

The partners faced many surprises and tensions as they pursued their goals for social change. The decisions they made—especially involving the difficult trade-offs they negotiated—offer valuable lessons for all comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs). This review explores the early strategies, issues, and implications that shaped these lessons.

NT was one of the first attempts to systematically bring together diverse strands of thinking about comprehensive community change. It began in 1990 with developer James Rouse’s idea that it was possible to overcome the conditions that undermine impoverished communities.

With help from then-Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, residents, and The Enterprise Foundation, NT’s partners focused this vision for change on eight key areas: physical development, economic development, health, education, family support, substance abuse, crime and safety, and community pride and spirit.

NT was driven by several core components, including a comprehensive vision for ending poverty; a strategy that simultaneously addressed social, economic, and physical conditions; partnerships that linked the public and private sectors; a commitment to building capacity and ownership within individuals and the community; and efforts to leverage public will and investment—both financial and political—on behalf of social change.

Each partner in NT—the mayor, the residents, and The Enterprise Foundation—was expected to invest in the initiative. The city would provide resources and support from its agencies. The foundation would facilitate the process by bringing together stakeholders, raising funds, and providing management and technical support. Community members were expected to identify goals, bring internal resources to bear on key priorities, and lead local change efforts.

Text above from the introduction. Download the full report.

The report was published by The Enterprise Foundation with support and funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Posted in Comprehensive Community Development: An Intro

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