Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks by wuyunqing

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									Lessons Learned
 in Starting and
     Operating a
  Neighborhood
Networks Center

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
            Office of Multifamily Housing Programs
                   www.NeighborhoodNetworks.org
                                 (888) 312–2743
  Lessons Learned in Starting and
Operating a Neighborhood Networks
              Center
This publication was developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist in
the planning and development of Neighborhood Networks centers.

The guides in this series offer “how to” information on starting a center, creating programs and
identifying center partners, marketing and media outreach, sustainability, funding, and much more.

Neighborhood Networks is a community-based initiative established by HUD in 1995. Since then, more
than 1,000 centers have opened throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
These community-learning centers provide residents of HUD insured and assisted properties with
programs, activities, and training promoting economic self-sufficiency.

This guide was printed in 2004.

To receive copies of this publication or any others in the series, contact:

                U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
                Neighborhood Networks
                2277 Research Boulevard, 5J
                Rockville, MD 20850

                Neighborhood Networks Information Center
                Toll-free: (888) 312–2743
                E-mail: mail@NeighborhoodNetworks.org
                TTY: (800) 483–2209

All publications are available from the Neighborhood Networks Web site at
www.NeighborhoodNetworks.org.




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ii
                                               Table of Contents

Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center..................................1
   Introduction ...............................................................................................................................................1
   How This Guide Is Organized...................................................................................................................1

Ten Qualities of Successful Neighborhood Networks Centers ...............................................................3

Neighborhood Networks Center Profiles..................................................................................................5
   Wheatland Community Learning Center: Dallas, Texas ..........................................................................5
   Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Technology Center: Seattle, WA..................................................10
   Communities On Line, Inc. Orchard Mews: Baltimore, MD..................................................................13
   The Baltimore Urban League Community Technology Program ...........................................................15

Neighborhood Revitalization: A Bigger Picture ....................................................................................19
   The City of Chattanooga, Tennessee ......................................................................................................19
   Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: Washington, DC .................................................................21

Resources ...................................................................................................................................................25
   Contact Information for Neighborhood Networks Centers.....................................................................25

Neighborhood Networks Information.....................................................................................................33




                                                                                                                                                            iii
iv
  Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating
      a Neighborhood Networks Center
Introduction                                         Most often, these issues revolve around
                                                     deciding on appropriate programs and services,
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban             generating financial support, involving
Development launched Neighborhood Networks           residents, building partnerships, hiring staff, and
in 1995. Today, more than 1,000 centers are          measuring progress.
operating in HUD insured and assisted housing
nationwide. Neighborhood Networks centers are
helping low-income people boost their basic
                                                     How This Guide Is Organized
skills and find good jobs, learn to use computers    Section one highlights 10 qualities of a
and the Internet, operate businesses, improve        successful center. Section two profiles three
their health and medical care, and access            centers that have developed sustainable
childcare, transportation, and other services.       partnerships, contributed to residents’ education
                                                     and job prospects, and successfully engaged
This guide shares important information about        residents in the centers’ planning and programs.
how to set up and operate a center. It draws         The centers profiled are:
from the experiences of Neighborhood
Networks centers in several states, as well as       (1) Wheatland Community Learning Center,
other organizations that have special lessons to         Dallas, Texas;
convey. This guide is designed for property
owners and managers who are considering              (2) Martin Luther King Jr. Community
opening centers or are in the process of creating        Learning Center, Seattle, Washington; and
them. Also it may be valuable to established
centers looking to adjust or expand their            (3) Communities On Line, Inc. at Orchard
programs.                                                Mews, Baltimore, Maryland.

No two Neighborhood Networks centers are             Section three describes two organizations that
alike. Some are housed in a single room, others      yield other valuable lessons about what works in
use an entire apartment building. Some centers       neighborhood revitalization. They are:
target one primary offering, such as job
placement, while others offer an array of            (1) City of Chattanooga, Tennessee; and
programs and services. Some centers have             (2) Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.
created partnerships with one or two local
organization, others have forged multiple            Section four lists organizations, resources, and
institutional alliances. Despite the wide variety,   contact information that may be helpful in
however, nearly all centers encounter similar        establishing and operating Neighborhood
issues as they develop and grow.                     Networks centers.




                                                                                                         1
2
                Ten Qualities of Successful
              Neighborhood Networks Centers
Profiled in this guide are examples of successful centers. To ensure your center’s success, you should:

(1) Articulate goals. The majority of                    (7) Tend to funding needs. Centers need
    successful centers outline their goals before            space, staff, equipment, and materials—
    becoming operational. Sharing these goals                most of which require funds. Our successful
    with residents and other community                       centers raised funds using different
    organizations kept them focused and earned               strategies—from collecting in-kind
    community support for their mission.                     donations from partners to tapping property-
                                                             operating funds to finance programs. Some
(2) Involve residents. Residents are a good                  of these centers researched available
    source of information and assistance. Many               resources by way of low-cost brainstorming
    model centers survey residents to determine              sessions and walks through the
    their needs before developing programs and               neighborhood to sophisticated Internet
    services.                                                searches. Properties with minimal debt had
                                                             an easier time developing and sustaining a
(3) Rely on resident advisory committees to                  center; however, even troubled properties
    identify and achieve goals. Residents who                can work in partnership with a financially
    participate in the planning process often                sound organization to obtain space and
    volunteer in center activities and increase              develop programs for a Neighborhood
    other residents’ willingness to participate.             Networks center.

(4) Identify barriers to success and develop             (8) Build partnerships. Although it is time-
    solutions. Development is not a smooth                   consuming, partnership building has played
    process, and growth often occurs in stages,              a key role in the development and growth of
    with the greatest growth occurring when an               the centers studied. Local organizations are
    organization overcomes a hurdle. Every                   a good source of funding, volunteers, and
    successful center has confronted and                     materials. Partners can also help promote
    overcome challenges.                                     center activities. Conferences with potential
                                                             partners and national training institutes have
(5) Plan ahead. The centers profiled spent time              helped organizations identify appropriate
    planning how to form partnerships, attract               partners with similar goals. In some cases,
    residents, and create programs. Planning                 finding one or two strong partners is a more
    helped the centers set priorities, link goals            effective strategy than trying to enlist
    to offerings, and find funding.                          multiple smaller partners.

(6) Develop tools to measure progress. Many              (9) Hire the right staff. Centers can increase
    of the centers and programs reviewed here                participation and decrease costs by hiring
    developed ways to determine whether or not               staff experienced with computers and other
    they are achieving their goals and if those              center equipment and who can easily
    goals will remain relevant over time.                    interact with residents.
    Evaluation tools can be simple comparisons
    of anticipated activities versus actual
    programs, or they can be complex needs
    assessment surveys of participants and
    partners.



                                                                                                          3
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



(10) Operate like a business. A professional
     approach to record keeping and other
     operations increases the center’s credibility
     to partners and residents. The centers and
     programs profiled demonstrate that
     participants gain valuable, practical
     experience from a businesslike
     environment.




4
     Neighborhood Networks Center Profiles
Wheatland Community Learning                        Dallas, was awarded the contract in October
                                                    1996. The Wheatland Community Learning
Center: Dallas, Texas                               Center began operation soon thereafter.

                                                    The 5 multifamily properties served by the
The Wheatland Community Learning Center, a
two-story center in operation since 1996, serves    center have 1,012 units and 2,530 residents.
more than 2,000 residents at five Dallas            About 40 percent of the residents are 18 years of
properties. Center staff expect about 400           age and younger. Forty percent of the adults
residents to use the center in 2002–03 to pursue    have not graduated from high school, and half
their General Equivalency Degree (GED) and          are unemployed. The majority of those who do
take courses in basic computer competencies,        have jobs are underemployed. Single mothers
academic and life skills, and business etiquette.   represent 87 percent of parents in the five
Center staff and partners also provide job
                                                    buildings. African Americans represent 95
training and placement services.
                                                    percent of the residents.
Lessons Learned
                                                    Wheatland Community Learning Center
•   Initial resident surveys helped ensure that     Wheatland’s Neighborhood Networks center is
    center activities matched residents’
    interests.                                      housed on the Wheatland Terrace grounds. The
                                                    first floor includes classrooms, a library, a break
•   Center policies, such as codes of conduct       room, a community room, and 2 computer labs
    and limited tolerance for absences, gave        with 18 terminals. On the second floor are
    residents a real-world experience.              offices and conference rooms. Three full-time
                                                    employees and one part-time employee work at
•   Providing space at the center for partners to   the center. Classes are offered in 10-week
    operate onsite programs expanded the            sessions with two intervening weeks for
    available offerings and increased residents’    registration. Course offerings include
    use of programs and services.
                                                    Keyboarding and Introduction to Computers,
                                                    Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, GED classes,
Background                                          business etiquette, life skills, customer service
                                                    training, computer training for senior citizens,
In the early 1990s, crime and violence plagued
                                                    and two after-school programs. One of the after-
Wheatland Terrace and the four neighboring
                                                    school programs for youth is a general purpose
properties. Gangs ruled the streets. Drug
                                                    tutoring program; the other is Operation ROSE
dealing, prostitution, and drive-by shootings
                                                    (Reaching Our Sisters Early), a special life-
were common. During this time the Wheatland
                                                    skills, self-esteem, and alternate-careers
property management office was torched.
                                                    building program for young women.
In 1996, the Texas HUD office placed
                                                    The center also provides space for local
Wheatland Terrace in disposition. Security
                                                    nonprofits to conduct programs. Operating
guards monitored the property around the clock
                                                    onsite are Girls, Inc., and the Child and Family
during its renovation, which included the
                                                    Guidance Center which offers counseling and
rehabilitation of one building to house a
                                                    therapy. Other onsite programs include the
Neighborhood Networks center. While seeking a
                                                    Latchkey Program and the Dallas Independent
buyer for the property, HUD issued a request for
                                                    School District, which operates GED and
proposal asking a nonprofit owner to complete
                                                    English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.
the renovation and manage the center. Dean
Learning Center, with 50 years of experience in



