And the Winners are...
Neighborhood Spotlight has several projects lined up for 2015.
The organization recently announced that two Northwest Indiana communities to be the recipients of generous grants. Gary-Miller and Hobart-West Side will both receive up to $50,000 next year to devote toward their vision of revitalization. Additionally, both communities will receive aid from the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development to help build consensus among community leaders, develop specific strategies for using their grants, and attract businesses to the area by establishing strong relationships with business owners.
Legacy is also working in conjunction with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on the Knight Cities Challenge. The Knight Foundation provides grants to 26 different cities across the nation, one of which is Gary. But unique to the challenge is the fact that any resident can submit a proposal for the grant. Proposals from anyone will be considered so long as they meet three criteria: Attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.
“The Knight Foundation is looking for innovative ideas to transform communities,” Kelly Anoe, Director of Grants & Partnerships of the Legacy Foundation, said. “These proposals can be submitted by anybody: universities, government, non-profits, activists, hackers, or just regular citizens.”
The deadline to submit proposals for Gary is November 14. Finalist will be announced before the year’s end, and the proposal will be chosen and the grant awarded in 2015.
How it all started [This section previously published]
Investing in a business means taking a risk for personal reward. When investing in a whole community, opportunity impacts a much greater number of people.
To the Legacy Foundation, that kind of return on investment is worth taking on Lake County and its residents. In their eyes, rebuilding local communities effectively takes collaboration among the people living in it as well as investments to be made.
“Legacy Foundation is expanding its grant-making capacity into creating a strong sense of place in communities across Lake County, IN. Our traditional funding approach allows us to make individual grants to single organizations working on a specific mission-related objective. Those Legacy investments have created and will continue to have positive outcomes,” commented Tina Ronger, Interim Vice President of the Legacy Foundation.
That is where the Neighborhood Spotlight program comes in.
She continued by adding, “However, our goal with Neighborhood Spotlight is different. Legacy will scale-up and co-invest with a range of public, private and non-profit partners in place-making for transformational results. The before and after images of neighborhoods will speak for themselves and each of us will have played a part in making community change happen.”
Generating a Plan for the Future
Neighborhood Spotlight is the foundation’s signature initiative for community building. Under this grassroots approach, investors not only invest in local businesses, but in the whole community and its people.
Collaboration is fundamental for achieving collective impact. Civic leaders, community members, business owners, residents and development partners set out a plan, and work together every step of the way. Key decisions on project undertakings and the use of funding resources are aligned to the community plan. Prioritized action steps mutually reinforce fulfilling the various needs within a neighborhood. Investors ultimately invest in the overall community plan, rather than individual businesses, and their return on investment is measured by the successes of implementation.
From Plan to Action
Such a plan for collective impact seems like it can easily become tangled and result in all those involved tripping over each other, so to speak, or sit on a shelf.
However, Neighborhood Spotlight has a solid framework that prevents that from happening.
First, a combination of formal and informal leaders in concert with engaged residents and investors find a common vision and work out a specific agenda for the group efforts. Community-based organizations serve as the anchor the community change process by facilitating the stakeholders around the common agenda. All projects and programs are meant to mutually reinforce each other, not conflict with one another. Continuous communication among all involved brings a level of transparency and accountability in reaching specific goals and sharing real dollars and in-kind support.
“Collective impact is another way of saying we are in this together and committing over a long haul. We know that authentic community change will not happen overnight. Building trust and reconnecting people will take time,” said Ronger.
Neighborhood Spotlight will aid one or two communities each year in seeking information and funding options for such revitalization. But under this model, residents lead the charge. So, in choosing its grantees, Legacy Foundation looks for communities with distressed neighborhoods and clear needs, often with strong capacity for collaborating and community building led by a local non-profit organization.
Tina had these sentiments regarding the project, “Legacy is creating this unique model and supportive space for people to work together over the next 3-5 years. By doing so, investors can be more certain about the intended outcomes of community plans. Neighborhood Spotlight can be the catalyst for community development in your neighborhood.”
There are three essential steps for a community to be considered for Neighborhood Spotlight, however. The first is to fill out the Commitment to Change form, on the foundation’s website. The second is to attend the three required training sessions. And the third is to complete the Letter of Interest, which is required by September 1.
The final training session is June 23rd, 9:00 a.m. – 12 Noon at the Radisson Star Plaza in Merrillville.
To register and for more information visit their website at: www.LegacyFDN.org