Crossing Over to An Improved Era of Community Development

Eric Belsky, Jennifer Fauth

W12-7: The field of community development is at an inflection point, poised to achieve scale, impact, and integration of the many lessons learned over the past 40 years. It is on the threshold of entering a new phase capable of meeting the twin goals of revitalizing low-income neighborhoods and narrowing achievement gaps of the poor. The field is well positioned to enter this more productive phase as a result of decades of capacity and network building, creating partnerships with private capital providers and public stakeholders, success in innovating with new programs and attracting private capital, and drawing on lessons learned about what approaches work best to produce the strongest outcomes. However, significant challenges lie ahead. These challenges range from the battle for resources to the need to devise cost-effective ways of measuring social impact, from promoting greater cooperation among key private stakeholders to forging new public-private-philanthropic partnerships, and from nurturing smaller innovative community developers to consolidating organizations when it is in the best interest of the community.

Note: This paper appeared in the book Investing in What Works for America’s Communities, a joint project of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund.