Lessons Learned from the Implementation of the Neighborhood and Family Initiative: A Summary of Findings

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Robert J. Chaskin

This 35-page report provides a summary of findings and lessons learned by the Neighborhood and Family Initiative (NFI), a comprehensive community initiative launched by the Ford Foundation that began in 1990. NFI was a 10-year effort that sought to strengthen a single neighborhood in each of four cities and to improve the quality of life for the families who live in them. The report is divided into two sections; the first provides a brief overview of NFI while the second section distills the lessons learned by NFI over the course of implementation. The first section discusses the initiative structure and the principles proposed by the Ford Foundation that were to guide planning and implementation in NFI.  One principle focuses on comprehensive change while the other focuses on relationships and community building through organizational collaboration and citizen participation. The second section addresses the kinds of program outputs and the nature of neighborhood change that NFI promoted, which differed from site to site. NFI provided services that connected residents to jobs, engaged in physical revitalization, helped leverage resources, supported existing and created new organizations, helped develop local leadership, and built new relationships. In most cases, the programs supported and changes achieved were at a very small scale. The second section of the report also includes a section on evaluation (pages 22-30). The lessons learned could be applied to all kinds of organizations and offers practical guidance on collaboration.

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