Strong Cities, Strong Communities Leadership Initiative
The Strong Cities, Strong Communities Leadership Activities (SC2 Leadership Activities) built additional capacity, engaged and connected local stakeholders, and encouraged innovative thinking around economic development and community revitalization strategies in seven cities — Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio; Chester, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; Detroit, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; and Fresno, California. To achieve these objectives, GMF designed three activities under the initiative to link and leverage the efforts of local leaders, the SC2 federal team, and SC2 fellows in each city:
- City Bootcamps: a targeted multi-day workshop series offered in each SC2 city to build local networks and increase local economic and community development capacity.
- Peer Exchanges: an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning on selected topics between SC2 cities or other cities in the GMF network.
- National Network Workshop: a national meeting in spring 2014 for SC2 fellows, local project managers, and key leaders from each city to share knowledge, network, and discuss next steps and resources related to the SC2 program.
GMF viewed the activities as an opportunity to create a strong network of economic and community development practitioners to support city revitalization initiatives and to share knowledge and resources. The activities were based on a peer-to-peer learning model supplemented by input from expert practitioners from other communities and dialogue facilitated by GMF staff. The strategy was to inspire innovative thinking around community revitalization strategies and economic development, but not to encourage replication of unique solutions that worked in case study communities.
Despite each city’s unique situation, four themes emerged, including:
- Innovative partnership strategies
- Community wealth building
- New efficiencies in city government
- Downtown and neighborhood revitalization
The leadership activities were conducted in coordination GMF’s management of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellowship program. Fellows were embedded in city government or non-profit organizations committed to supporting specific civic initiatives. GMF utilized this connection to ensure that activity topics aligned with local agendas.
The SC2 Initiative, of which the Fellowship program is a component, was launched by the White House as 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.
To learn more about the Leadership Activities program and outcomes, please see the final report for the SC2 Leadership Activities here.
This initiative was generously supported by the Surdna Foundation.