5 Year Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021


Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a local community development funding intermediary, moves into 2017 with a renewed vision for vibrant neighborhoods. Through organizational introspection and soliciting the insight of our dynamic partners, we created a new strategic plan for the next five years that reflects our best thinking about the potential of Cleveland’s community development system to create stronger and more connected neighborhoods. This plan preserves the essential elements of our philosophical commitment to comprehensive community development—an approach that balances the importance of people and place and people in place—and refines our strategies in response to the changing nature of our work.

Through this strategic planning process, three emergent priorities have been intentionally infused into the DNA of our organization: Policy, Advocacy, and Research; Racial Equity and Inclusion; and Thought Leadership. We believe that each of these priorities are interconnected and mutually reinforcing, and are part of a natural evolution for our organization and for Cleveland’s community development industry.

The strategic planning process for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress has resulted in a revised mission
and vision.

Mission: to foster inclusive communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland.
Vision: Cleveland’s neighborhoods are attractive, vibrant, and inclusive communities where together, people from diverse incomes, races, and generations thrive, prosper, and choose to live, learn, work, invest, and play.

In fulfilling our mission, we are committed to:

RESULTS—Achieve transformative outcomes throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods
INTEGRITY—Maintain honest, transparent, and ethical conduct
EQUITY—Champion equal access to opportunity for people of all races and income levels
ACCOUNTABILITY—Accept responsibility for actions, results, and transformation
EXCELLENCE—Expect outstanding quality in everything we do
COLLABORATIONAccomplish more by working together
INNOVATION—Take informed risks to find new solutions

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress utilizes a comprehensive approach to community development.  The following principles reflect our values and define our culture:

1) The central role of cities, neighborhoods, and people in place:
We believe Cleveland’s contributions to our economy and quality of life are the building blocks of our regional stability. We also believe that neighborhoods of choice and opportunity are essential to a thriving city, and that people are the life-blood of thriving neighborhoods. Involvement in significant county and regional discussions, initiatives, and investments will be pursued with an eye on how Clevelanders, and Cleveland neighborhoods, can contribute and benefit. We embrace a holistic vision for neighborhood revitalization that infuses “people-based strategies” within traditional “bricks-and-mortar” community development practice. This comprehensive approach is essential to fostering the development of vibrant neighborhoods that meet the needs of its residents.

2) Race matters:
We believe racial inequality and the persistence of structural barriers that prevent people of color from accessing opportunities can no longer be tolerated and must be addressed. We must work with a diverse range of partners to rectify the disparate impacts of social, economic, political, and climate-related stressors on communities of color. In order to advance our mission of fostering neighborhoods of choice and opportunity for all Cleveland residents, we must approach community development using a racial equity and inclusion lens, and build coalitions to reduce racial disparity.

3) Equity for all people:
We are committed to advancing equity as a fundamental design principle for our work. In order to truly accomplish our vision for Cleveland’s neighborhoods, we must ensure that all residents—especially the most marginalized members of the community—feel connected to the fabric of their neighborhoods, have equal access to opportunities, and are engaged in decision-making processes that affect their lives. We will promote community development policies and practices that intentionally address concentrated poverty and the legacies of historic and current inequality.

4) High-capacity Community Development Corporations:
We believe effective and efficient community development corporations play a unique and critical role in transforming every neighborhood and fulfilling the values and principles that Neighborhood Progress is committed to pursuing in partnership.

5) Climate Resiliency and Sustainability:
We believe that increasing access to urban green spaces will benefit everyone, and that it is essential for communities to have the resources and tools needed to address climate change and its associated environmental stresses.   By embracing sustainable approaches and practices, investing in vacant land reclamation, advancing mitigation programs, and fostering social cohesion, we believe we will create healthier, more adaptable neighborhoods for Cleveland’s residents.

6) Broad-based collaboration, resident empowerment and partnerships:
We believe that together with our governmental, institutional, and neighborhood partners we can achieve far more than any one nonprofit, philanthropic, public, or private enterprise can accomplish on its own. We also believe that the expertise, influence, and capacity of local anchor institutions—such as hospitals and universities—must be leveraged to significantly (and positively) impact proximate communities. Furthermore, we acknowledge that local participation and resident empowerment are indispensable to our work. In an era of scarcity, maximizing existing resources, network efficiency, and scale all matter. Neighborhood Progress works to break down silos, share best practices, and foster collective impact through long-term relationships with community groups and anchor institutions, government, private enterprise, faith-based organizations, and philanthropy to capitalize on Cleveland neighborhoods’ substantial assets. Ultimately, lasting change occurs only when dynamic organizations work collaboratively with a diversity of residents and leaders for positive neighborhood outcomes.

