Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellowship
American towns, cities, and regions are working to rebuild their economies after losing many of their traditional economic drivers over the past four decades. Rebuilding and revitalizing the economies of these places, particularly the most distressed, is a key challenge and opportunity in the 21st century. The SC2 Initiative was launched by the White House to pilot a new model of federal-local collaboration to improve how the federal government invests in and offers technical assistance to support locally driven economic development and job creation goals, while helping to coordinate funds at the local, state, and federal level. GMF manages the Fellowship component of this program, along with Cleveland State University and Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Center.
In each of the program’s seven pilot cities – Chester, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, Fresno, California, Memphis, Tennessee, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Youngstown, Ohio– SC2 Fellows are embedded in city government or non-profit organizations committed to supporting specific civic initiatives. The fellows collaborate with city staff, elected officials, local organizations, and citizens on specific projects identified by each city as critical to improving economic opportunity and quality of life. Each fellow’s work also contributes to a larger federal effort in each SC2 city led by a Community Solutions Team that brings together top staff from HUD, EPA, DOT, and other agencies to leverage federal capacity in pushing forward local priorities.
To broaden the reach of the CSTs and the fellows, GMF has also initiated an ongoing series of policy bootcamps that bring national experts to each pilot city for two days of intensive learning and dialogue around the issues the local SC2 team, city officials, and local stakeholders have established as critical. These sessions have helped to push priorities forward, established new networks of peer-to-peer learning, and engaged a broad group of stakeholders in each pilot city.
Selected Year One Accomplishments
- Development of a place-based demolition prioritization system to maximize city resources in Cleveland;
- Strategic guidance and outreach to increase healthcare access in New Orleans;
- Planning for data-driven performance management in Memphis;
- Advancing community land use and development goals in Chester;
- Building partnerships to support downtown revitalization in Fresno;
- Structuring city management performance metrics in Youngstown;
- Providing resource-saving recommendations to the law department in Detroit; and
- Hosting policy bootcamps in Fresno, Chester, and Memphis designed to advance city priorities such as anchor institution partnerships, transportation equity, and talent retention.
Cross-Cutting Themes: City leaders in each of the seven pilot locations identified issues in need of critical problem-solving capacity.