|Welcome to the first edition of the Urban Initiative's newsletter!
Since taking on the role of Project Manager at the end of this summer, I've been spending a lot of time meeting with community leaders to determine a course that is aligned with needs and existing efforts in our region's cities. During these conversations, I kept finding myself fielding questions like:
- "What is the Urban Initiative?"
- "What do you do?"
- "Where can I find more information on ?"
- "How can we work together?"
It quickly became clear that in order to provide meaningful support, we needed to first find an accessible means of communication to answer questions like these. But it was also apparent that one of the most valuable things the Urban Initiative can continue to do is to facilitate informed conversations about urban policy in our region's Gateway Cities. Our blog and this newsletter are important steps in this direction, responding to the need for a streamlined source of news stories, research, events, and opportunities that we think will be useful to people who join us in our commitment to the vitality of cities like New Bedford and Fall River.
Of course, the utility of these efforts depends on our ability to supply relevant, dynamic content that targets your needs. Please help us do our job effectively by contributing your feedback, ideas, and even events or opportunities you'd like to see listed next month. We look forward to hearing from you!
|In an era of increased competition for grant funding, it has become critical for organizations to shift their focus from outputs (e.g. number of people served) to outcomes when designing, monitoring, and reporting on programs. At the same time, few organizations have the resources to determine how participation in a given program leads to changes that wouldn't happen otherwise. We want to help!
The Urban Initiative is seeking proposals from local nonprofits who would benefit from technical assistance in designing a logic model and an evaluation plan for a particular program. Organizations will be selected to work one-on-one with a Public Policy graduate student enrolled in Dr. Weiwei Lin's Program Evaluation course during the spring semester. Interested in learning more? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
| Here are some of the things we've been working on:
- We recently wrapped up an extensive dropout prevention program evaluation for the Springfield (MA) Public Schools, which was particularly concerned with their continually declining graduation rate. After several months of site visits and both qualitative and quantitative analysis done in partnership with the National Dropout Prevention Center, we issued a comprehensive report that can be found on our website.
- Another technical assistance project has kept us closer to home. We've been working with the local mentoring program SMILES to help them develop a system for evaluating the impact of participation on students' outcomes.
- The Urban Initiative has been selected as the evaluator for the Taunton Housing Authority's $22 million HOPE VI award, which will be used to demolish a rundown, problematic housing project (Fairfax Gardens, on Dewert Avenue) and replace it with two new developments. The Urban Initiative looks forward to working with the THA over the next 4.5 years to evaluate the project's impact on its residents and the community.
- We're blogging! Follow us at http://urbaninitiative.wordpress.com to get a real-time synopsis of news, research, events, and opportunities related to urban policy and the SouthCoast. We're also on Facebook, so "Like" us if you are too!
|From the blog:|
Here's just a sampling of what we've been writing about on our blog, Urban Update:
- Unsurprisingly, this is shaping up to be a tough year for federal grant programs that support cities. No funding was allocated to HUD's Sustainable Communities program, while Promise Neighborhoods-developed to encourage cities to replicate the successful Harlem Children's Zone-will likely see deep cuts. The good news? TIGER grants, which funded rail bridge upgrades in New Bedford last summer, will live on. Read more here.
- For many, bookstores aren't just small businesses; they're also gathering places that signal a community's commitment to civic and intellectual engagement. So what does it mean to be a city without a bookstore? Let us know by posting a comment.
- We profiled a public art project featured in both GOOD magazine and the just-released documentary, Urbanized (which Colleen highly recommends). Called "I wish this was...," New Orleans residents are creatively sharing their thoughts on how to reuse vacant commercial properties in their neighborhoods. Click here to get inspired.
Read more at http://urbaninitiative.wordpress.com, and subscribe to our RSS feed to ensure you don't miss a post.
1. What: The Urban Institute (not us, but the DC-based think tank) hosts regular panel discussions on urban policy issues that are streamed on the web. Tomorrow's discussion will focus on the future of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy.
