Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CCI Failure

"Despite sinking $4 million in mostly private foundation money into trying to turn around some of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods, Mayor Gavin Newsom's Communities of Opportunity program has largely been a bust, according to a new city audit."

Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross,"S.F.'s $3.9 Million Wasted Opportunity," San Francisco Chronicle, October 20, 2008

Communities of Opportunity (COO) attempted to reproduce the Harlem Children's Zone in a poor and neglected part of San Francisco becoming engulfed by new development. In this sense CCO was part of a set of community interventions called Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCIs). Some experts say that CCIs fail not from a lack of good ideas but because of poor management and implementation. That seems to be the case here. Barack Obama's domestic policy team ought to pay attention because his Poverty Platform commits to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone in 20 places -- Promise Neighborhoods.

The dust needs to clear a bit to judge the failure of COO, which the mayor and S.F. officials deny. "For all the political heat, Dwayne Jones, the mayor's deputy in charge of the program, insisted Friday that both donors and program participants were happy with it." I would like to hear what the foundations have to say.

My own limited observations of COO is that they tried to do too much at once, including public sector system reform and housing redevelopment, without much capacity on the ground and a hurry-up agenda.

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