7) Transparent and informed decision-making:
We believe analyzing and sharing data, information, and insights about our most pressing community needs—and what does, and does not work to address them—provides a common body of knowledge and experience upon which organizations and their leaders must draw. As a thought-leader and convener, Neighborhood Progress encourages outcomes-driven practices, innovation, and risk-taking, using data to focus efforts on what will have the greatest impact.

8) Access to quality affordable housing, education, and retail, artistic, & cultural amenities:
We believe that the built environment is the foundation of a neighborhood. The quality of schools, housing, and retail greatly impacts the decision to move into a neighborhood. The affordability of amenities and its proximity to multi-modal transit connections ensures that—regardless of income—residents are able to stay in the their community of choice. Educational attainment is an essential element of community building and inextricably bound to neighborhood success, job readiness, and wealth building. We also believe that creative spaces and cultural institutions are essential to preserving the unique character of our neighborhoods, and greatly contribute to the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual well being of its residents.  Increasing access to high-quality schools for all students, safe and affordable housing for all families, and a diverse mix of attractive amenities for all residents, fosters a sense of ownership and belonging that is essential to creating stronger, more vibrant, and more connected communities. When thoughtfully developed, inclusive neighborhoods provide a launching pad for families and individuals to advance socially and economically.

9) Catalytic Public & Private Investments:
We believe that Cleveland neighborhoods have suffered from decades of disinvestment, which has resulted in a lack of quality assets, amenities, and opportunities for residents. We are committed to reversing these trends and working to attract increased resources for community development. We provide, promote, and broker access to responsive and responsible investment capital, as well as, development services to build and strengthen neighborhood markets. We will work with private and public sector leaders to ensure that urban investment is
a top priority.

10) Advocacy for equitable policies:
We believe that there is a vital need for a unified voice to advocate for the most pressing policy priorities of Cleveland’s community development industry. Considering the complexity and urgency of the need for stronger, more vibrant neighborhoods, we will advance a robust and multidimensional policy and advocacy agenda to catalyze local, state and federal investments in the urban core, and to spur equitable, innovative solutions.  We will work in partnership with legislators to support and prioritize issues such as: public infrastructure and transit-oriented development projects, neighborhood economic development, innovative vacant land reuse strategies, mobility, economic opportunity, and protecting equity for homeowners through housing preservation and rehabilitation support.

Decision Making Criteria:
In addition to the organization’s mission, vision, values and guiding principles, clear decision-making criteria was established by our organization in determining the final scope of this plan.

This 2017 – 2021 Strategic Plan:

  • Must align with our mission & values and guiding principles, and help achieve our strategic goals
  • Considers available internal and external financial & human resources
  • Maximizes opportunity to address racial disparities
  • Considers our local ecosystem: market & competitive landscape, need for and benefits of, collaboration and strategic partnerships
  • Informs and advances systemic and policy solutions
  • Strategic Positioning: leverages our distinct expertise & connection to neighborhoods
  • Has potential to impact a range of CDCs, neighborhoods, and residents
  • Considers costs and benefits, anticipated results, and impact on marginalized populations

At its core, the purpose of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ CDC Advancement work is to support and elevate Cleveland’s community development system. It is our belief that through a strong system of community development corporations, Cleveland’s neighborhoods are best equipped to make change and become communities of choice and opportunity. With one of the oldest and most mature community development systems in the United States, we see Cleveland as a model of highly effective and results-driven community development and seek to highlight this work on a national scale.

To accomplish this goal, CDC Advancement will support CDCs through industry alignment, continued professionalization of CDC leaders and staff, and by connecting our partners to new, cutting-edge tools and resources to deepen their work in neighborhoods. Over the next five years, we will continue to ally with community development funders and share our model for inclusive comprehensive community development and transparent grant-making.  We are committed to evidence-based practices and data-informed decision-making, and we will continue to research and disseminate best practices through our Performance Standards and share neighborhood data and indicators through our Progress Index.  We will host and sponsor trainings and workshops in Cleveland to help broaden and deepen our industry’s knowledge, while also sharing local community development innovation with the rest of the country through research, opinion papers, and presentations at national conferences. Finally, as our field changes and evolves, we will explore options for shared services, alliances, and mergers, and advocate for new funding sources and investments in our community development system.

We know our charge – bolstering and highlighting Cleveland’s community development industry.
We have our roadmap and course – our strategic plan will keep us on pace and help us achieve our goal.

CDC Advancement Goal: Cleveland is nationally-recognized as a model for its highly effective and results-driven community development network.