When: Wednesday, 12/7, from 12-1:30
Where: Online (this and past webcasts can be viewed here)
Click here for more information
2. What: Southeastern MA Council on Sustainability Quarterly Meeting; guest speakers to discuss new models of civic engagement and community building
When: Thursday, 12/8 from 1-4p
Where: Waypoint Event Center, New Bedford, MA
3. What: Third Sector New England presents one of its most popular workshops, "Effective Supervision: Creating a Culture of Mutual Respect"
When: Thursday, 1/12, from 9a-3:30p
Where: Boston, MA
Cost: $99, plus $15 materials fee (lunch included)
Click here for more information
Have an upcoming event you'd like to see listed next month? Email us!
The Smarter Cities Challenge - IBM
Cities are invited to submit proposals to receive three weeks of intensive technical assistance from an IBM team that will work on addressing a particular challenge. Past grantees (including the City of Providence) typically sought support through the implementation of smarter technologies or processes. Click here to learn more and apply.
Amelia Peabody Foundation
A longtime funder of organizations in the region, the Amelia Peabody Foundation supports the needs of urban youth with grant amounts that typically range from $10-50,000. Get the details at their website.
Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation
This foundation supports programs and organizations related to criminal and juvenile justice in Massachusetts. Median award is approx. $10,000. Click here for guidelines.
Arts and Culture grants - Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is seeking preliminary applications for support in their focus area of arts and culture. Grants are available in two programs: facilities investment and community building. Read more here.
Know of any other upcoming opportunities we should share? Email us!
Educator, The Katie Brown Educational Program
Where: Fall River
This program is dedicated to the recognition and prevention of relationship violence by teaching skills and information needed to make healthy decisions in relationships. Learn more at kbep.org.
Engagement Manager, Trustees of Reservations
Where: Southeastern Massachusetts
The role of the Southeast Region Engagement Manager (SREM) is to create and execute programs and initiatives that involve and inspire people to care for these special places and assist in building healthy, active, sustainable communities. Details here.
Grants Manager, Providence Metropolitan YMCA
Where: Providence, RI
Research, write, administer, and report on grants. More info here.
Are you hiring? Email us to get your job posting listed in next month's newsletter.
| What is the
The Urban Initiative at UMass Dartmouth is a division of the Center for Policy Analysis that was established in 2007 to address challenges and opportunities in the region's smaller industrial cities, with a particular emphasis on nearby communities like Fall River and New Bedford.
In addition to conducting applied research, evaluating programs and policies, facilitating collaborations, and providing technical assistance to cities and organizations therein, the Urban Initiative serves as a knowledge base for urban policy issues and their applications in the region.
| Who is the
Since August 2011, Colleen Dawicki has served as Project Manager of the Urban Initiative. Previously, she was the Urban Initiative's Graduate Research Assistant under former director Edward M. Lambert, Jr., who left the post in January 2011 to become Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. A New Bedford resident and SouthCoast native, Dawicki earned a B.A. in Public and Private Sector Organizations from Brown University in 2006 and is working toward her Master's of Public Policy (MPP) at UMass Dartmouth.
Hannah Colestock is the UI's Graduate Research Assistant. Also a student in the MPP program, Hannah earned a B.A in Sociology and Women's Studies from the University of New Hampshire in 2009. She also helped launch Girls on the Run - Rhode Island, of which she is now council director.
The Urban Initiative team works closely with David Borges, Associate Director of the Center for Policy Analysis, who has over fifteen years of experience working on regional public policy issues.
| Read this:|
Looking for something uplifting this holiday season? Check out Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough, a profile of Geoffrey Canada's efforts to break the cycle of urban poverty in Harlem. Said Ira Glass, host of "This American Life": "This book changed my understanding of poverty in America in the most surprising way: it made me feel hopeful."
| Watch this:|
If you're fascinated by cities but you haven't seen The Wire, do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you still mourn the end of the successful HBO series, check out Brick City. Available on Netflix Instant, this series follows Newark Mayor Cory Booker as he tackles real-life issues like crime, education, and budget cuts.