An FHLBank Pittsburgh Revitalization Initiative
In partnership with the University of Delaware Center for Community Research and
The Blueprint Communities initiative is based on the idea that core (older, established)
communities often lack the vision, planning, capacity and/or resources needed to
accomplish meaningful community revitalization.
The goal of Blueprint Communities is to serve as a catalyst for revitalization resulting in
sustainable, healthy communities by:
Energizing local leaders
Facilitating holistic community planning, and
Encouraging public and private investment
The Blueprint Communities initiative is designed to encourage communities to approach
revitalization holistically by considering the physical, economic and social needs of their
Blueprint Communities emphasizes the importance of a team approach to community
revitalization. It envisions a team of committed like-minded stakeholders dedicated to
improving their community with the skills and direction to effect positive change.
Focusing on such fundamentals as leadership, community capacity, goal setting and
strategic planning, the revitalization training that is a key part of the initiative will provide
the necessary base for communities to begin to grow and prosper.
Your community may be eligible if…
The Blueprint Communities initiative is designed for “emerging” communities – those that
show a reasonable level of aptitude, solid local leadership and a strong desire for
advancement, but have not yet seen sustainable success.
A community’s readiness for this initiative is based on many factors including leadership
and general community capacity. As a starting point, communities interested in
participating in the Blueprint Communities initiative should assess where they are along
the Community Type spectrum illustrated in Figure A.
Figure A: Community Type – based on classifications published by The
Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia, PA
Emerging/Target - Blueprint Communities
Reclamation Distressed Transitional Steady Regional Choice
Reclamation-communities include the oldest housing, show substantial physical
deterioration, and have very little commercial presence. These are the
neighborhoods in disarray and in need of complete reclamation and large
amounts of public investment over a substantial period of time.
Distressed-communities have little value in housing stock, with large numbers of
demolitions and vacant structures. The community may have a struggling or
barely surviving commercial corridor. These communities need significant help.
However, based on the community assets that are in place, revitalization will take
time but is not impossible.
Transitional-communities have a mixed quality housing stock, vacant or blighted
properties, mixed ownership and a struggling but surviving commercial corridor.
Strategies to assist these communities include replacement of housing stock,
new construction and rehabilitation on a medium scale with a significant scale
needed for impact. These communities are on the edge of success, but without
proper leadership and focus they will not succeed and develop in a
Steady-communities have good housing stock with a mix of rental and
ownership. The value of the housing stock and commercial corridor attracts
investment in the community. These communities have the leadership to
undertake investment and attract private markets to develop. They are not as
established as the Regional Choice communities, but do not typically have
difficulties in developing.
Regional Choice-communities have high housing values with a mix of
homeownership and rental opportunities. These communities may have a
commercial district that is vibrant and successful. These communities are the
clear investment areas for the private market; they have good leadership that
promotes growth and sound policy for future development. They have a clear
vision and community support.
In terms of eligible “Community Type”, communities in the midrange – those likely
classified as Distressed or Transitional communities (possibly some classified as
Steady) – are the primary focus for the Blueprint Communities initiative. These are
communities that with a reasonable amount of assistance are likely to move toward the
high end of the community typology.
Some communities may not be ready for this initiative. These include communities that
are in such disrepair or that possess significant, pervasive problems (Reclamation) that
the only way to succeed is a large-scale intervention to stem the pervasive issue, and
significant investment and redevelopment over a long period of time. These Reclamation
communities may require more intensive interventions than what is proposed under the
Blueprint Communities initiative.
Some communities may not need Blueprint Communities. Those that are Regional
Choice and/or that already have the capacity to undertake holistic planning and
development and those that have been doing so (i.e. high-end Steady, Regional Choice)
will likely not benefit from the Blueprint Communities training. These communities have
the market savvy and expertise to succeed without additional training.
Beyond consideration of community “type” the following eligibility criteria will be used to
select communities for participation in Blueprint Communities:
“Community” for purposes of Blueprint Communities eligibility is defined broadly
and may include neighborhoods within a municipality, a single municipality or
unincorporated place, or multiple, contiguous municipalities or unincorporated
In terms of size, eligible communities must have a population between 500 and
Eligible communities have not completed a community vision that includes a
holistic strategy within the last two years. Please see the section on
“Planning” for more details.
