LISC National

Communities Learning Together from Each Other

By Hillary Copsey

Money matters, but so does support.

And the organizations that receive funds from Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky say the support LISC provides is vital to their missions. LISC offers expert resources and training that helps organizations build capacity, and it gathers organizations together to share best practices and discuss regional concerns.

Monthly peer luncheons are one regular support system provided by LISC that organizations say they couldn't do without. Groups working in each of Greater Cincinnati's Place Matters communities gather each month to hear about a program, strategy or initiative working well for one organization, share concerns and ideas, and hear from LISC staff members about regionwide projects.

“It's always good to see people and to hear from people working on similar issues,” said Alexis Kidd, executive director of Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, which serves Cincinnati's West End.

Karin Maney, the executive director of CBI Middletown, was invited to share how her organization had grown through community partnerships to serve Middletown families “from cradle to graduation.” Although she was excited to share CBI's story, Maney said she also was eager to hear from organizations tackling business and community development in communities like Walnut Hills and Price Hill.

“I wanted to say, 'I want to learn from you guys!'” Maney said.

At another lunch, Sister Barbara Busch presented on Working in Neighborhoods' initiative to get South Cumminsville out of poverty in one generation. Again, the importance of partnerships came up.

“The trick to this is not doing it yourself,” Busch said. “You can't do everything yourself. … There's no way WIN could get people out of poverty ourselves. We needed partners to do that.”

Creating real relationships with residents is another theme that comes up often at these luncheons. Busch talked about how WIN worked hard not to alienate residents who already were trying to improve their community.

“The last thing we want to say to them is what you've done is wrong,” Busch said. “We want to say what you've done is right — and now how do we move it forward.”

At another lunch, Rachel Hastings with the Center for Great Neighborhoods in Covington offered tips for engaging resident committees. The role of a community development organization can be to help shift people from dreams to plans and strategies, Hastings said. They can help provide capacity to apply for grants and other resources. But they can't and shouldn’t force a solution or an idea on a group of residents.

“If we went down that path,” Hastings said. “We'd immediately lose trust with those residents.”

Listen. Be patient. Be creative. So often this is the advice shared at the luncheons. People nod. They scribble notes when they think a solution might work in their own community. They grab people before they leave, seeking out new partnerships that might not have happened if everyone stayed at work in their own neighborhood.

But the luncheons are more than just advice and networking. They also give LISC an opportunity to share resources and training...

The 3Cs Mapping Project, created by Loveland Technologies and funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, allows organizations to layer existing property and census data on a map, along with survey data created and collected through a custom app. Thanks to LISC, organizations across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky now have access to this tool.

“We'd heard of it and were excited about it, but we would never have started using it on our own,” said Jay Kratz, real estate development director for Price Hill Will.

Place Matters is a place-based investment strategy supporting comprehensive community development to enhance quality of life and strengthen community and civic engagement. An ongoing partnership between the funders’ collaborative and neighborhood collaborative working collectively for community transformation.