                                                                                                       5
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Finding Financial Support                                                  Lesson: Identify Barriers and
The initial HUD proposal required that some of                                 Develop Solutions
Wheatland Terrace’s operating overhead be
used to support the Neighborhood Networks                       Wheatland staff identified the lack of childcare
                                                                as a significant barrier to resident participation.
center. With minimal property debt, Wheatland                   Wheatland overcame this obstacle by creating a
Terrace had the resources to help fund the                      partnership with a school that offered free
center. During the first 4 months, the center                   childcare for center participants.
spent $150,000 for startup and staffing, and
$150,000 each year thereafter for operating
costs; equipment; furniture; wiring; telephone;                 Overcoming the Childcare Obstacle
copy machines; fax operations; and supplies for                 Bill Dean, the center’s first executive director,
the kitchen, break room, offices, and classes.                  found the absence of childcare to be a critical
                                                                barrier to resident participation in center
Wheatland Community Learning Center                             activities. He worked with the nearby South Port
continues to explore support from foundations,                  School to provide care for residents’ children.
corporations, and other independent funding                     South Port had existing space and staff in place
sources. The Hillcrest Foundation provided                      to handle the children but the school needed a
funding to upgrade the center’s computer labs,                  reason to work with Wheatland. Discussions
and the Gourmet Award Foods Golf                                between the center and South Port School
Tournament has targeted proceeds to support the                 focused on the likelihood that parents would
Operation ROSE program.                                         continue to use the childcare provider once they
                                                                found jobs. South Port agreed to provide 25 free
Determining What to Offer                                       spaces for children of residents who participated
                                                                in center programs. This original arrangement
            Lesson: Articulate Goals                            ended as of mid-2002; center staff are now
                                                                actively seeking a replacement agreement with
The Wheatland Community Learning Center                         another local school.
surveyed residents to learn about their needs.
The answers helped staff identify program areas.                Attracting Partners
Residents needs included: computer skills,
training, childcare, transportation, education, and             With transportation and childcare programs in
job assistance.                                                 place, Wheatland staff turned to program
                                                                development. The center contacted community
                                                                organizations with programs responding to
Wheatland Community Learning Center
                                                                needs identified in the resident surveys. It
surveyed residents in person and through the
                                                                hosted a community conference for these
management companies of the five properties
                                                                groups, thereby attracting the interest of
that the center serves. Center staff used the
                                                                potential partners. Wheatland offered the
survey results to create goals for the center.
                                                                nonprofit organizations free use of a desk,
During the goal-setting process, staff realized
                                                                telephone, and center equipment in exchange for
that certain programs needed to be in place
                                                                conducting programs at the center. As a result of
before others. For example, many residents
                                                                this conference, residents gained onsite access
needed childcare and transportation to
                                                                to educational, social, and vocational programs.
participate in center classes or travel to
                                                                Partners had a site to reach targeted audiences,
educational programs and jobs. The center’s
                                                                and the center gained volunteer staff and
location on a city busline and onsite programs
                                                                community commitment.
provided by partners solved many of the
transportation issues. Childcare, however,
proved more challenging.




6
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



After the conference, many nonprofit                       •    Educate board members about their purpose
organizations posted staff at the center. In                    and scope; and
addition to Girls, Inc., and the Child and Family
Guidance Center, the Dallas Public Library                 •    Provide board members with significant
helped organize a library for the center, and film              responsibility to make important decisions
students at Mountain View Community College                     for the center and its participants.
created a center marketing video.
                                                           Every month, staff present issues to board
Partners with staff at the center noticed                  members and suggest possible outcomes of
immediate benefits. A representative from one              decisions. Board members decide on actions and
organization working to help children stay in              work with staff to put new policies and
school felt that having easy access to residents           programs in place.
made a big difference. “It’s a lot easier for us
because we’re able to work for [residents] in a            Simulating a Real-World Experience
place where maybe they feel more comfortable,”
the staffer said.
                                                                   Lesson: Operate Like a Business
The center also has an arrangement with a local
                                                           Wheatland staff realized that operating the
college, which provides interns who gain                   center like a business helped residents adapt to
experience by working in the center’s job-                 business practices. Residents are accountable
referral office.                                           for all absences and tardiness. This practice
                                                           fosters respect for center programs. Good
“Developing partners outside of your immediate             attendance habits help prepare residents for job
community and properties to assist with                    and education requirements.
financial support is very important,” notes
center director Kim Williams. “Keep your name              The resident board helped Wheatland center
out there, and make sure people are aware of               staff develop a code of conduct in early 1997.
what you are doing as an opportunity for them              This code encouraged participants to use the
to invest in the community.”                               center to practice “being in the real world.” For
                                                           example, participants who arrive late to class are
Involving Residents in Real Decisions                      counted absent and encouraged to discontinue
The Wheatland center relies on a                           the course after a certain number of absences.
resident/employer advisory board to help make              The code of conduct proved to be an important
decisions for the center. The center’s director            success factor for residents who responded to
observed that when residents became involved               center programs with increased respect and
in the advisory board, participation in center             seriousness of purpose.
programs increased. Board members learn how
to create and use an agenda, how to write                  The center requires participants to complete a
bylaws, and how the board’s decisions affect               professional development and life skills class
other board members, residents, the property               designed and taught by executive director Kim
management organization, owners, and the                   Williams. The course uses a variety of materials,
community.                                                 including Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of
                                                           Highly Effective People. Residents plan personal
Staff found the following steps contributed to             goals, develop career plans, learn strategies to
the active participation of resident board                 help budget, manage time effectively, reduce
members:                                                   stress, and receive training in customer service
                                                           and business etiquette.
•   Hold monthly meetings and include
    significant issues on the agenda;




                                                                                                                 7
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Establishing Goals                                              Assessing the Benefits

    Lesson: Create Tools to Measure Progress                    •   Residents. For residents, participating in a
                                                                    Neighborhood Networks program can be a
Center staff used information provided from the                     life changing experience. Both center staff
initial resident surveys to develop goals for the                   and residents noted this. One resident
center. By making the goals very specific, the                      appreciated the easy access to center
center could evaluate progress at the end of the                    activities. “I couldn’t learn computers
year. It also created a tool to measure                             anywhere else except maybe the community
participation.
                                                                    college,” he said. The proximity of the
                                                                    center to this resident’s apartment enabled
The center developed annual goals linked to its                     him to gain valuable skills while spending
activities to measure resident and center                           no more than 2 or 3 hours a day away from
accomplishments.                                                    his son.

Early on, the center measured its progress by a                 •   Property Owners. The center helps owners
tracking tool called participation opportunities.                   gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
One participation opportunity occurs when a                         Owners also benefit from its positive effect
resident completes a class or center program.                       on residents, which is reflected in better
Early on, 275 residents used the center and                         care of the property and an increased ability
registered about twice as many participation                        to pay rent on time. However, Wheatland’s
opportunities.                                                      center director noted that since its activities
                                                                    are far from the world in which owners
As of 2002, center staff have opted for simpler                     operate, some do not recognize the value of
performance measures, but they continue to set                      Neighborhood Networks centers.
specific targets as well as general program
goals. Goals for 2002 included:                                 •   Property Managers. Managers see the
                                                                    center’s effect on residents daily. The center
•     Serve a total of 400 residents;
                                                                    collects data on resident participation for
•     Reintroduce GED courses (which had been                       each of the five properties it serves and
      temporarily suspended);                                       provides it to the property managers. To
                                                                    engage manager interest, Wheatland center
•     Expand evening training opportunities for                     staff occasionally holds informal
      residents;                                                    competition among the property managers
•     Enhance after-school programming for teens                    to determine who can refer the most
      and girls;                                                    residents to the center. The winning
                                                                    management teams might receive a prize
•     Raise $26,000 through various fundraising                     such as breakfast in their offices prepared
      activities;                                                   by center staff.
•     Serve at least 150 participants in center
      programs and special events;                              •   Partners. Interacting with the center has
                                                                    helped some partner organizations achieve
•     One hundred graduates of computer training                    their own missions. When the center offered
      classes;                                                      office space and easy access to young
•     Seventy-five children participating in after-                 residents, Communities in Schools
      school and summer camp programs; and                          dispatched an employee to conduct
                                                                    programs at the site. The nonprofit found
•     Seventy-five individuals employed through                     that center programs helped residents, while
      job training and placement programs.                          allowing the organization to help more
                                                                    children stay in school.




