A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

As the recipient of nine of the twenty-two Choice Neighborhood Initiative Implementation grants across the country, Urban Strategies has extensive experience in revitalizing distressed neighborhoods and empowering its residents. This year, we hosted a two-day conference to share best practices and continue the conversation among our fellow grantees.

Urban Strategies believes that the most meaningful and productive work can begin when providers can connect, discuss, and share honestly.

To this end, Urban Strategies hosted the inaugural Choice MEANS Choice Conference in October of 2016. More than 100 attendees that represented 16 communities across the country gathered together to share best practices, participate in roundtable discussions, and hear from other providers in various stages of grant implementation.

The event was lively, with productive discussions on the topics of:

  • Economic development
  • Race and equity
  • Resident engagement
  • Safety
  • Financial education
  • Ex-offender reentry
  • Workforce development, and more.

There were many opportunities for learning through role play, networking, open discussions, and meaningful interactions.

An important piece of neighborhood redevelopment is Urban Strategies’ belief that the more we share, the more we all benefit. When we focus on meaningful resident engagement, partner collaboration, and honest discussion, the communities we serve are better off and will continue to thrive.

“The ultimate goal of the conference is to sustain the work we do within our respective communities,” said event organizer and Urban Strategies Associate Project Manager, Erika Wilson. “We had the opportunity to dig deeper together as collaborators, not competitors.”

Thanks to this conference, the doors are open to grantees who continue to promote vibrant communities, empowered residents, and families that are stable and thriving.

Urban Strategies employed innovative technology to further engage conference attendees through the use of a mobile application. Thanks to data gathered from the Guidebook app, Choice MEANS Choice staff were able to track the engagement of attendees. Over the course of the 2-day event, more than 75% of attendees used the app an average of 42 times. Plus, the hash tag #ChoiceMeansChoice elicited some meaningful discussions and awareness on social media.

Partner Highlight: Prosperity Connection

One of Urban Strategies’ partners in St. Louis, Missouri is Prosperity Connection, whose mission is to strengthen the region by providing free resources to encourage the economic independence of residents. Their services include financial education, affordable financial services, and additional resources and support to low-to-moderate income populations in an effort to improve their standard of living and better their lifestyle.

Prosperity Connection’s Executive Director, Paul Woodruff, presented at the Choice MEANS Choice Conference on the topic of strengthening household and small business financial management.

“It’s so encouraging to see that Urban Strategies puts such an emphasis on gathering the pulse of the communities they work in through residents and community activists,” said Woodruff. “It’s not just lip-service. They truly listen to the community.”