US Mayor Article

Mayors, Cities to Celebrate National Community Development Week in April

By Eugene T. Lowe
March 20, 2000

During April 24 - 30, hundreds of cities will celebrate the 14th annual National Community Development Week campaign. The week of celebration gives mayors and cities the opportunity to demonstrate how the flexibility of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)program has helped address the physical, economic, and human services needs of low- and moderate. Income citizens. The theme of this year’s celebration is CDBG: People Strengthening Communities Strengthening People.

The aim of National Community Development Week is to build congressional support to prevent cuts in the CDBG program and to build a base to request increased funding to better meet current and emerging problems.

More than 500 cities took part in National Community Development Week last year, It is important that more cities participate this year. But cities must plan now. A wealth of experience has come out of the previous campaigns and is provided in a guidebook prepared by the National Community Development Association. In planning for National Community Development Week, the guidebook recommends adopting a five step approach:

1) Organize The Working Group

Local CD officials should identify a “lead staff person” or a 3-5 person core working group within their agency. If the government uses CDBG For human services and economic development activity, both program areas should be represented on the working group. IF possible, senior staff persons should be selected so that the effort will be viewed as ‘important”.

2) Plan Promotional Dates

There are several dates that can be identified for CDBG activities. Congressional recesses provide ideal opportunities to arrange meetings with congressional delegations.

3) Timing

In planning National Community Development Week activities, careful attention should be given to make sure that the schedule is reasonable, given the time for preparation . A review of past efforts can help decide what is achievable.

4) Assess Your Community

Every city should assess community perception of the National Community Development program. This information will provide an important bench mark For evaluating the effectiveness of CDBG promotional activity over the years. But in the actual planning of National Community Development Week activities, regardless of high or low community perception ,, it is probably better to assume that everyone (community citizens, local municipal council, congressional delegation) must be brought up to speed on the benefits and impact National Community Development is having on the community.

5) Identify Your CDBG Constituency

It is Important that CDBG be recognized as a critical form of support for many of the high priority activities in the community. Don’t forget that church, labor, business, corporation, and banks invest in local CDBG programs and should be considered as supporters. Moreover, remember CDBG is a “leveraged funding resource. Sorting out instances where CDBG funds have been used as leverage is key to identifying the constituency that is served by this funding resource.

Implementing Your Plan

National Community Development Week should be announced through press releases and other informational materials as soon as possible, even if events are not fully planned.  The approach should be to target efforts to the public and to members of Congress.

There are a number of suggested National Community Development Week activities: city proclamations, a review of ongoing program activities, a congressional tour or breakfast with agency and community leaders, and a large public gathering for 200 or more people.

Regardless of what a city does, it is important to remember that National Community Development Week provides a unique opportunity to educate decision makers in Washington, as well as constituents at home, about the significant role CDBG plays in making communities better places to live.