  • Timeline for most strategic objectives spans life of the plan  (2017-2021) unless otherwise called out in tactics
  • Achieving Goal 1 and accomplishing each strategic objective will require multiple partners – most specifically the City of Cleveland, CDCs and our Legacy Funders

What continues in pursuit of this goal:

  • Commitment to organizational (CDC) and individual (staff person) capacity development
  • Focus on transformative and transparent grantmaking practices
  • Support of alliances, collaborations and mergers
  • Funder alignment as related to CDC and neighborhood investments

What is new and different:

  • Continued refinement and better usage of Progress Index and Performance Standards as shared measures for investment
  • Integration of Racial Equity and Inclusion lens
  • More specific and measurable strategic objectives and tactics
Strategic Objective 1: More Cleveland neighborhoods are receiving high-quality and efficient community development services

Strategic Objective 2: More CDCs are led and staffed by high-talented and skilled community development professionals

Strategic Objective 3: Build and maintain a CDC Industry learning environment, where everyone feels valued, included and provided the opportunity to thrive

Strategic Objective 4: Further develop and refine how success will be measured and reported

Strategic Objective 5: Increase extent to which Cleveland’s community development model helps inform national thinking and comprehensive community development

Strategic Objective 6: Ensure high-quality, transparent, inclusive and equitable standards for grantmaking and management activities are the criteria by which Cleveland Neighborhood Progress invests in CDC activities and operations
Strategic Objective 7: Expand CDC opportunities for participation in shared services opportunities

The Placemaking team for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress works to improve the design and construction of the physical landscape across the city’s neighborhoods. The portfolio’s scope of work touches neighborhood planning and stabilization, housing, greenspace and vacant land, climate resilience, neighborhood promotion, and real estate development, financing, and lending. This includes the work of our two subsidiaries: Village Capital Corporation (a Community Development Finance Institution that provides construction and development lending to catalytic development projects across Cleveland) and New Village Corporation (a not-for-profit developer that engages in new construction, property rehabilitation, asset management, land assembly, and consulting services).

The 2017 – 2021 Strategic Plan positions the Placemaking staff to aggressively pursue a full complement of measurable goals that focus on improving the quality and value of housing in city neighborhoods and leverages our collective staff expertise. The Placemaking team will be purposeful in its actions and will work to ensure that its efforts complement and reinforce the work of our staff colleagues (also detailed in the strategic plan) and community partners. By setting our sights on goals such as rehabilitating a thousand units of housing, increasing the climate resilience of neighborhoods, and growing Cleveland’s population, the Neighborhood Progress Placemaking team will help sustain and enhance our vibrant city.

Placemaking Goal: More Clevelanders are living in vibrant, inclusive, and climate resilient neighborhoods.

What continues in pursuit of this goal:

  • Integration of VCC and NVC in placemaking work
  • Emphasis on housing
  • Focus on areas where current staff are strong
  • What is new and different:
  • More specific, measurable objectives and tactics
  • Integration of racial equity and inclusion lens
  • Selection of fewer, more targeted areas of focus; i.e., going deeper vs. wider
  • Intentional focus on areas of potential thought leadership
    (e.g., addressing displacement)

Strategic Objective 1: Maintain residential market values in all Cleveland neighborhoods and increase residential values by 15% in 3 weak-market neighborhoods
Strategic Objective 2: Proactively support and promote sustainable land use patterns
Strategic Objective 3: Advance effective community planning so every Cleveland neighborhood has a preferred vision for its future
Strategic Objective 4: Improve climate resiliency in Cleveland’s neighborhoods, with a particular focus on the 4 targeted neighborhoods in the Cleveland Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative
Strategic Objective 5: Achieve a 2% increase in new residents to the City of Cleveland by 2022 through retention and attraction strategies

Economic Opportunity is the critical link between Placemaking and CDC Services. We know that communities are not just the sum of the buildings within a defined geographic location; communities are places where people live, learn, work, and play. The Economic Opportunity portfolio keeps the organization focused on improving the lives of residents as an essential
strategy to holistically strengthen communities. As this portfolio has continued to be refined, we have begun to understand its role as a set of design principles, rather than programmatic activities. The efficacy of our comprehensive approach to community development depends on the integration of Economic Opportunity within the core functioning and strategic thinking of the organization.