8
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



    All organizations involved with the center             Wheatland’s ability to use excess operating
    receive certificates of appreciation. Many of          funds from the apartment complex to support
    these organizations post the certificates on           the center is not typical. However, existing and
    their walls. The certificates help educate             developing centers can use Wheatland’s
    clients and customers about the                        partnership strategies to think beyond their own
    organization’s community outreach and                  resources and consider collaborating with
    provide free advertising for the center.               organizations in their community. Those owners
                                                           with extensive deferred maintenance or limited
•   Community. The community has                           resources can conduct outreach to community
    experienced marked transformation since                organizations for support.
    the center’s creation. Crime is down, a
    community spirit is prevalent among                                          Summary
    residents, and property grounds are
    noticeably cleaner. Center staff intentionally         Staff at the Wheatland Community Learning
    waited to seek support from the broader                Center identified the following activities as critical
    community until results were evident. The              to success.
    center’s director explained that this
    approach generated support when center                 •    Conduct a comprehensive resident survey to
    programs were in place and showing                          understand what residents expect from the
                                                                center.
    progress. Early success at the center
    encouraged other community organizations
                                                           •    Respond to resident needs directly and
    to get involved in center programs and                      through partnerships.
    events.
                                                           •    Create a resident advisory board and allow
•   Area Neighborhood Networks Centers.                         board members to make all critical center
    The center encouraged its partners to get                   decisions.
    involved with nearby Neighborhood
    Networks centers. Wheatland staff met with             •    Model the center’s structure after the
    management of other area centers to plan                    environment in which residents will
                                                                eventually work.
    strategies, conduct joint fundraising efforts,
    and plan shared public relations activities.           •    Offer programs that challenge residents
    These meetings enabled cross-center                         while requiring a high level of personal
    learning and helped smaller centers access                  commitment and performance.
    the resources available to larger ones.
    Outreach efforts have flagged in recent                •    Educate participants about center policies
    years in the face of more pressing program                  and enforce center rules. Establish
    and operational priorities; however, center                 grievance policies.
    staff say they are open to re-engaging these
    activities if there is outside interest and            •    Consider the scale of the center. A center
                                                                serving 200 residents will need fewer
    support for them.
                                                                computers, fewer staff, and a smaller space
                                                                than a center serving 2,000 residents.
Transferability
The Wheatland Community Learning Center
was designed to be replicated. Center staff have
helped nearby Neighborhood Networks centers
incorporate Wheatland’s code of conduct,
establish policy procedures, and develop forms.
Also, they have guided other centers in setting
up and processing participant applications for
center programs.




                                                                                                                 9
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Martin Luther King, Jr.                                         Management Services helps manage the
                                                                apartment complex.
Community Technology Center:
Seattle, WA                                                     In September 1995, Empowerment Through
                                                                Computers (ETC), a coalition of public and
The Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Community                     private partners, installed eight computers in a
Technology Center serves a 120-unit HUD-                        renovated maintenance room. ETC included
assisted multifamily apartment complex on
                                                                representatives from nonprofit and for-profit
Seattle’s south side. The center offers classes in
job skills and computer training, GED, and ESL                  management companies, government housing
and a wide array of youth activities and study                  agencies, and local colleges and universities.
programs. A quote from Winston Churchill on
the center’s Web site underscores the center’s                  Software programs in math, reading, writing,
commitment to offering an enriching                             history, and geography provided online
environment: “We shape our dwellings and                        education for a range of age levels. Center staff
afterwards our dwellings shape us.”                             installed Microsoft Office to help residents
Lessons Learned
                                                                enhance business skills, assist with homework,
                                                                and provide professional desktop publishing of
•    Hire a central employee with technical and                 resumes. Internet access allows residents to
     educational skills to serve as the motivating              conduct job searches via the Internet.
     force for participation by partners, donors,
     and volunteers.                                            Today, a full-time director supervises a
                                                                coordinator, resident volunteers, and service-
•    A successful center can operate with only a                learning students from local high schools at the
     few computers.                                             center. More than 25 children and 15 adults use
                                                                the lab regularly. Participants can take
•    Secure adequate funding to cover annual
     operating expenses.
                                                                advantage of the center’s Earn a Computer
                                                                program which awards computers to residents
                                                                who complete specified computer courses taught
Background                                                      at the center. Volunteers also are eligible to earn
The Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Apartments                    a computer after completing participation in
management office once averaged three calls to                  center activities.
911 a day, according to Elridge Morgan, the
former manager who now directs the center. The                  Securing Financial Support
center offers a safe haven where residents can                  Quantum Management Services received $5.9
learn English, study for degrees, gain                          million from HUD to renovate the complex. The
employment skills, and receive help applying for                managers used $25,000 of this grant to purchase
jobs. Soon after the center was established,                    equipment, furniture, computers, and software
conditions at the complex improved.                             for the community technology center. The
                                                                property managers have included the center’s
The city of Seattle was on the verge of                         ongoing costs in the property’s operating budget
demolishing the MLK Apartments in 1992. That                    and estimate the annual costs at $45,000. The
is when the property management collaborated                    budget includes expenses for two full-time staff,
with community partners to renovate the                         software, hardware upgrades, center utilities,
building. New trellises, gabled roofs, wrought                  and occasional maintenance. The center relies
iron fencing, playgrounds, and picnic tables                    on the technician skills of center director
contributed to the external renovation, while the               Eldridge Morgan to maintain and repair
new community technology center helped                          computers.
expand work and educational opportunities for
residents. The Aerospace Machinists Local
District 751 owns the property and Quantum




10
                                               Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



                                                               Now, in 2002, after the departure of the
          Lesson: Hire the Right Staff
                                                               previous property manager, Morgan has had to
A key employee, such as a property manager,                    once again assume those duties in addition to
who is familiar with resident issues can play a                directing the center. He is very busy, feels
critical role early in the process of developing a             overwhelmed, and is looking to recruit a new
center. At some point, the center may consider                 director for the center, as soon as a qualified
asking staff to work full time on center activities.           individual can be located.
When the demands of a growing center required
a full-time commitment at MLK, the property
manager became the center director and gave
                                                               Benefits
up his management duties.                                      •    Residents. The center averages two job
                                                                    placements a month. Five families used the
The MLK center director serves double duty as a
technical computer expert. He has helped save                       center’s classes and Internet job searches to
the center money by identifying computer needs                      find jobs with high enough salaries to move
and repairing computers.                                            out of Section 8 housing and into market
                                                                    rent apartments. Other residents are making
One difficulty in relying heavily upon the skills,                  enough money to buy homes.
expertise and passion of a key individual is that
he or she may become overburdened and
                                                               •    Property Owners. The Aerospace
overwhelmed. Centers or managers who find
themselves in this position might benefit by                        Machinists Union notes that in addition to
consciously planning for backup. This might                         preventing demolition of the apartments, the
mean identifying each component of critical                         renovation and the center’s opening have
staff’s skills and duties, and identifying, training,               reduced crime and drug proliferation. Once
or hiring another staff member to perform them                      at 50 percent occupancy during the
when needed.                                                        renovation, the property now has a 5-year
                                                                    waiting period for units. The community
Planning the Center                                                 technology center serves as an amenity,
                                                                    much like apartment tennis courts or
Eldridge Morgan’s passion, vision, technical                        swimming pools.
expertise, and strong relationships with
residents underlie the MLK computer center’s                   •    Property Managers. As a result of the
success. Unlike the two other centers profiled in                   successful turnaround of the MLK
this guide, MLK did not rely on resident surveys                    Apartments, the city of Seattle invited the
to determine center goals. Instead, the Seattle                     property managers to manage a city-owned
center launched programs after only a brief                         housing complex as well. The Seattle Police
planning period. At times, center development                       Department advocated for this unusual
progressed in a keep-trying-until-it-works                          request.
fashion. In April 1998, Morgan received the
William H. Lucy Award from the Coalition of                    •    Partners. Partners ranging from a
Black Trade Unions (CBTU) for meritorious                           supermarket chain to a basketball team have
service in the area of community service.                           supported the center through in-kind
When the center opened its doors in 1995,                           donations, volunteers, and services. In
Morgan initially served double duty as property                     return, the MLK Community Technology
manager and center director. He found,                              Center publishes the partner organizations’
however, that he often had to sacrifice one set of                  logos on the center’s Web site.
duties to accomplish the other. When the
management company offered him a choice in
                                                               •    Community. According to center director
1996, Morgan opted for center director.
                                                                    Morgan, the center has helped to “bring the
                                                                    community closer together.” For example,
                                                                    residents once feared police more than drug




                                                                                                                    11
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



     dealers; now many residents participate in a               •   Keep logs and track daily maintenance of
     neighborhood block watch.                                      computers. Not only will details become
                                                                    overwhelming without daily checks and
                                                                    balances, but computers will not operate
Lessons Learned
                                                                    properly without appropriate maintenance.
The MLK center experience is an interesting
example in that some features of its startup and                Transferability
operation appear to contradict the conventional
prescriptions for pre-planning and information                  The MLK Center has served as a prototype for
collection. Nevertheless, the center has been                   other centers in the Seattle metropolitan area.
highly successful for many years. This may be                   Morgan helped nearby Royal Hills in Renton
an illustration of the fact that every center and               secure an Internet account with Northwest
property’s situation is unique in some way, and                 Links, whose server MLK uses. A Volunteers in
that successful centers almost always have to                   Service to America (VISTA) volunteer at MLK
develop flexible, creative solutions to their own               helped set up a Neighborhood Networks center
particular challenges. There is no one off-the-                 at the Chateau Apartments. The center’s ESL
shelf model that can be applied to fit every                    teacher helped develop an ESL program at
situation.                                                      Bryant Manor and soon became an ESL
                                                                instructor at the nearby center. Morgan
Also, note that although the center has taken an                cautioned that security issues can prevent
experimental “see what works” approach to                       effective replication. He suggests that centers
development, director Morgan’s conclusions                      post security guards near the property’s main
about seeking resident input, maintaining                       entrance and use some form of security lighting
regulations, and record-keeping (below) indicate                system in the complex. These actions can help
a careful and attentive approach to managing for                diminish vandalism and robbery.
good results.
                                                                Security costs at the center were running about
                                                                $10,000 per month. In order to reduce costs, the
•    Don’t overplan! Experiment. You can
                                                                center director now personally provides security
     open a computer lab with one computer.
                                                                2–3 hours a night. The center and property are
     You don’t have to wait until you have top-
                                                                protected by security gates with a guard shack
     of-the-line equipment.
                                                                and video monitor, which also reduce security
                                                                personnel costs.
     As Eldridge Morgan puts it: “Whatever you
     have, do it. Don’t hesitate to start—if you
                                                                Sustainability
     don’t start, you can’t finish.”
                                                                The center was awarded an AmeriCorps VISTA
     For program development, he says, “Talk to                 volunteer to identify needs, procure center
     the people that come in. Ask them, ‘What                   resources, and build partnerships to promote
     do you need?’ Some people came in with                     sustainability. By developing a database of
     new stuff, new ideas and needs we hadn’t                   contacts, meeting with potential partners, and
     thought of. We asked what they needed.                     consistently following up with contacts, the
     That’s the whole thing.”                                   volunteer helped establish partnerships with
                                                                organizations ranging from the 7-Eleven
•    Be firm with rules and regulations. If you                 convenience store to the Seattle Mariners. He
     make an exception for one person, others                   used the center’s PowerPoint software to create
     will demand the same. This is especially                   a slide presentation as a marketing aid when
     critical when an organization receives                     meeting with potential partners. He also
     federal funds and must abide by regulations                developed a brochure highlighting center
     that prohibit discrimination.                              successes.




12
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Today, in 2002, AmeriCorps has run out of                  Communities On Line, Inc.
funding, however, the former VISTA volunteer
continues to help out on a part-time voluntary
                                                           Orchard Mews: Baltimore, MD
basis.
                                                           Communities On Line, Inc. was set up to serve
                                                           Orchard Mews, a 101-unit HUD-assisted
Success can also present sustainability                    property; McCullough Homes, a public housing
problems. Director Morgan finds it difficult to            complex with 1,000 units; and Work Focus 2000,
maintain a sufficient number of daytime parent             a welfare-to-work program of the Baltimore
volunteers because they tend to find paid jobs             Urban League (BUL). Other community
and move on. “This is a good problem to have, ”            members could access the center’s services for
he notes, “we want to be a stepping stone, not a           a minimal fee. The center would provide classes
                                                           in computer literacy and later include classes in
rut.”
                                                           Microsoft Word and Excel. The organization was
                                                           assigned to BUL’s help desk troubleshooting
                   Summary                                 computer technology department. Orchard Mews
                                                           employs a part-time substance abuse counselor
The MLK Community Technology Center is a                   and a full-time nurse to assist with residents’
national model largely because of the passion              health needs. The property received a 1998
and vision of the center director.                         John J. Gunther Blue Ribbon Best Practice
                                                           Award from HUD for its healthcare
•   Focus staff to work on specific areas that             demonstration program.
    include fundraising, instruction, and resident
    and community outreach.                                However, despite careful planning, highly
                                                           successful programming, very positive
                                                           community response, and many individual
•   Build a volunteer base from former partner
                                                           successes, Communities On Line was forced to
    organizations, residents, and government
                                                           close its center due to an unexpected funding
    programs such as VISTA and AmeriCorps.
                                                           gap. BUL, owners of the building housing the
                                                           center and most of the equipment, was able to
•   Use incentives such as Earn-Your-Own-                  secure funding and to continue and expand the
    Computer awards for completed                          center’s operation and programs. The center,
    assignments.                                           now called the Baltimore Urban League
                                                           Community Technology Program, continues to
•   Incorporate programs that respond to                   operate successfully, providing service to over
    residents’ needs. MLK created an ESL class             1,000 participants a year from Orchard Mews,
    in response to the property’s large immigrant          McCullough Homes, and the larger community.
    population, which is 60 percent Somali.
                                                           Lessons Learned
•   Develop a database of existing donors and
    look for ways to involve them in center                •    Take time to plan programs for the center.
    activities.
                                                           •    Involve partners and residents in the
•   Continually seek new donors and partners.                   planning process.

                                                           •    Cultivate at least one strong partnership.
                                                                Plan far in advance for funding support, and
                                                                be prepared for funding changes. Strong
                                                                support and involvement of residents,
                                                                partners, and community members can help
                                                                your center through tough times.




                                                                                                                13
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Background                                                      are located near downtown Baltimore, in an area
                                                                characterized by low-income housing, low- to
In 1995, Angela Wickham, the property
                                                                moderate-market rents, and above-average crime
manager at Orchard Mews, began exploring
                                                                rates.
ways to help residents develop competitive job
skills. She met with Charles Wilson, HUD
Neighborhood Networks Coordinator for                              Lesson: Partnerships Help Center Grow
Maryland, who encouraged her to consider
opening a Neighborhood Networks center at                       Communities On Line received computers and
Orchard Mews. During the next 2 years,                          other equipment through its partnership with the
                                                                BUL. Funds from an Urban League grant helped
Wickham attended Neighborhood Networks                          purchase new computers for the center to
seminars, visited properties with centers, and                  supplement those initially donated by HUD.
along with Wilson, began speaking to potential                  Partners continue to support the center.
partners.

Lacking financial resources and space for a                     The computer center occupies one room of the
center, Wickham reached out to the BUL                          BUL building. One full-time Urban League
because they owned the building that housed                     employee assists with curriculum development
Apartment Investment and Management                             and classroom instruction. Resident volunteers
Company, Orchard Mews’ property                                 help with all other center tasks, which include
management company. The BUL and its                             answering telephone calls, registering class
executive director, Roger Lyons, offered early                  participants, purchasing supplies, tutoring, and
and ongoing support for the center.                             answering correspondence.

Invitations were extended to representatives                    The center held its grand opening in August
from Baltimore’s City Housing Authority,                        1997 and began offering computer classes in
owners of McCullough Homes, Congressman                         April 1998. The center offered two computer
Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and Reverend                         classes—one during the day and a second in the
Groves, pastor of the Canaan Baptist Church, to                 evening—in 1998, as well as an open computer
participate in the center planning process. Each                lab between classes for participants to practice.
played an important role in developing                          Class sessions ran for 4 weeks.
Communities On Line.
                                                                The resident advisory group participated in the
                                                                first pilot course. The group’s feedback helped
            Lesson: Planning is Key                             the paid Urban League instructor adjust the
                                                                course to meet residents’ needs. Partners and
Communities On Line, Inc. met weekly to plan                    residents used the interim period after the pilot
programs with residents, managers, HUD staff,
and partners.                                                   course to develop programs, create class
                                                                curricula, and conduct outreach.

With partners in place, Communities On Line                     Raising Financial and Other Supports
broadened the planning process by distributing
meeting flyers to residents and other community                 The BUL provides many in-kind donations to
members. A core group of residents met at the                   Communities On Line, including state-of-the-art
BUL with property managers, partners, and                       computer room, materials, and one employee to
HUD staff on a weekly basis to develop                          staff the center. To minimize administrative
programs, determine staffing, outline lesson                    costs, the center opened classes to the
plans, and create curricula.                                    community for a fee of $25 per class. These fees
                                                                help pay for center items such as computer
Communities On Line, Inc.                                       disks, paper, and class folders.

Both of the properties served by the                            Communities On Line worked to achieve
Communities On Line computer center                             501(c)3 nonprofit status, then applied for and



14
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



won a $200,000 2-year operational support                  residents. The former volunteer staffers and
grand from the U.S. Department of Commerce                 leaders of Communities On Line had become so
(DOC). The center also won a $50,000                       highly skilled, however, that during the interim
corporate grant from Bell Atlantic (now the                they were offered and accepted paid lead staff
Verizon Foundation).                                       positions at other housing programs’
                                                           Neighborhood Networks centers.
Identifying Resident Needs
                                                           BUL hired other residents to fill the staff
     Lesson: Resident Involvement Plays                    positions. Under the circumstances, it was
               Important Role                              decided not to continue with the Communities
                                                           On Line center name, and the center was
Communities On Line, Inc. benefited from initial           renamed the Baltimore Urban League
surveys identifying the level of resident computer
                                                           Community Technology Program.
knowledge. Surveys revealed that residents had
basic computer literacy needs that included
keyboard use and running office and educational            The new program essentially continues the
software. The center used survey results to                model, goals, and outreach and marketing
establish goals for the center that helped                 efforts of Communities On Line, according to
increase residents’ comfort level with computers.          Michael Smith, who was the BUL director of
                                                           technology for the old center and is currently the
In addition to holding community meetings,                 center director. “The biggest change is in the
the Communities On Line organizing committee               type and quality of service. Our scope of service
conducted resident surveys. At Orchard Mews,               has expanded 1000 percent.”
this entailed going door-to-door and speaking
with residents. Because of the large number of             To Communities On Line’s computer literacy
residents at McCullough Homes, a mail-in                   training, the new center has added onsite
survey assessed residents’ experience with                 Microsoft A+ and M.O.U.S.E. technical
computers and interest in the center. The                  certification, and Cisco Corporation and Web
organizing committee used the surveys to                   designer training. For youth, the center offers
establish goals to expand computer literacy, to            PowerUp programming, and summer camp with
provide education, advocacy, and job training to           courses, in robotics, music and video
center clients, and to increase participant                engineering, PC repair, and Microsoft
involvement in community activities.                       PowerPoint presentations.

