On September 23, 2021, the St. Louis, Missouri-based national non-profit Urban Strategies, Inc., (USI) announced the expansion of its Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) Community of Practice. The initiative will support more than 100 participating cities in developing and implementing comprehensive, locally driven plans to revitalize housing in their communities.
“USI is committed to managing the Community of Practice Initiative through an equity and results lens where CNI sites have a voice in setting their priorities. The primary objectives of the Initiative are to increase the capacity of partnering organizations and to influence changes in federal, state and local policy, removing structural and technical and adaptive barriers to social and economic mobility for low-wealth families while revitalizing communities,” said Esther Shin, president of USI.
Through the federal Choice Neighborhoods program under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), USI has leveraged more than $14 billion in public and private dollars as well as philanthropic funds to support redeveloping distressed public or assisted housing and spur comprehensive neighborhood revitalization, particularly in communities of color.
The initiative will target current CNI grantee cities (99 planning and 40 implementation grantees) while working with local leaders, community stakeholders such as city governments and public housing authorities, and residents, to create and implement plans to revitalize housing.
USI seeks to contribute to developing the knowledge base of best practices and processes for community revitalization and provide data-driven strategies to improve outcomes for low-wealth families and communities of color and done through a racial equity lens.
As part of this work, USI is expanding its “community of practice” among grantees in which they interact regularly through peer learning exchanges, evidence-to-action labs, and direct resources. Through this peer network, grantees can collaborate on local innovations, discuss persistent challenges, create shared priorities, and influence policies that address inequities at local, regional, and national levels.
The USI system receives funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. USI also recognizes the Annie E. Casey Foundation for supporting USI’s implementation of an organization-wide results-oriented approach to accelerate measurable and equitable improvements in outcomes for young people and families that will be used to support this effort.
USI is a national nonprofit with extensive experience in developing and implementing people-centered strategies in communities that are undergoing comprehensive physical revitalization. USI partners in 38 communities in 22 cities/territories while working with community partners to develop economic opportunities, cradle-to-college/career success, high quality health services and a range of comprehensive service supports.
USI is an organization of color led by people of color seeking equitable results for children and families.