Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Organizing for Results

"(C)omprehensive community development can't be the work of one organization: it must be the work of several...Remember the old adage...'Many hands make the work possible.'"

Jim Capraro, Can Successful Community Development Be Anything But Comprehensive, Shelterforce #172 WINTER '12/'13: 35-38.

I'm coming late to this terrific issue of Shelterforce, Time to Rethink CDCs? Capraro's article is incredibly refreshing. Community Development Corporations (CDCs) need to think comprehensively (beyond housing or economic development), but don't necessarily need to be in the lead. Of course, this calculation differs across organizations and neighborhoods -- the point is to be thoughtful and explicit. Another challenge not mentioned, however, is that working comprehensively may produce a diverse array of poorly designed and implemented investments. The community development world has to think harder about focus, results, and evidence, yet this may run up against the aspirations of being comprehensive and working in coalitions.  The promise of "collective impact" or "aligned contributions" approaches is to grapple with the challenge of getting communities behind the most powerful interventions. Increasingly, many communities and community developers are turning to two-generation approaches that organize "cradle to career" pathways for kids and families. It gets comprehensive, don't worry, but there is a north star of results.

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