                                                           The detailed, in depth curriculum attracts a
The Baltimore Urban League                                 broad range of users from inside and outside the
Community Technology                                       Orchard Mews and McCullough Homes
Program                                                    communities, including professionals seeking
                                                           the industry-standard certifications. All
Because its original DOC operating grant was               programming is free to residents of the two
for only 2 years, Communities On Line, Inc. and            properties; outside users pay a fee that helps
the BUL applied for a 3-year grant from the U.S.           support the center’s programs. “We’ve reached
Department of Education (DOE) to continue                  the point where, through our community’s
operations. However, this funding did not come             efforts, we now actually serve more people
through at the time it was expected, DOC                   outside our community,” Smith notes.
funding ran out, and the center was forced to
close in 2001.                                             “Under the new staffing model, with paid staff
                                                           hired by the BUL, the center does not get quite
Within a few months, the DOE did award a                   as much resident input as it did when it was all
$675,000 3-year grant to continue center                   staffed and run by resident volunteers,” Smith
operation. The new grant included funding to               says. However, the success, scope and direction
hire staff to fill positions and perform work that         of the current program would not have been
previously had all been done by volunteer



                                                                                                                15
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



possible without the groundwork built by the                        organizations, residents, elected officials,
residents’ organization.                                            HUD officials, a church choir, and singing
                                                                    groups. The city provided a fire truck and
“The Communities On Line story is extremely                         staff to assist with parade logistics.
important,” he says. “Without that effort and                       Community members have been taking
energy from the community, this would never                         advantage of the center’s computer classes,
have taken off the way it did. They did                             which are available to them for a minimal
absolutely everything to get it to work—they                        fee.
caused it to be put on the map. The resident
organizers were the first to go through the                     Lessons Learned
classes. For a center and its programs to be
really vital, it’s important to start with the                  •   Hold regular meetings of a core group of
community—not just at the table, but as a part                      residents, partners, center volunteers and
of the decision-making process.”                                    staff to learn about ongoing center issues.
                                                                    Determine solutions and assess the daily
Benefits                                                            impact of bylaws, policies, and programs on
                                                                    participants.
•    Residents. The center’s first two computer
     classes have been at capacity and residents                •   Ensure residents are involved and
     have taken ownership of the center.                            supporting center activities.
     Resident association members help
     interview and train center volunteers, assist              •   Allow time to plan. After 2 years of
     with class development, respond to onsite                      planning, the Communities On Line center
     and telephone inquiries, conduct                               became operational.
     registrations, and tutor students. Under the
     guidance of the BUL’s director of                          •   Set clear center goals and focus on those
     technology, the residents have upgraded the                    goals daily.
     computers used by Urban League staff,
     which asked Communities On Line                            •   Beware of unpredictable or unexpected
     participants to redesign the BUL Web site.                     funding changes. Plan far ahead, and
                                                                    diversify support as much as possible.
•    Property Owners and Managers. As                               Strong resident, community, and partner
     one of the primary initiators of the center,                   involvement may carry a program through a
     Orchard Mews property manager Angela                           funding failure.
     Wickham has played an important role in
     the success of the center. She and the                     •   Success may lead to changes—don’t be
     property owners have benefited from                            afraid to be flexible. A staff-led model may
     residents’ enthusiasm for center programs                      supplant a resident-led one when a center
     and from area organizations that have                          achieves a certain level of size and program
     become involved in center activities.                          complexity. This change may be more
                                                                    successful and less risky where there is
•    Partners. The center has helped unite and                      already a strong base of resident support and
     foster relationships with many community                       involvement.
     organizations around similar issues.
     Wickham noted that local organizations are                 Transferability
     beginning to work together to solve a range
     of community problems.                                     Existing and newly developing centers can
                                                                follow many of the Communities On Line
•    Community. Many community groups                           center’s planning activities. Wickham suggests
     participated in a city parade along Druid                  that centers begin by involving their best
     Hill Avenue to celebrate the center’s grand                resource—residents—in the process. “Do not
     opening. Marching bands joined area                        make the mistake of thinking for them or calling



16
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



all the shots and asking later, ‘What do you               In this case, the partner was critical in carrying
think?’” she says.                                         forward the center program, and in taking it to a
                                                           higher level of community service. It was also
Centers may benefit from enlisting one or two              important that the partner, the BUL, was willing
effective partners, such as the alliance with              to provide strong support from the very
Communities On Line. Such partnerships                     beginning of the center’s development, while
require time and hard work. Communities On                 being sensitive to and respectful of the need for
Line first researched the missions of local                real resident involvement in the development
organizations to find a good match. Then, staff            and operation of the center
contacted the leaders of potential partner
organizations to arrange meetings. These
                                                                                 Summary
meetings explored whether the goals of the
organization matched the center’s goals. Since             The strength of Communities On Line, Inc. is its
resident participation is an important part of             strong collaborative efforts involving Orchard
Neighborhood Networks, centers may ask                     Mews Apartments and McCullogh Homes. The
whether partners will allow residents to take the          center focuses on expanding computer
initiative in projects. Organizations that work on         technology. Orchard Mews supplements this
an equal level with residents help residents and           training with additional resident programs,
                                                           including onsite healthcare and entrepreneurial
partner organizations learn from each other.
                                                           training. Involve all members of the community in
                                                           the center planning process. Collaborative
Choose partners carefully—quality is often                 efforts help increase attendance at center events
more important than quantity. Ask the following            and classes. Allow time for democratic planning
question: What can the center offer this partner           processes. Consensus building can require
in return for the partner’s services or products?          weeks and months of meetings before the center
                                                           is operational. Analyze residents’ needs and
For example, children at Orchard Mews and                  required resources before seeking funding or
                                                           space. Smaller spaces are soon outgrown.
McCullough Homes can attend the BUL’s
                                                           Consider creating a slightly larger center than
summer math and science lab at no cost and                 intended to allow for future growth. Always
older residents are invited to participate in              address the basics in any center class. For
special Urban League presentations and                     example, computer classes should include
seminars.                                                  lessons in using the keyboard and the mouse.




                                                                                                                17
18
                  Neighborhood Revitalization:
                       A Bigger Picture
The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the          Background
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation offer
                                                     To address increasing crime and unemployment,
valuable lessons that may be useful in helping
                                                     Chattanooga citizens formed a nonprofit
Neighborhood Networks centers anchor their
                                                     organization in the 1980s that operated
communities’ renewal.
                                                     somewhat like a Neighborhood Networks
                                                     center. That nonprofit, Chattanooga Venture,
Chattanooga’s story is about how residents can
                                                     expanded community involvement in city issues
transform their community by working together
                                                     and gave the city a voice and a vision.
to overcome the same challenges that face HUD
insured and assisted apartment properties. The
                                                     The first step to get the city on track was to
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation story
                                                     create Vision 2000. Similar in content to the
illustrates how a strong national partner can give
                                                     mission statement of many Neighborhood
a substantial boost to community-based
                                                     Networks centers, this vision helped residents
organizations like Neighborhood Networks
                                                     maintain a disciplined focus on the most
centers.
                                                     important issues, especially affordable housing
                                                     and jobs.
The City of Chattanooga,
Tennessee                                                       Lesson: Articulate Goals
A decade ago, Chattanooga—population                 Chattanooga residents helped the city identify
150,000—faced the common litany of urban             neighborhood goals, raise money for projects,
problems, including crime, unemployment, the         and support activities through volunteering.
out migration of jobs, and a shortage of quality
affordable housing. Chattanoogans responded
by organizing task forces and small committees       Chattanooga Venture staff encouraged residents
to revitalize the city. Their efforts helped         to participate in goal-setting meetings across the
Chattanooga become internationally recognized        city. More than 1,700 people attended public
as one of the most improved cities in the 1990s.
                                                     meetings during this 5-month process. The high
Lesson Learned                                       level of participation revealed residents’ strong
                                                     interest in developing solutions to community
•   Broad public participation helps identify a      problems. Participants identified 40 goals to
    wide range of issues and increases creativity    revitalize the city, which included mitigating
    in problem solving.                              family violence, renovating historic buildings
                                                     and cultural attractions, increasing affordable
•   Structured committees can accomplish more        housing, and cleaning up the downtown
    than individuals working alone.                  riverfront.
•   Ongoing reassessment of priorities provides      The residents who identified the city’s goals
    focus and keeps programs on track.
                                                     began working in small groups to achieve these
                                                     objectives. One task force raised $500,000 from
                                                     private and public organizations to open a
                                                     Family Violence Shelter for battered women




                                                                                                       19
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



and their children. Another group raised seed                   groups determined whether they could find
money for a $6 million renovation of the                        financial and volunteer support to achieve their
historic Tivoli Theater. The restoration of a                   goals and then decided to create an organization
local bridge, now the world’s longest                           to perform the work. The newly created
footbridge, helped bring pedestrian traffic                     organizations identified appropriate office space
downtown. The city developed and rehabilitated                  and began to recruit volunteers. Chattanooga
more than 3,000 affordable housing units.                       Venture continued to provide assistance through
                                                                each stage of development.
           Lesson: Funding is Critical
                                                                Staying on Track
Chattanooga residents found that little money                   Chattanooga Venture required time and long-
from the city could be a down payment on                        term commitments from participants. Goal
projects and that outreach to local organizations
generated contributions to cover the expenses of                setting took 5 months and many more meetings
community projects.                                             were required for groups to decide how to
                                                                accomplish the goals and secure resources and
                                                                volunteers. Once resources were in place to
Just as Neighborhood Networks centers invest a                  restore Chattanooga, work progressed slowly,
small amount of money in center programs and                    particularly on activities such as restoration of
encourage local organizations to contribute the                 homes and historic buildings.
remaining funds, the city of Chattanooga
invested a small amount to accomplish its goals.                To help stay on track, the city decided to
Nonprofit and for-profit organizations donated                  evaluate its success. In 1993, more than 2,600
additional funds. Chattanooga Venture noted                     residents offered suggestions to issues in five
that “for every dollar spent by the public sector,              areas: work, government, places, people, and
the private sector invested three dollars” on                   play. Each goal included activities to achieve
Vision 2000 activities.1                                        that objective. For example, listed under the
                                                                goal of creating a vibrant downtown were
Getting Results for Chattanooga                                 activities such as establishing a public market
                                                                for farmers, artists, and craft vendors;
    Lesson: Involve Residents on Committees                     developing an incentive fund to encourage
                                                                downtown businesses to renovate buildings and
Residents worked together in small groups to
                                                                improve landscaping; and extending the city
determine projects, identify funding and secure
volunteers. Residents offered a neighborhood                    shuttle system to the downtown area.2
perspective on whether or not plans could
succeed.                                                        Earning Global Honors
                                                                Chattanooga’s willingness to involve residents
Chattanooga Venture found that people can                       in new ways to improve their city earned the
effectively address issues when they meet in                    city national and global honors. In 1996, the
structured groups. Chattanooga Venture helped                   Together Foundation and the United Nations
residents work in small groups to accomplish                    Centre for Human Settlements selected
goals identified in Vision 2000. The task forces                Chattanooga as one of 12 global recipients of
and steering committees identified what would                   the Award Winning Practices in Urban Issues.
be needed to ensure their projects could succeed                The jury highlighted three areas in which the
and then decided whether or not to proceed,                     city excelled: technology, economic
expand the project’s scope or move in a                         development, and environmental management.
different direction. Taking time to think through               The Environmental Best Manufacturing
a project in advance saved time and money. The                  Practices program honored the city of
1
 Revision 2000: Take Charge Again, Revision 2000
                                                                2
magazine designed and produced by Gianni Longo of                Community with a Vision: Revision 2000, Brochure,
Urban Initiatives.                                              May 20, 1993, conceived by Urban Initiatives.



20
                                          Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Chattanooga for promoting exceptional
                                                          Lessons Learned
practices, methods and procedures in planning,
production, facilities, and management. HUD               •    Clarify the goals of the organization before
also recognized the city’s transformation in a                 providing services or products.
publication addressing strategies for community           •    Link goals to resources and proceed
change.3 Popular media such as US News and                     according to available resources.
World Report (June 15, 1998) also publicized              •    Form a board and encourage members to
the story of the comeback city.                                take ownership of the organization.


                   Summary                                Background

Chattanooga’s community transformation offers             Congress established the Neighborhood
lessons for community groups planning change.             Reinvestment Corporation in 1978 to revive
• Take time to develop a vision.                          low-income communities and provide affordable
• Involve the community in decision-making.               housing. The community groups that have
• Start with many ideas, then compress them               joined the corporation’s network are called
    to a few broad priorities.                            NeighborWorks®, operating in communities
• Identify actions that can help achieve goals.           throughout the United States. Based in
• Prepare and share a report in the process of            Washington, D.C., with staff in nine district
    identifying goals and implementing                    offices across the country, the corporation
    programs.                                             provides training, technical assistance, and some
• Create small groups to raise funds and                  seed funding to member organizations. Network
    identify steps to achieve each goal.                  organizations can apply for small grants from
• Reassess priorities periodically.
                                                          the corporation that often are matched by local
• Provide progress reports to the public on               governments, businesses, and foundations.
    achievements.
                                                          The corporation receives annual funding from
                                                          Congress and receives additional support from
Neighborhood Reinvestment                                 foundations with programs at member
Corporation: Washington, DC                               organization sites.

The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation is                          Lesson: Funding is Critical
a national nonprofit organization that helps
revitalize low-income communities and provide             NeighborWorks® organizations rely on seed
affordable housing for residents. To accomplish           money from the Neighborhood Reinvestment
this mission, the corporation founded a national          Corporation and donations from local
network of community-based organizations that             government, businesses, and community
work in partnership with residents, businesses,           groups. Local organizations sign financial
government officials, and other organizations to          agreements with partners to ensure funding is
create healthy communities. These local                   ongoing.
member organizations resemble Neighborhood
Networks centers in many respects. Through
national and local partnerships, the corporation          At the local level, the corporation works with a
has helped expand housing and economic                    city or a group of organizations to help defray
development in communities across the country             the costs of starting a NeighborWorks® group.
for two decades.
                                                          The corporation commits up to $100,000. This
                                                          seed money helps fund a local development
                                                          coordinator and all costs associated with four or
                                                          five area-wide strategic planning workshops that
3
 VISION/REALITY: Strategies for Community                 result in the creation of a nonprofit organization.
Change, HUD’s Office of Community Planning and            Total startup financing on the local level can
Development, HUD–1449–CPR, March 1994, p. 56.             average between $200,000 and $300,000.



                                                                                                               21
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Diverse Boards Are Key To Success                                   from national and local training institutes,
                                                                    publications, and other technical assistance
The corporation encourages member
                                                                    materials.
organizations to create resident-led governing
boards that include community residents and
representatives from government agencies,                       •   NeighborWorks® organizations. The
businesses, and community organizations.                            corporation’s annual training institutes and
                                                                    technical assistance resources have enabled
                                                                    local organizations to respond to community
Lesson: Advisory Committees Help                                    housing and development needs. Many
Identify and Achieve Goals                                          groups are now more effective and able to
                                                                    provide greater resources to both partner
NeighborWorks® groups form advisory boards                          organizations and residents.
with residents, government representatives, and
local businesses, or community groups. Board
members rely on their professional knowledge                    Lessons Learned
and networks to find funding and volunteers.                    George Knight, executive director of
                                                                Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, offers
These local boards identify priorities and                      the following suggestions to help growing
resources, including grants and loans from                      organizations:
financial institutions, foundations, and other
private sources. Public support includes                        •   Clearly define the group’s goals at the
Community Development Block Grant money                             outset. Ensure these goals are achievable
from HUD and funding from cities and states. In                     and within the organization’s resources.
some cases, local government funding for streets
and parks helps support neighborhood                            •   Use appropriate tools to measure progress.
revitalization.                                                     For example, the number of new mortgages
                                                                    is a more compelling measurement of
NeighborWorks® groups work closely with                             success than the number of residents who
community organizations. Board members rely                         receive homebuyer counseling.
on their personal and professional networks, as
well as research on community assets, to                        •   Encourage the board of directors, at national
develop partnerships. Partner organizations                         and local levels, to exercise ownership of
provide funding, volunteers, and resources.                         the organization. This group can be a critical
NeighborWorks® groups also conduct outreach                         source of ideas, funding, and partnership
to residents in the community. Some groups                          opportunities.
request community volunteers for a
neighborhood cleanup day; others form                           •   Spend time and resources hiring staff who
committees or hold block-club meetings to                           will help the organization grow.
discuss timely issues.
                                                                •   Operate in a businesslike manner, whether
Benefits                                                            or not you make a profit.
•    Community. The network has stimulated
     community reinvestment of more than $1.8                   “Most new organizations attempt to do too
     billion and helped over 83,000 low-income                  much with too few resources,” Knight says. The
     families purchase or improve their homes.                  steps to success are not complicated but require
                                                                work. Many organizations fall short of their
•    Partners. Local partners have benefited                    goals when they seek short cuts and avoid
     through increased property values and                      follow though. To increase success, newly
     expanded local economies. National                         developing organizations should design a
     partners have benefited from community                     strategic plan with clear objectives, defining
     development and leadership skills gained



22
                                            Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



who is responsible for each objective and
establishing tools to measure success.

Transferability and Sustainability
The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
has successfully replicated NeighborWorks®
organizations across the country for more than
20 years. Knight attributes much of the
corporation’s success to clarity around the
organization’s goals. The path to achieving
these goals can vary widely from organization to
organization depending on local needs and
resources. In addition to training local
organizations in how to structure and govern
themselves and raise resources, the corporation
helps troubleshoot during crisis situations.

                   Summary

The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
has helped increase lending to distressed
communities across the country through training,
technical assistance, and funding of local
community-based organizations. The following
highlights factors contributing to success.

•   Individuals and organizations that are most
    affected by community actions should be
    involved in identifying issues and planning
    activities.

•   A partnership of residents and
    representatives from the private and public
    sectors ensures that organizations address
    a range of needs from diverse perspectives
    and resources.

•   Devise methods to evaluate all issues
    important to the organization. That which is
    not measured is often not perceived as
    important.

•   Develop evaluation systems early—
    optimally when creating the organization.




                                                                                                                 23
24
                                         Resources
Contact Information for                              Resources include:
Neighborhood Networks                                   •   Technical Assistance Guides. The
Centers                                                     guides, newly updated in 2002, provide
Wheatland Community Learning Center                         detailed information for property
Contact: Kim Williams, Executive Director                   owners and managers, center staff,
8157 Leigh Ann Drive                                        residents, and partners on a variety of
Dallas, TX 75232                                            topics relating to starting and operating
Phone: (972) 224–5243                                       a center. (This publication for example.)
Fax: (972) 442–9721
                                                        •   The Strategic Tracking and
Martin Luther King, Jr. Community                           Assessment Tool (START). This
Technology Center                                           online tool for developing and updating
Contact: Elridge Morgan, Director                           business plans will assist you with one
7923 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South                      of the most critical elements in
Seattle, WA 98118–4344                                      developing a successful center. START
Phone: (206) 722–4665                                       performs calculations and provides
Fax: (206) 723–6514                                         estimates to help you plan your
Web site: www.nwlink.com/~mlkapts                           program. At the end of the START
                                                            process, your center will have a
Communities On Line, Inc.                                   document to guide it through the
Contact: Angela Wickham,                                    development phase and as it begins
Director, Orchard Mews                                      operations.
514 Orchard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201                                     •   Network News (formerly
Phone: (410) 523–2021                                       Neighborhood Networks News Brief)—
Fax: (410) 728–1507                                         (current and limited past issues). A
                                                            quarterly newsletter distributed to the
Neighborhood Networks Information Center                    public, HUD field offices, and
                                                            Neighborhood Networks centers.
The Neighborhood Networks Information
Center provides direct technical assistance to          •   NNewsline (current and limited past
Neighborhood Networks centers. A range of                   issues). A quarterly newsletter
publications and materials are available free for           highlighting topics of interest to
reference or downloading on the Neighborhood                Neighborhood Networks coordinators
Networks Web site,                                          and centers.
www.NeighborhoodNetworks.org. Many
publications are also available in printed format.      •   Online List of Current Neighborhood
Call the Information Center toll-free at (888)              Networks Centers. The list, searchable
312–2743 or TTY (800) 483–2209, to request                  by state or by center name, provides
assistance or publications, or to find out what             center and property name, city, and
printed materials are available.                            contact information.




