National Initiatives

USI supports transformative work across the country where we partner with entities like Public Housing Authorities to community stakeholders and individuals living in the communities of focus. We lead and support efforts including:

  • Choice Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI)
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Community-Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) Program
  • Promise Zone

Our CNI Experience

Building upon the lessons of public housing transformation through more than 20 years of work with HOPE VI revitalization efforts, Urban Strategies has developed and demonstrated expertise in planning, implanting and supporting Choice Neighborhood Initiatives. From planning and technical assistance to implementation, we are currently engaged in Choice Neighborhoods to work in nine communities since the introduction of the program by HUD in 2010.

In 2011, Urban Strategies was awarded as the people implementer for two of the first-ever Choice Neighborhood Initiative grants resulting in over $9 million in supportive services funding for families, and nearly $52 million in housing and neighborhood revitalization funds. Urban Strategies was an integral part of two teams awarded Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants out of only five finalists.

Urban Strategies has since been awarded CNI Implementation awards in nine additional cities including New Orleans, Louisiana (2011); San Francisco, California (2011); San Antonio, Texas (2012); Columbus, Ohio (2014); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2014); Memphis, Tennessee (2015); Sacramento, California (2015); Louisville, Kentucky and St. Louis, Missouri (2016).

Sustainable Communities

CBCR Experience




The Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) Program, (formerly known as the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) Program) is part of BJA’s Innovations Suite of Programs. These programs invest in the development of practitioner-researcher partnerships that use data, evidence, and innovation to create strategies and interventions that are effective and economical.

Goals, Objectives, and Program Approach

The goal of CBCR is to reduce crime, increase trust, and improve community safety as part of a comprehensive strategy to rebuild neighborhoods and spur revitalization. Through a broad cross-sector partnership team, including neighborhood residents, CBCR grantees target neighborhoods with hot spots of violent and serious crime and employ data-driven, cross-sector strategies to accomplish this goal.

To achieve CBCR program goals, successful CBCR cross-sector teams commit to accomplishing the following objectives (these objectives may vary depending upon the type of CBCR grant award.)

  • Convene, lead and meaningfully engage a broad cross-sector partnership team that must include law enforcement, other criminal justice partners, neighborhood residents, a local research partner or research team and relevant community stakeholders.
  • Target communities with a concentration of chronic hot spots of violent and serious crime and/or opioid-related crime.
  • Address crime issue(s) that must represent a significant proportion of crime or type of crime within the larger community or jurisdiction.
  • Employ a range of data-driven, cross-sector strategies (enforcement, prevention, and intervention) connected with revitalization efforts to reduce crime and violence and improve community trust.
  • Establish effective partnerships both to provide solutions and commit resources to sustain what works.
  • Work closely with the CBCR TTA provider to implement a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.
  • Assess program implementation in collaboration with research partners, and plan for sustainment of effective strategies with private and public state, local, and tribal funding.

For more information, on our St. Louis plan, click here.

Promise Zone

Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community. USI supports the designated Promise Zones of San Antonio, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri.

San Antonio

  • In San Antonio, the Promise Zone to Work Initiative was launched and has since provided free job training certifications in nursing, construction, manufacturing, information technology, and heavy equipment for 106 residents. This effort is contributing to an overall decline in the unemployment rate; over the last four years, unemployment in the Promise Zone declined from 15 percent to 11 percent. Source

St. Louis City/County

  • The Promise Zone, designated in 2015, encompasses portions of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. The federally designated areas were reviewed by representatives from several federal agencies and met qualifying criteria. The selected areas have high unemployment, high crime and mortality rates; significant numbers of vacant lots and abandoned buildings; and homelessness. The Promise Zone designation, which lasts 10 years, is a catalyst for ongoing collaboration and change that will drive regional growth and create a better, more inclusive St. Louis region. Source