Giving Compass’ Take:
• This Stanford Social Innovation Review post argues that the key to investing in local communities in order to strengthen them is building cohesive networks within those communities, highlighting recent research from MDRC.
• Working within local government is vital as well. How can nonprofits and funders support efforts to give more voice to the communities when it comes to policymaking?
• Read about the success of community social networks that were developed in Chicago neighborhoods.
To invest in a place — whether for profit or for public benefit, whether an urban neighborhood or a rural community — is to place a bet on the strength of that community’s economic and social fabric. It’s a bet on the community’s ability to absorb the capital, use it to attract more resources, recognize and make the most of latent opportunities, and persevere to create more opportunity and value.
Over the years, communities that had seemed to lack the wherewithal to make the most of investments have later turned around, seizing the opportunity and remaking the landscape, piling value on value. In places that were once thought resistant to change, in sections of Newark, Indianapolis, Oakland, Houston, and Chicago, among many other places, certain neighborhoods have managed to shift the odds.
How does this happen? Years of thought and experience — including many influential articles in this publication — have persuasively argued that the key is cohesiveness. The key is to form the social and strategic ligaments that bind whole neighborhoods and help their centers of strength and energy work in concert.
In stronger communities, local interests find ways to pull together, form networks, share information, take collective action on local issues, and forcefully promote their own understanding of local needs and opportunities to government and outside investors.
Social network analysis is a way of mapping the relationships among people and organizations working in a given place or field. It provides a way of understanding where the strengths of the observed relationships lie and what they can accomplish. The analysis can tell us what becomes possible when the resources of several organizations are combined, in specific ways, compared with what any one of them could have achieved on its own.
Read the full article about cohesive networks by Maurice A. Jones at Stanford Social Innovation Review
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