Public Works Partners was proud to participate in the Change Capital Fund (CCF) Forum, Smart Organizations/Strong Neighborhoods, on February 28.  The Forum provided reflection and provoked discussion on CCF-funded community development corporations and their impact on poverty in New York City.  We joined the four CDC grantees: Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Fifth Avenue Committee, New Settlement Apartments, and St. Nick’s Alliance, to discuss their successful outcomes and lessons learned from measuring and scaling their impact in reducing poverty in their neighborhoods.

We have been working with CCF, a collaborative of 17 funders dedicated to improving economic mobility in New York City neighborhoods, since the planning year of its current cohort’s four-year cycle. The Fund provides the four CDCs with substantial support, including technical assistance, to help these neighborhood organizations establish the systems and capacity to measure impact. Public Works supported the grantees to develop common metrics across organizations to assess and share the impact of their workforce development, adult education, youth education, and affordable housing strategies.

At the forum, keynote speaker Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Hermania Palacio, noted that poverty is not just about individuals and a temporary state, but rather affects entire families and communities that have been stuck in cycles for decades. As a response, the City is committed to helping 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty by 2025. Other speakers noted that to reach this goal, pathways need to be created so that all 800,000 can not only escape the cycle of poverty, but also excel in their endeavors – a large role CDCs can play.

Building off this theme, Public Works Partners CEO Celeste Frye moderated a panel, “How to best leverage NYC’s Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to reduce poverty,” with the Executive Directors of the four grantees. The discussion revolved around the unique role of CDCs and their work in grass roots mobilizing and advocacy to create system changes around issues that communities, families, and individuals face. The three R’s (Roots, Resources, and Relationships) are key to these place-based organizations in order to establish credibility, retain the resources and facilities to serve their constituents, and gain mutual trust and respect.

The Executive Directors also discussed opportunities that can help CBOs reach everyone that can benefit from their programs. Their responses reflected the value they found from being part of CCF, including funding for operations and technical assistance (something commonly left out of non-profit funding); program-specific funding, such as providing opportunities to youth who need support in pursuing jobs, job training, and/or post-secondary education; and a massive commitment to  collaboration between economic development, education, and workforce development to lift everyone out of poverty.

We want to thank the panelists for sharing their insights: Michelle Neugebauer, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation; Michelle de la Uz, Fifth Avenue Committee; Jack Doyle, New Settlement Apartments; Michael Rochford, St. Nick’s Alliance.

To learn more about Change Capital Fund, explore their reports here.