Neighborhood Allies “Complete Capital” at Work On The Ground: LCG Capacity Building1 Comment
Since its formation in 2009, the all-volunteer, community-led Larimer Consensus Group (LCG) has provided a strong voice for residents in decisions about development in the Larimer community.
Over the past seven years, the LCG has undertaken an award-winning process of comprehensive community planning and have established a vision for Larimer to become Pittsburgh’s greenest community. In the summer of 2014, Larimer was awarded a highly competitive $30 million Choice Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy for the community.
Up until 2014, the LCG operated as an un-staffed organization, capitalizing and relying on the guidance and capacity of strong local partners including the Kingsley Association, to help fulfill their mission. With the news of the Choice award, the LCG found itself at a crossroads. To fully achieve its mission and vision and remain a significant partner in the resurgence of Larimer, the LCG sought funding support and technical expertise from Neighborhood Allies to fund their first staff position and expand the organization’s capacity.
In late 2014, the LCG was awarded a Catalytic Grant from Neighborhood Allies to create and support the organization’s first staff person–a full-time Neighborhood Improvement Specialist, who would be responsible for managing the immediate obligations related to the $30 million Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant (CNIG) while continuing to implement and activate the goals of the Vision Plan and advocate and represent the residents of Larimer. No small task for one staff person.
In June 2015, Stanley Holbrook was hired as the Neighborhood Improvement Specialist at LCG. Stanley brings over 20 years of experience, 3 masters degrees and a wealth of knowledge of and passion for community building.
“I have a real passion to work in community and with the residents of the community and an even larger passion to be a transformational agent of change. I started my work career working in and with the community. I grew up in Lincoln Lemington area and I am very familiar with the disinvestment in Larimer as well as in Lemington. I guess my goal is to insure there is equitable benefits and opportunities for the residents of the Larimer community. I hope to be the extra eyes and ears that the community needs to accomplish this goal.” -Stanley Holbrook
Stanley hit the ground running when he started at LCG earlier this summer. He’s created an extensive scope of work for the organization that he and the Board of Directors will be working on implementing a over the next few years. Some of the top priorities are:
Become a 501c3 tax exempt organization
Build a defined governance infrastructure that will support, direct and grow the organization (this requires transitioning the from an all volunteer organization)
Continue to “Lead” the development of the community
Development of an annual operating budget and identification of resources to fund the budget
Continue to engage the residents of Larimer and to ensure residents benefit from every aspect of the development
Expand LCG membership
Successfully complete LCG’s Choice neighborhood requirements while staying focused on the Larimer Vision to Action Plan
Let’s Be Allies: The partnership between LCG and Neighborhood Allies
In order for us to be a sound and inspiring funder and partner, and see real results and lives being changed as a result of our investments, we recognize that we need to do much more than just provide a grant. When Neighborhood Allies launched in 2014, we developed a unique and engaging approach to making investments in communities–one that encourages creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. We are a unique community development partner; part funder, lender, connector and consultant. Our approach is based on first listening and establishing a relationship with our grantees and understanding the needs and desires of residents. We then marshal a network of financial resources and expertise to leverage local funders investments and make neighborhoods a better place for everyone.
This approach has worked particularly well in Larimer–we have worked alongside the LCG, as allies, from the very beginning, to support and nurture their efforts in any way that we can to ensure they are set up to succeed. From crafting the job description and title for the eventual staff person, to helping the LCG Board understand how to manage, guide and utilize a staff person effectively, and creating a strong organizational structure that maximizes board members, partners, paid staff and volunteers capacity–we’re there for LCG as not only a funder, but a partner.
In addition to our $68,000 catalytic grant, we have also worked with the LCG on:
- A facilitated and sponsored connection to the Hill Group, a management consulting firm, to help the LCG improve their governance structure, policies, procedures and other critical organizational infrastructure. Value $15,000.
- Staff assistance with fundraising efforts to access critical dollars for operating support.
- A convening of quarterly meetings between the LCG, local leading funders and city agencies to draw greater coordination, resources and support to Larimer’s community building efforts.
Today, the LCG is poised to grow into a sustainable and trusted community asset, long after the Choice project is complete. We’re proud to be a partner and supporter of Larimer and the LCG.
About LCG: Established as a first outcome of the 2008 Larimer Community Plan, the LCG serves as a citizen-driven forum for neighborhood planning, implementation, and transformation. The work of the LCG is complemented by the Larimer Action Teams, community-led partners who focus on visible outcomes and action –getting projects done in the neighborhood while the larger, long-term planning initiatives are in progress.