From 2012 to 2019, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Family-Centered Community Change (FCCC) effort supported three existing community initiatives in Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Ohio; and San Antonio, Texas. Each partnership brought together existing child and adult education and economic success services into two-generation programming for local families with children up to age 10. The three site partnerships built upon their own assets and developed along unique trajectories, but they all included supports to promote family economic success; build capacity for parents, caregivers, and community-based organizations; and provide children with quality early care and education experiences.

We recently summarized the seven-year evolution of these efforts in the project’s final evaluation report. We found that along the way, community partners, researchers, and funders learned important lessons that will benefit others looking to develop effective place-based, two-generation approaches.

  1. Understand the context: People embarking on or investing in community-focused work should educate themselves about the community-level factors affecting families’ opportunities and constraints.
  2. Define the framework and goals: Identifying a shared vision from the outset can improve families’ experiences.
  3. Incorporate a broad understanding of racial and ethnic equity: Centering racial and ethnic equity is essential to creating new, sustainable economic opportunities in areas with many Black, Latinx, and Indigenous families.
  4. Ensure racial and ethnic inclusion: Structural racism and racial and ethnic exclusion are deeply embedded in low-income service delivery nationally.
  5. Engage partners at multiple levels: Two-generation, place-based work involves stakeholders at multiple organizational levels.
  6. Define partnership dynamics: Effective partnerships are complex but critical, and they take time to develop, often with trial and error.
  7. Measure impact: Documenting the effectiveness of an intervention helps make the case for continued investment of energy, time, and financial resources.
  8. Respond proactively to new challenges: As the social pressures created by the pandemic continue, and even after the acute crisis is over, service providers and other stakeholders should consider a purposeful approach to social and economic recovery and the processing of trauma, rather than returning to business as usual.

Read the full article about breaking poverty cycles by Theresa Anderson at Urban Institute.