Community transformation demands a mosaic of resources, and one of the most important is knowledge—especially when it comes to understanding how government policy has shaped racial and income inequality in our neighborhoods. That’s why LISC Milwaukee has been sponsoring community book groups (90 in all) to read "The Color of Law" by Richard Rothstein, an indispensable narrative of how federal and local legislation created and enforced racial segregation across America over the course of the 20th century. To celebrate this community learning effort, Richard Rothstein visited Milwaukee to speak to residents and local leaders about his book and strategies for reversing segregation.
In this week’s Stanford Social Innovation Review, LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones takes a close look at the outcomes from one of the largest single-city community development efforts in the country, the decade-long New Communities Program (NCP) in Chicago. Most notable, Jones writes, is data on community networks and how closely they connect to local growth and opportunity. The evidence confirms what community developers have long assumed but previously never proven: a durable local infrastructure of nonprofits, businesses, and other stakeholders is able to both attract and absorb capital in ways that measurably improve residents’ quality of life.
LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones takes a hopeful look at the future in an interview with Philanthropy News Digest, pointing to the wealth of untapped talent in American communities as evidence that there are gains yet to come. "The question is, what do we do as a society to ensure that these people are able to fulfill their promise?” For LISC, that includes a range of local investments, from employment skills training to entrepreneurship to affordable housing development, all of which help expand economic opportunity and support a good quality of life.
In recent decades, the historically under-invested Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco has had few opportunities to offer its youth. But a creative new program, “Project Wreckless,” is enlisting at-risk young people to rehab classic cars, and offers job training, scholarships and mentoring to boot. All in a formerly abandoned ex-factory that’s beginning to look pretty spiffy, thanks in part to a façade grant from LISC.
As a teenager, Da’Quan Wilson was homeless, sleeping in friends’ apartments, at relatives’ homes and even in a cemetery. Today, he works as a “Community Connector” with LISC Philadelphia partner People’s Emergency Center (PEC), reaching out to young people who may be undergoing the same sorts of challenges he once did. In our increasingly digital age, community connectors meet people face-to-face, to share information about resources, build neighborhood connection and invite community participation. Many become local leaders in the process.