Strategic Plan – Impact: 2022-2027


In March 2021, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) engaged Ernst & Young LLP (EY) to assist with creating a new strategic plan. The EY Economic Development Advisory Services practice collaborated with Urban Policy Innovations to lead the strategic planning process over the course of seven months, which consisted of three primary phases and reports:

  • Phase 1 included a background review of the demographic and economic context surrounding the Cleveland area and an organizational assessment evaluating CNP’s current state, as well as an analysis of the community development corporation (CDC) ecosystem that CNP serves and supports. We also sought feedback and input from key stakeholders.
  • Phase 2 involved a comparative analysis of CNP against other peer CDC intermediaries and similar organizations, along with a review of leading practices for consideration.
  • Phase 3 entailed development and delivery of the new strategy and implementation plan.


In the first phase, we consulted with CNP staff and board leadership, and the project team established an organizational future state that served as a guidepost for the strategic planning process: 

  • CNP’s essential purpose is to strengthen the CDC ecosystem to foster inclusive communities and economic opportunity throughout Cleveland. CDCs should be at the center of CNP’s work and the primary vehicles through which it cultivates neighborhood revitalization.
  • The investment and placemaking activities of CNP’s affiliate organizations, Village Capital Corporation (VCC) and New Village Corporation (NVC), should be coordinated and aligned with neighborhood development priorities.
  • Racial equity and inclusion should be woven into every decision and action – in funding and resource allocation, and in all organizational operations.

If CNP is able to deliver on the requirements listed above, the organization will realize the following outcomes: 

  • A significant increase in repaired, rehabilitated, and new residential and commercial real estate, because CDCs have the know-how to deploy Community Development Block Grant funds and are able to leverage VCC loan products and services, along with NVC’s real estate know-how and technical advice.
  • CDCs are highly valued and adequately resourced organizations that contribute to equitable revitalization, foster greater connectivity to vital programs and services, and raise positive awareness around the neighborhoods they serve.


CNP’s mission statement has been updated to clearly articulate the new strategic direction. A compelling mission is purpose-driven and actionable. It is aspirational in nature and provides a target that the organization can continuously strive toward in collaboration with key partners.

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’s mission is to foster equitable revitalization throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods by strengthening the community development ecosystem.

Defining the ecosystem

The community development ecosystem is defined as the network of CDCs; city and county government entities; housing providers; public space partners; economic and workforce development organizations, and intermediaries; public, private and nonprofit funders/capital providers; real estate developers and other local partners, including settlement houses, business improvement districts and neighborhood associations. 

Strategic priorities

By aggregating insights collected from background research and analysis, as well as input from the CNP board and staff, CDC executive directors and other key partners and stakeholders during the plan development process, along with consideration of national leading practices and models, the following priorities, goals and recommendations have been identified for the Impact: 2022-2027 strategic plan. 

The four strategic focus areas are: 

Community development corporation advancement and resilience
Equitable neighborhood revitalization
Access to capital
Advocacy, marketing and collaboration


Goal 1: CDCs have access to the financial resources, talent, industry expertise and technical assistance they need to effectively serve their neighborhoods, continuously improve and sustain operations over time.

Recommended objectives
1.1 Develop a comprehensive, capacity-building suite of services that provide industry expertise and technical assistance for CDCs in real­estate development and other key areas.
1.2 Expand, and explore new, funding vehicles for CDCs, including evaluations of existing programs (e.g., CDBG and SIi) for adjustments.
1.3 Collaborate with CDC leaders to develop a CDC ecosystem talent strategy that aligns with the Mandel Foundation’s CDC Leadership Program and includes strengthening the leadership pipeline, staff development and retention.
1.4 Support CDCs with resident connectivity and empowerment, so that residents can play an active role in neighborhood revitalization efforts. 

Equitable neighborhood revitalization 

Goal 2: Equitable neighborhood revitalization efforts are effectively coordinated among CNP, NVC, VCC, CDCs and other key partners and implemented in each neighborhood based on the particular needs and opportunities of residents and businesses. 

Recommended objectives
2.1 Facilitate neighborhood planning and placemaking in the community to ensure all neighborhoods are positioned for investment, sustainable and climate resilient development and overall economic growth.
2.2 Encourage more responsible private sector investment and partnerships with CDCs and other community organizations to accelerate equitable and climate resilient development.
2.3 Amplify CNP’s role as an economic development partner and connector, with a focus on increasing access to resources for CDCs, small businesses and residents, and cultivating more connectivity in the economic and workforce development ecosystem. 

Access to capital 

Goal 3: Access to capital is elevated to serve more disinvested Cleveland neighborhoods, support equitable neighborhood revitalization, and deliver enhanced value to CDCs and targeted businesses. 

Recommended objectives
3.1 Expand the toolbox of financial products that can benefit CDCs, development partners and other stakeholders.
3.2 Support facilitating greater investment-readiness among CDCs, resulting in increased capital for CDCs and CDC-partnered projects.
3.3 Establish targets for lending to people of color and women-owned contracting and development companies, and other small businesses.
3.4 Generate new and sustainable sources of capital (lending and operating) to allow VCC to deliver new and enhanced products and services, and foster its own organizational health and growth. 

Advocacy, marketing and collaboration 

Goal 4: CNP is the leading voice and liaison for CDCs with government, philanthropy and business; the coordinator of marketing and communications that promote the value of inclusive community and economic development; and a vision of all neighborhoods as communities of choice. 

Recommended objectives
4.1 Cultivate relationships with public sector leaders and advocate for public funding, investment incentives and policies at the local, state and federal levels that benefit CDCs, residents and businesses.
4.2 Strengthen alliances with and between CDCs, funders, corporations, economic development organizations and other stakeholders to grow interest in, and support for, the CDC ecosystem and CNP.
4.3 Develop and launch integrated marketing campaigns that promote Cleveland neighborhoods, elevate the local community development industry, and increase awareness and understanding of CNP’s contributions. 

Actionable organizing values 

In addition to the strategic priorities, goals and recommended objectives, three organizational imperatives have been determined. These imperatives will serve as actionable organizing values or principles that will undergird CNP’s mission and reinforce the strategy. They will be integrated throughout its operations and will be evident in its outcomes and impact. 

The three organizational imperatives are: 

Racial equity and inclusion
Racial equity and inclusion asserts the organization’s commitment to building a community development model that seeks to dismantle systemic barriers to economic opportunity, by advocating for policy changes that promote equitable revitalization and investing capacity and resources in disinvested CDCs and neighborhoods.

Economic opportunity
Economic opportunity refers to the organization’s understanding that community development is not an ends in and of itself, but is instead a means to creating greater opportunities in terms of home and business ownership, education and training, employment, generational wealth­building and other impacts that allow individuals and families to realize their full potential and enjoy a high quality of life. 

Applied thought leadership
Thought leadership, research and analysis are core competencies of CNP that can be amplified by leveraging the organization’s collective intelligence of all team members, and collaborating with CDCs and other partners, to discover and apply innovative solutions to deeply embedded community and societal challenges.