Selected communities must demonstrate local leadership, have basic
development capacity and possess opportunity for development and
Finally, to meet the Blueprint Communities focus on teamwork, a community
must be able to put together a diverse team of eight community leaders
committed to attending applicable training sessions and advancing the welfare of
What communities must do to participate…
Recruit an eight-member community team that at a minimum must include:
An FHLBank Pittsburgh member institution
An organization with development capacity
A nonprofit organization with a mission to support community development
A representative of local government
The remaining four members of the team may include other key stakeholders in the
community with an interest in community revitalization, such as:
community planners & developers
religious and civic leaders
community & economic development practitioners
young people between the ages of 15 and 20
The eight selected for the Blueprint Communities must commit to the Blueprint training
process and completing six to seven days of training and all related fieldwork
assignments between training sessions. They will also need to obtain a letter of support
from their organization’s CEO or executive director.
Additionally, participating community teams must:
Obtain a resolution of support from the local governing body or a letter from the chief
executive of the local governing body, recognizing the team members and supporting
their participation in Blueprint Communities.
One of the team representatives must be designated as the team’s lead contact.
They lead contact must be associated with an organization with sufficient capacity to
support the lead contact and the entire team throughout the Blueprint process.
Contribute $500 as a registration fee, which upon successful completion of Blueprint
Communities, will be contributed to a local foundation or bank account for community
Commit, in writing, to perform all tasks associated with team “homework” assigned in
conjunction with the training sessions.
Achieve at least a 75% attendance record throughout the formal training sessions.
Note: Each team is permitted one designated alternate member who is available to
replace another team member if necessary. The alternate cannot replace the
FHLBank member institution representative.
It is vital that the team be truly representative in nature. The stronger the team, the
easier it will be to take action for community improvement when the training is
completed. Each team structure will vary since communities themselves vary so widely.
Key characteristics in recruiting a team
The team should engage a variety of ages, old and young (a high school student is
Both men and women should be represented.
The team should have balance between newly established and longtime residents.
The team should reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of your community or
Team members who represent important institutions like a major employer, a health
care clinic, hospital, nursing home, church or school are welcome.
A member of the local media may also serve as part of the team.
Leadership is the primary determinant for success. Strong community leadership is an
essential element to motivating the team and achieving goals. Leadership may come
from a variety of sources within the community, such as a municipal community
development director, redevelopment authority manager or someone in an executive
position in a relatively established community-based organization. The leader must have
the support of his/her board and a core team of stakeholders to move the process
To increase the likelihood of success, Blueprint Communities teams should involve
established or emerging leaders.
Capacity relates to the community possessing the wherewithal to implement the strategy
and to undertake activities and projects. Development capacity at a basic level must
exist for communities to succeed. It is a core ingredient. A Blueprint Communities team
must identify at least one organization or agency that has a fundamental capacity to
successfully complete housing/community development projects.
Community participation, consensus building and strong communication must be part of
the process. People in the community should know that planning is taking place,
participate in the process, and play a key role in identifying challenges, forming the
vision and developing potential solutions. The connection between the community
residents to the leadership and the core team enhances the chances for success.
The community must have buy-in from the residents and other local institutions. These
may include local officials, government agencies, consultants and other community
development corporations. A community that is well connected to outside sources will be
able to accomplish greater feats than it will by going it alone. A Blueprint Communities
team must demonstrate cohesive working relationships among local residents,
organizations and institutions.
Community planning is the process of systematically thinking through community-based
assets and challenges, and it includes strong participation by residents to define a vision
for their community and a strategy for its implementation. Community planning paves the
way for the most efficient use of scarce resources. The plan identifies the highest
priorities for the community and the resources that will be directed toward those
priorities. It devises goals and activities to address problems as well as developing
opportunities for growth.
The Blueprint Communities training focuses on the importance of taking a holistic
approach to community revitalization. The training offers a step-by-step process that will
guide participants in developing their own holistic plan.
The holistic plan includes all aspects of the community including economic development,
housing, social issues, public infrastructure/facilities, capacity building, wealth creation,
etc. The Plan may include elements of a Comprehensive/Land Use plan, but the holistic
plan is typically broader in scope. It is a broad-based, action oriented approach to
creating a sustainable, healthy community and includes goals, activities, outcomes and
The Blueprint training emphasizes action oriented activities that move towards meeting
the community’s goals. Activities are actions taken to achieve a goal or desired outcome.
These may include variety of activities, for example; a Main Street initiative, housing
rehabilitation, an entrepreneurship program, youth development initiatives or the creation
of a community festival.
If a community has a comprehensive, holistic plan (approved within the past two years)
in place and is implementing the strategies laid out in the plan, that community will not
be considered for the Blueprint Communities initiative unless it can be demonstrated that
the plan is insufficient or limited in scope (i.e., not a holistic plan).
The community training provided by Blueprint Communities lays out the framework for
community planning and implementation. Communities that have not participated in a
planning process, or those that have outdated or inadequate plans, are prime candidates
for the Blueprint Communities initiative.