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  • Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families




  • Voices from the Field II

    Reflections on Comprehensive

    Community Change


    Anne C. Kubisch

    Patricia Auspos

    Prudence Brown

    Robert Chaskin

    Karen Fulbright-Anderson

    Ralph Hamilton

  • Copyright © 2002 by The Aspen Institute

    The Aspen Institute

    One Dupont Circle, NW

    Washington, DC 20036

    All rights reserved.

    ISBN: 0-89843-351-7

    INV No.: 02-031

    To purchase additional copies of this report, please contact:

    The Aspen Institute

    Fulfillment Office

    P.O. Box 222

    109 Houghton Lab Lane

    Queenstown, MD 21658

    Phone: (410) 820-5338

    Fax: (410) 827-9174

    E-mail: publications@aspeninstitute.org

  • Acknowledgements iv

    About the Authors vi

    Introduction 1

    Chapter I 9 Communities and Community Change

    Chapter II 21 The Core Principles of Comprehensiveness and Community Building

    Chapter III 34 Strengthening the Capacities and Connections of Community Residents

    Chapter IV 45 Strengthening the Capacities and Connections of Community Institutions

    Chapter V 61 Strengthening the System of Supports

    Chapter VI 78 Strengthening the Connections between Communities and External Resources

    Conclusion 100 A Call to Action

    Appendix I 104 Members of the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives

    Appendix II 107 Meeting Participants and Others Interviewed For Voices from the Field II

    Appendix III 111 For Further Reading


  • lthough 10 people led the process for reaching the

    conclusions presented here, in many ways it was the 63 peo-

    ple who participated in our interviews and meetings who

    “wrote” this book. (See Appendix II for a list of participants.) We are

    grateful to them for sharing their time and wisdom and hope that

    they find their voices represented in this final product.

    Support from the following philanthropies made this project

    possible: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Edna McConnell Clark

    Foundation, Ford Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett

    Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson

    Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,

    The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and The Rockefeller

    Foundation. We are grateful for their financial and intellectual

    support of all of our work.

    Editor Leila Fiester helped weave our ideas together and make

    them clear to many types of readers. Thebe Street Works in Minne-

    apolis created the design and layout.

    Finally, the Aspen Roundtable staff benefit from incredible

    leadership and support. The Co-chairs of the Roundtable—Harold



  • Richman and Lisbeth Schorr—provide inspiration, wisdom, and

    oversight to all of the staff ’s activities. The Roundtable’s Admin-

    istrative Assistant, Ivett Colon, ensured that all of the pieces of this

    complicated project actually worked. We are fortunate to have the

    three of them as colleagues.



  • his book is the product of collaboration between the

    Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives of the

    Aspen Institute and the Chapin Hall Center for Children at

    the University of Chicago. A 10-member team defined the scope of

    work, conducted interviews, facilitated meetings, reviewed other

    research on relevant topics, analyzed the information, and identified

    the key messages to present. The team, with authors indicated by an

    asterisk, included:

    e Andrea Anderson, Aspen Roundtable

    e Patricia Auspos, Aspen Roundtable*

    e Prudence Brown, Chapin Hall*

    e Robert Chaskin, Chapin Hall*

    e Karen Fulbright-Anderson, Aspen Roundtable*

    e Ralph Hamilton, Chapin Hall*

    About the Authors


  • e Anne Kubisch, Aspen Roundtable*

    e Harold Richman, Chapin Hall and Co-chair of the Aspen Roundtable

    e Lisbeth Schorr, Co-chair of the Aspen Roundtable

    e Khatib Waheed, Aspen Roundtable

    The Aspen Roundtable is a forum in which people affiliated with

    current community-change efforts meet to share the experiences, les-

    sons, and problems of their work. (See Appendix I for a list of

    Roundtable members.) The Roundtable publishes and disseminates

    information about progress, challenges, and trends in the field of

    social and community change, and this book is part of that effort. The

    Roundtable’s other work includes a project on how to evaluate, meas-

    ure, and learn from community change efforts and a project to

    increase understanding of the ways in which structural racism affects

    poor communities and their prospects for revitalization. For more

    information about the Roundtable and its publications, see


    The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago

    is a research and development center focusing on policies, practices,

    and programs affecting children and the families and communities in

    which they live. Chapin Hall provides research and technical assis-

    tance to federal, state, and municipal governments on a spectrum of

    issues including service system use, performance-based contracting,

    and measurement of child well-being. With both public and private

    support, Chapin Hall examines, evaluates, and documents public

    institutions and private initiatives that seek to support child and

    youth development and build the capacity of neighborhoods, com-

    munity organizations, schools, and families to care for their children.

    For more information about Chapin Hall, see www.chapin.uchicago.edu.



  • n the late 1980s, a new generation of community-based

    anti-poverty ventures began. These efforts, which incorporated

    lessons learned from 30 years of public-sector and philanthropic

    investment in social change, became known as comprehensive com-

    munity initiatives (CCIs).

    CCIs typically are multi-year enterprises located in poor, urban

    communities where physical and economic decline, social isolation,

    and political disempowerment are the norm. Their leaders and par-

    ticipants have sought to improve neighborhood conditions and the

    well-being of individuals and families by applying two principles:

    e Comprehensiveness—an attempt to maximize the likelihood of achieving positive results by simultaneously addressing the social,

    economic, and physical conditions of a neighborhood; and

    e Community building—an emphasis on participatory processes that develop leadership, enhance “social capital” and personal

    networks, and strengthen a community’s capacity for improvement.



  • In 1997, the Aspen Roundtable on Comprehensive Community

    Initiatives distilled early lessons and emerging conclusions from the

    practices of CCIs during their first years. Drawing on information

    gleaned from focus groups with 94 different stakeholders—residents,

    program directors, funders, technical assistance providers, and evalu-

    ators—Voices from the Field: Learning from the Early Work of

    Comprehensive Community Initiatives described the overall function-

    ing of CCIs and highlighted the fundamental challenges in their

    design and implementation. That volume (hereafter referred to as

    Voices from the Field I) was intended to synthesize then-current think-

    ing and provoke useful discussion about the goals, approaches, and

    dynamics of community change.

    Now, five years later, we can begin to weave the ongoing experi-

    ence of CCIs into the fabric of knowledge about community change

    that comes from a broad array of initiatives, approaches, and activi-

    ties—efforts that are all in some way about “community building”

    and “comprehensive community improvement.” Together, these

    constitute a loosely defined, informal field of work, with some shared

    goals for community change and some common principles that guide

    action. The threads represented by CCIs offer lessons that reinforce,

    modify, and add to the experiences of other approaches. Collectively,

    they can increase our knowledge base about what it takes to substan-

    tially improve struggling neighborhoods and the quality of life

    within them. With this volume, we review the current state of these

    community-change efforts, synthesize what we know about their

    potential and their limitations, extract lessons about effective strate-

    gies, and propose a framework to guide future action.

    As with Voices from the Field I, we began with practitioners’ per-

    spectives, derived from interviews and two interactive meetings of 63

    people—drawn, once again, from a cross-section of key stakeholders

    in community change but representing a wider range of organiza-

    tions, including CCIs, service organizations, community development

    corporations (CDCs), E