The last quarter of 2023 was a whirlwind tour across various cities in the United States - from the vibrant streets of Washington, D.C., to the lively neighborhoods of New Orleans, the flourishing businesses in Grand Rapids, the dynamic initiatives in Dallas, the policy discussions in Montgomery, and the impactful gatherings in the heart of New York City. This journey has been a remarkable opportunity to fill my cup, soaking in inspiration from dynamic organizations and individuals all dedicated to fostering communities of opportunity. In this blog, I'll share some highlights from my travels and the invaluable insights gained along the way.
Innovative Strategies in Washington, D.C.:
During my time in Washington, D.C., I engaged in discussions with Center Creek Capital, exploring innovative strategies and touring affordable housing developments. It was a deep dive into the mechanisms that drive community development, setting the stage for the enlightening experiences to follow.
The Power of Place Conference in New Orleans:
The Power of Place Conference in New Orleans, presented by the William Julius Winston Institute and Harlem Children Zone, provided a platform for meaningful dialogue. The key takeaway was the importance of understanding people before aiming for goals and metrics. Solutions, I learned, must match the scale of the problem. Additionally, a visit to the Bayou District Foundation showcased a cradle-to-career pathway, exemplifying intentional efforts to create economic mobility and provided an opportunity for me to hear from some dynamic keynote speakers from the Biden Administration.
Community-Centric Economic Development in Grand Rapids:
Grand Rapids became the backdrop for our Annual Leadership convening hosted by AmplifyGR. Here, the focus was on community-centric economic development. Witnessing the growth of businesses and their positive impact on the community was nothing short of phenomenal.
Jubilee Park's Holistic Approach in Dallas:
Dallas stood out as a favorite with a visit to Jubilee Park, led by the dynamic Marissa Castro. Their community walk-alongs, engagement with residents, and initiatives in community policing and public safety were commendable. Jubilee Park's commitment to holistic well-being, including a high-quality medical clinic, left a lasting impression.
Policy Shaping in Montgomery:
Montgomery provided a platform for discussing government partnerships and policy shaping at the Southeast Philanthropy Conference. Recognizing policy changes as a significant opportunity for lasting community change, the conference emphasized the vital role of philanthropy in advocacy work.
Federal Reserve Gathering in NYC:
In the bustling city of New York, the Federal Reserve hosted leaders from across the nation to discuss creating opportunity-rich communities and facilitating impact investment. The discussions revolved around absorbing capital into communities, and a design team session explored opportunities for impact investments at a community level. The focus was on adjusting tools in community development to pave the way for self-sufficient communities.
To sum it all up, the journey through the final weeks of 2023 was a profound experience filled with insights and inspiration from practitioners dedicated to community development. Each city contributed to the mosaic of knowledge, from innovative strategies and community-centric economic development to policy shaping and impactful gatherings. As we continue the collective effort towards creating opportunity-rich communities, these experiences serve as guideposts, reminding us that community development, economic development, policy-in-action, impact investment, and place matters.