                                                                                                   25
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



     •   Fact Sheets. Fact sheets are one-page                  •   Government consultants who work directly
         documents on a variety of topics,                          with nonprofit leaders to design specialized
         including an overview of the initiative                    solutions to meet an organization’s needs.
         and telehealth programs at
         Neighborhood Networks centers.                         •   Tools on nonprofit governance, including
                                                                    more than 100 booklets, books, videos, CDs,
     •   Success Stories. Brief overviews of                        and audiotapes.
         successful activities at Neighborhood
         Networks centers across the country are                •   An annual conference that brings together
         posted online and kept in a searchable                     approximately 800 board members and chief
         archive.                                                   executives of nonprofit organizations from
                                                                    around the world.
Organizations
These organizations provide useful resources for                U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
those interested in establishing or growing a                   409 Third Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20416,
Neighborhood Networks center.                                   Phone: (800) U–ASK–SBA or (800) 827–5722
                                                                Fax: (202) 205–7064 TDD: (704) 344–6640
Accountants for the Public Interest (API)                       Web site: www.sba.gov.
University of Baltimore, Thurnel Business                       The SBA provides programs and services to
Center, Room 155, 1420 North Charles Street,                    help small businesses develop and grow. SBA
BC519, Baltimore, MD 21201                                      offers business counseling and training through
Phone: (410) 837–6533                                           a service corps of retired executives
Fax: (410) 837–6532                                             (www.score.org) and small business
Web site: www.accountingnet.com/asso/api.                       development centers across the country. SBA
API is a national network of affiliates through                 also conducts Tribal Business Information
which accountants volunteer their expertise to                  Centers on Native American reservations and
nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and                  the online women’s business center
individuals who cannot afford professional                      (www.onlinewbc.org) for women who own
accounting services. API publishes a series of                  small businesses.
user-friendly guides for nonprofits on financial
topics.                                                         Publications
                                                                Ask and You Shall Receive: A Fundraising
BoardSource (formerly the National Center for                   Training Program for Religious Organizations
Nonprofit Boards)                                               and Projects. Klein, Kim. Web citation:
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 900                                    www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/
Washington, DC 20036–5114                                       jbask.html.
Phone: (202) 452–6262 or (800) 883–6262
Fax: (202) 452–6299                                             Assessing Your Organization’s Finances: A
Web site: www.boardsource.org.                                  Guide to Using and Understanding Financial
BoardSource is a resource for practical                         Reports. The Enterprise Foundation. Web
information, tools and best practices, training,                citation: www.enterprisefoundation.org.
and leadership development for board members
of nonprofit organizations worldwide. It enables                •   The process of reviewing an organization’s
organizations to fulfill their missions by helping                  financial statements to understand its fiscal
build strong and effective nonprofit boards by                      and operational positions and trends—
providing:                                                          commonly used by corporate analysts—can
                                                                    be adapted for nonprofit community
•    Resources to nonprofit leaders through                         development organizations. It is designed
     workshops, training, and an extensive Web                      for the staff and board of nonprofit
     site at www.boardsource.org.                                   community development organizations,




26
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



    government agencies, technical assistance              •    Designed to help new and potential board
    providers, and partners who support them.                   members understand the critical role they
                                                                play in the success of the organization. It
Board Basics: A Primer for Community                            will help boards of community-based
Development Organizations. The Enterprise                       organizations better understand and carry
Foundation Web citation:                                        out their responsibilities.
www.enterprisefoundation.org.
                                                           Como Recaudar Fondos en su Comunidad (How
•   Explains the fundamental structure, roles,             to Raise Money in Your Community).
    and responsibilities of a board in governing           Grassroots Fundraising Journal Reprint
    a nonprofit organization. Offers an overview           Collection. Translated by Norma Del Rio.
    of legal duties and financial oversight, in            Articles by Klein, Kim, Stephanie Roth, Maria
    addition to the stages of board development.           Bonzales, Dave Fleischer, and Lucy Grugett.
                                                           Web citation:
The Board of Directors. Grassroots Fundraising             www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/pubs.html.
Journal Reprint Collection. Roth, Stephanie, and
Kim Klein. Web citation:                                   •    An introduction to the most common and
http://grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/pubs.htm.               successful nonprofit fundraising strategies
                                                                in 14 of the best articles from the
•   An organization’s board of directors is the                 Grassroots Fundraising Journal. Small
    key to successful fundraising. These articles               organizations can put these strategies to use
    show how to develop an effective board of                   immediately, whether or not they have paid
    directors who are willing and able to raise                 staff of have done fundraising before. These
    money. Topics covered include running                       strategies do not require a lot of money
    effective meetings, recruiting better board                 upfront, technical knowledge, or expensive
    members, getting the board to raise money,                  equipment such as computers or elaborate
    and more.                                                   databases. (In Spanish only.)

Boards That Make a Difference: A New Design                The Complete Book of Model Fundraising
for Leadership in Nonprofit and Public                     Letters. Kuniholm, Roland. Web citation:
Organizations (Jossey-Bass Nonprofit Sector                www.amazon.com.
Series). Carver, John. Web citation:
www.amazon.com.                                            Creating a Budget That Works: A Self-Guided
                                                           Training Handbook for Nonprofit Community
 Building and Managing a Better Board: An In-              Development Organizations. The Enterprise
Depth Workbook for Board Members and                       Foundation. Web citation:
Executive Directors of Community Development               www.enterprisefoundation.org.
Organizations. The Enterprise Foundation. Web
citation: www.enterprisefoundation.org.                    •    Budgets are the financial workplans for
                                                                projects, programs, and organizations.
•   Helps boards of nonprofits develop a                        Budgets that work are based on realistic
    common understanding of their roles and                     assumptions, use good cost estimates, and
    responsibilities. Group exercises on topics                 come from organizational processes that
    such as mission, vision, activities and values              include board and staff members. Designed
    statements, stages of board development,                    for board and staff of nonprofit community
    and board roles, are included.                              development organizations.

Building Community-Based Boards. The
Enterprise Foundation. Web citation:
www.enterprisefoundation.org.




                                                                                                                27
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



Developing Realistic Cash Flow Projections:                     Getting Major Gifts, third edition, rev. 2000.
Forecasting When Money Will Be Received and                     Grassroots Fundraising Journal Reprint
Spent at Your Nonprofit. The Enterprise                         Collection. Web citation:
Foundation. Web citation:                                       www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/gifts.html.
www.enterprisefoundation.org.
                                                                •   In a healthy nonprofit organization, 60
•    Contains detailed descriptions of expected                     percent of the money comes from 10 percent
     future inflows and outflows of cash into a                     of the donors. How to develop a major gifts
     project, program, or organization are                          program—putting the most lucrative
     important tools in good operational and                        fundraising strategy within reach of small
     fiscal management systems. Examples and                        nonprofits.
     exercises help the user develop projections
     for single-family housing development,                     Grant Writing for Dummies. Browning, Beverly
     nonprofit property management, and                         A. Web citation: www.amazon.com
     supportive housing programs.
                                                                Grantmakers Directory (2000-2001 Edition).
Evaluating Your Executive Director: A Guide                     Web citation: www.grassrootsfundraising.org.
for Boards of Nonprofit Community
Development Organizations. The Enterprise                       •   Grantseeking bible for progressive
Foundation. Web citation:                                           fundraisers; info on more than 200
www.enterprisefoundation.org.                                       grantmakers. Information on more than 200
                                                                    social-change grantmakers; tool kit for
•    Shows nonprofit boards how to establish an                     writing effective proposals, developing
     objective evaluation process of their                          fundraising strategies, and finding internet
     executive director. Explains who should                        resources; specifics on contacts, guidelines,
     conduct the evaluation, how to develop                         grant sizes, and areas of interest; indexing
     performance standards, and how to prepare                      by program/issue areas, geography, and
     and present the evaluation.                                    target populations

Finding Funding: The Comprehensive Guide to                     Grassroots Grants An Activist’s Guide to
Grant Writing (2002). Barber, Daniel M. Web                     Proposal Writing. Robinson, Andy.
citation: www.amazon.com.                                       Web citation:
                                                                www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/gr_grants.
Fundraising for Dummies. Mutz, John, and                        html.
Katherine Murray; Web citation:
www.amazon.com.                                                 How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation: With
                                                                Forms. Warda, Mark.
Fundraising for Social Change, Fourth edition,                  Web citation: www.amazon.com.
rev. and expanded. Klein, Kim. Web citation:
www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/principles.                How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters.
html.                                                           Warwick, Mal.
                                                                Web citation: www.amazon.com.
Fundraising for the Long Haul (New
Companion to Fundraising for Social Change).                    I'll Grant You That: A Step-By-Step Guide to
Klein, Kim. Web citation:                                       Finding Funds, Designing Winning Projects,
www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/flh_press.                 and Writing Powerful Proposals. Burke, Jim,
html.                                                           and Carol Ann Prater.
                                                                Web citation: www.amazon.com.




28
                                             Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



John Carver on Board Leadership. Carver,                     Sound Financial Management: An Overview of
John, and Sir Adrian Cadbury.                                Basic Accounting and Financial Principles for
Web citation: www.amazon.com.                                Nonprofit Community Development
                                                             Organizations. The Enterprise Foundation. Web
Leadership Skills for Board Members: A                       citation: www.enterprisefoundation.org
Guidebook for Board Members of Community
Development Organizations. The Enterprise                    •    Explains the elements of good financial
Foundation. Web citation:                                         management, including financial reporting,
www.enterprisefoundation.org.                                     internal controls, and tax-exempt status.

•   Offers nonprofit boards practical ideas on               Special Events: Proven Strategies for Nonprofit
    becoming more effective leaders in their                 Fund Raising. Wendroff, Alan L.
    organization. Helps to establish solid                   Web citation: www.amazon.com.
    operating procedures, resolve conflicts, and
    manage during difficult times.                           Starting and Managing a Nonprofit
                                                             Organization: A Legal Guide (Wiley Nonprofit
Managing the Non-Profit Organization:                        Law, Finance, and Management Series).
Principles and Practices. Drucker, Peter                     Hopkins, Bruce R. Web citation:
Ferdinand, et al. Paperback. Web citation:                   www.amazon.com.
www.amazon.com.
                                                             Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations:
Managing A Nonprofit Organization in the                     A Practical Guide and Workbook. Allison,
Twenty- First Century. Wolf, Thomas and                      Michael, et al. Web citation: www.amazon.com/
Barbara Carter. Web citation:
www.amazon.com.                                              Web sites
The Nonprofit Handbook. Grobman, Gary M.                     Actions Without Borders (www.idealist.org)
(Introduction) and Joe Geiger. Web citation:                 This site provides a searchable database of
www.amazon.com.                                              30,000 nonprofit Web sites, nonprofit news
                                                             sites, jobs and volunteer opportunities, and
Nonprofit Kit for Dummies (With CD-ROM).                     resources for nonprofit managers. The Web site
Hutton, Stan, and Frances Phillips. Web                      helps identify potential partners and funding for
citation: www.amazon.com.                                    centers.

Reinventing Your Board: A Step-By-Step Guide                 Community Resource Center
to Implementing Policy Governance (The                       (www.crcamerica.org)
Jossey-Bass Nonprofit Sector Series). Carver,                The Community Resource Center is a nonprofit
John, and Miriam Mayhew Carver.                              organization that provides leadership training,
Web citation: www.amazon.com.                                technical assistance, and consulting services to
                                                             individuals, nonprofit organizations, and
Roots of Justice: Stories of Organizing in                   community-based coalitions in Colorado and
Communities of Color. Salomon, Larry.                        throughout the United States. The Web site
Web citation:                                                contains links to Internet resources and
www.grassrootsfundraising.org/titles/                        programs for nonprofits.
roots.html.
                                                             Community Tool Box
The Self-Sustaining Nonprofit: Planning for                  (http://ctb.lsi.ukans.edu/)
Success: A Common Sense Guide from Start-Up                  Community Tool Box is a Web site created and
Through Year 3. Rutter, E. Jane. Web citation:               maintained by the University of Kansas Work
www.amazon.com                                               Group on Health Promotion and Community
                                                             Development in Lawrence, Kansas, and



                                                                                                                  29
Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



AHEC/Community Partners in Amherst,                             community development organizations, as well
Massachusetts.                                                  as many useful publications.

How-to tools explain in simple, friendly                        Fundsnet Online (www.fundsnetservices.com)
language the different tasks necessary for                      The Web site provides links to fundraising
community health and development. There are                     resources categorized by type (education,
sections on leadership, strategic planning,                     government, etc.), region, and state. The site
community assessment, capacity building,                        also includes grant centers.
advocacy, grant writing, and evaluation, among
others. Each section includes a description of                  GrassrootsFundraising.org
the task, advantages of doing it, step-by-step                  (www.grassrootsfundraising.org/index.html)
guidelines, examples, checklists of points to                   This Web site provides online resources from
review, and training materials.                                 the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and
                                                                ChardonPress.com. The Grassroots Fundraising
In addition, it contains links to helpful Web                   Journal helps nonprofit organizations learn how
pages and listservs in areas such as funding,                   to raise more money to support their important
health, education, and community issues; a                      work. The bimonthly Journal offers practical,
trouble shooting guide; and a community grant                   how-to instruction on fundraising strategies such
application for preparing requests for funders.                 as direct mail, special events, major gift
                                                                campaigns, and phone-a-thons, as well as tools
CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (formerly                       to help you build a board of directors that is
Support Center for Nonprofit Management)                        willing to raise money, choose a database to
(www.compasspoint.org)                                          track donors, manage your time effectively, and
CompassPoint is a nonprofit training,                           ultimately develop a successful fundraising
consulting, and research organization with                      program. Copublisher Kim Klein is a nationally
offices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.                    known fundraiser, trainer, and author (best
Through a broad range of services, it provides                  known for Fundraising for Social Change) who
nonprofits with the management tools, concepts,                 specializes in training organizations that are
and strategies necessary to shape change in their               working for social justice and have budgets of
communities. The mission of CompassPoint                        less than one million dollars. The Web site
Nonprofit Services is to increase the                           features archived journal articles, a catalog of
effectiveness and impact of people working and                  books and other publications, advice columns,
volunteering in the nonprofit sector. Its                       and an e-newsletter on fundraising and
leadership and services are local, regional, and                workshop schedules.
national in scope, and support the growth of an
effective nonprofit sector essential to healthy                 Guidestar (www.guidestar.org)
communities.                                                    Guidestar provides a free searchable database of
                                                                reports on the programs and finances of more
The Enterprise Foundation                                       than 850,000 nonprofit organizations. The site
(www.enterprisefoundation.org)                                  also features nonprofit news, organization
The foundation rebuilds communities by                          profiles, and short articles on giving.
working with partners (community-based
nonprofit organizations, state and local                        HandsNet (www.handsnet.org)
governments) to provide low-income people                       This Web site aims to bring the human services
with affordable housing, safer streets, and                     community online. It provides nonprofit news,
access to jobs and childcare. It seeks to help                  links, and nonprofit resources.
strengthen nonprofit organizations working in
community development. The Enterprise                           Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Foundation Web site includes a large database                   The IRS’ list of tax-exempt organizations is
of resources for low-income housing and                         available online at www.irs.ustreas.gov. You
                                                                can search or download the complete list of



30
                                           Lessons Learned in Starting and Operating a Neighborhood Networks Center



more than 500,000 tax-exempt organizations                 The database is a powerful tool for:
(use the “search forms and publications” box to
find “Publication 78”). This site also provides            •    Analyzing current trends and emerging
nonprofit tax information and downloadable IRS                  issues;
forms.
                                                           •    Networking with the people and
National Council of Nonprofit Associations                      organizations involved in implementation;
(NCNA) (www.ncna.org)
NCNA is a network of 37 state and regional                 •    Capacity-building including new knowledge
associations of nonprofits representing more                    management tools and methods;
than 21,000 nonprofits throughout the country.
This site lists nonprofit associations categorized         •    Technical cooperation through the matching
by state. Listings include contact information                  of supply with demand for proven expertise
and many Internet addresses.                                    and experience; and
Nonprofit Nuts & Bolts Online                              •    Policy development based on what works.
(www.nutsbolts.com)
This Web site is a one-stop resource for
                                                           U.S. Department of Housing’s Office of
nonprofits. The site links to organizations that
                                                           Planning and Community Development
include the Association for Volunteer
                                                           (www.hud.gov/whatwork.html)
Administration; information for nonprofits
                                                           HUD’s Office of Community Planning and
offering fundraising and grants information; the
                                                           Development maintains this Web site that links
National Center for Nonprofit Boards; and the
                                                           to a range of public, private, and nonprofit Web
U.S. Nonprofit Gateway that describes grants,
                                                           sites highlighting effective community
budget, and partnership information. The site
                                                           programs.
also links to nonprofit discussion sites.
                                                           VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org)
Philanthropy Journal Online
                                                           VolunteerMatch is a nonprofit, online service
(www.philanthropyjournal.org). The
                                                           that helps interested volunteers get involved
Philanthropy Journal is an online publication
                                                           with community service organizations
addressing philanthropy news, issues and
                                                           throughout the United States. Volunteers enter
organizations. Visitors can search for specific
                                                           their ZIP code on the VolunteerMatch Web site
articles that are updated weekly.
                                                           to quickly find local volunteer opportunities
                                                           matching individual interests and schedules.
Together Foundation/UN-HABITAT United
                                                           Organizations can register as a VolunteerMatch
Nations Human Settlements Programme
                                                           member in order to be referred to volunteers
This searchable database contains over 1,600
                                                           with matching interests and locations. This
proven solutions from more than 140 countries
                                                           simple, effective service has already generated
to the common social, economic, and
                                                           hundreds of thousands of volunteer referrals
environmental problems of an urbanizing world.
                                                           nationwide.
It demonstrates the practical ways in which
public, private and civil society sectors are
working together to improve governance,
eradicate poverty, provide access to shelter,
land, and basic services, protect the
environment, and support economic
development.




                                                                                                                31
32
         Neighborhood Networks Information
For more information about Neighborhood              •   Coordinators
Networks, visit the Web site at                          List of Neighborhood Networks coordinators.
www.NeighborhoodNetworks.org or contact the
Neighborhood Networks Information Center toll-       •   Resident Associations
free at (888) 312–2743, or TTY at (800) 483–             List of Neighborhood Networks properties
2209. The Web site contains valuable information         with active resident associations.
for centers including:
                                                     •   Senior Properties
Databases                                                List of senior properties with operational
                                                         Neighborhood Networks centers.
•   Centers
    Information about operating centers and those    Online Networking
    in planning stages. Neighborhood Networks        Talk with Neighborhood Networks staff and
    centers across the United States are listed      stakeholders via online networking.
    geographically by state.
                                                     Publications
•   News
    Articles, press releases, success stories, and   •   Fact sheets. Fact sheets are one-page
    grand openings relevant to Neighborhood              summaries of various topics relevant to the
    Networks.                                            operations of Neighborhood Network centers.
                                                         Fact sheets currently available include an
•   Properties                                           overview of the initiative, telehealth
    Information about Neighborhood Networks              programs, health information, health
    properties, listed geographically by state.          partnerships, childcare, transportation,
                                                         seniors, and community improvements at
•   Resources                                            Neighborhood Network centers.
    Information about funding, technical
    assistance, publications, and Web site           •   Network News (current and past issues). A
    resources.                                           quarterly newsletter that highlights national
                                                         achievements for a wide audience, including
Lists                                                    partners and the public.

•   Conferences                                      •   NNewsline (current and past issues). A
    Calendar of conferences and training events.         quarterly newsletter that highlights topics of
                                                         interest to Neighborhood Networks centers
•   Consortia                                            and coordinators.
    List of Neighborhood Networks consortia.




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EQUAL HOUSING
OPPORTUNITY

								
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