As our most explicitly people-centric goal, the strategies included in the Economic Opportunity implementation section are designed to intentionally address structural racism and advance diversity, racial equity, and inclusion through our work. These themes greatly influence our efforts to increase opportunities for all Cleveland residents. We believe that Cleveland’s neighborhoods are strongest when more residents contribute to the local economy. When residents are empowered to open businesses, spend money in the neighborhood, and invest in their futures, the community benefits. When race and socioeconomic status do not determine a person’s opportunity to contribute to their community’s future, neighborhoods are more vibrant. We work to accomplish our vision for Cleveland’s neighborhoods by advancing strategies intended to:

  • Leverage the intersections between community and economic development
  • Build community wealth and support residents in attaining financial security
  • Increase access to good jobs and high-quality education
  • Address housing insecurity and preserve affordability
  • Ensure an equitable digital economy
  • Support community

Economic Opportunity Goal: More Cleveland residents have the education, income, skills and networks to thrive.

What continues in pursuit of this goal:

  • Emphasis on people
  • Refinement & growth of asset building strategy (CFC)
  • Racial equity, inclusion and integration

What is new and different:

  • Shift from largely programmatic interventions to research, policy & advocacy
  • People AND place and people IN place framework to integrate strategies organization-wide
  • Focus on digital inclusion and economy
Strategic Objective 1: Develop an informed and aligned approach to advance equitable community economic development (CED)
Strategic Objective 2: Support Cleveland families and neighborhoods in building financial security
Strategic Objective 3: Determine the role of the community development system in increasing economic mobility for Cleveland residents
Strategic Objective 4: Help ensure every child has access to high quality education in every neighborhood
Strategic Objective 5: Ensure an Equitable Digital Economy
Strategic Objective 6: Increase Resident Social Capital (Power Dynamics)
Strategic Objective 7: Increase understanding & awareness of the effects of housing insecurity on Cleveland residents & determine strategies to address housing insecurity, quality & affordability

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is a local community development funding intermediary with nearly thirty years of experience investing in community revitalization work in the city of Cleveland. It serves a unique function as the only local intermediary in the region and is proud to be nationally highlighted as a leader for engaging in best practices in various facets of nonprofit programming. The Board and staff will strive to enhance the reputation of the organization by improving internal capacity and leading industry partners on new and existing initiatives to improve the quality of Cleveland’s neighborhoods and the quality of life for Cleveland’s residents.

Since its inception in 1988, our organization has leveraged and fortified its capacity to serve as a Convener, Investor and Thought Leader. The organization plays a vital role in bringing together dynamic partners to build coalitions, facilitate collaboration, and create new solutions to persistent challenges. Though the organization has proven successful in this role, there exist opportunities to improve. We aspire to be an adaptive, learning organization that is even better prepared to strengthen the citywide community development system.

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress will continue to invest in the operating capacity of community development corporations (CDCs) and in the development of data-driven measurement tools to optimize their work. Through its wholly-owned subsidiaries New Village and Village Capital, we also invest in catalytic real estate projects intended to reignite residential and commercial development, and attract additional investment into the city of Cleveland.

Over the next five years, we will work to elevate our important role as an industry Thought Leader, which we believe will be immeasurably valuable to our capacity to serve as Convener and Investor. We will continue to promote best practices in the field of community development and advocate for the priorities of the industry. We understand that our unique positioning provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness for the many innovative strategies created by community development practitioners throughout Cleveland. However, considering the complexities and urgency of our work, there is a vital need for a unified voice to advocate for the most pressing policy priorities of the local community development industry. Going forward, evolution of the agenda will include: clear and concise goals for addressing the challenges within community development; engaging a stronger base of supporters; activating our robust network of organizers to respond to calls to action; and regular research produced by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and shared locally and nationally.

Finally, as an integral thought leader and investor in the community development industry, it is incumbent upon Cleveland Neighborhood Progress to lead the way in addressing structural racism—the root cause of racial inequality—through comprehensive community development. We must develop strategies that take into account all relevant factors—historical, social, economic, etc.—that influence the interaction between people and places. We must think intentionally about how we can create and sustain racial equity—the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, which results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone—through our work. We must also consider the ways that our industry can facilitate meaningful inclusion for residents of color.

Organizational Capacity Goal: Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is a high performing intermediary that attracts and leverages intellectual and financial resources to achieve our goals citywide.

What continues in pursuit of this goal:

  • Ensuring that CNP maintains and strengthens capacity to serve as an investor, convener, and thought leader for the local community development system
  • Promoting system-wide best practices and innovative strategies to advance the field of comprehensive community development
  • Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of Cleveland’s community development system to identify opportunities build capacity

What is new and different:

  • Increased emphasis on advancing racial equity and inclusion through comprehensive community development
  • Ensure that data used to monitor and evaluate progress is disaggregated by race/demographics
  • Continue to build and strengthened Policy & Advocacy efforts
  • Increased collaboration and engagement with external partners
  • Elevated role of thought leadership
  • Expanded use of research to inform strategy and decision-making, and to connect partners to industry best practices
  • Greater emphasis on engaging and mobilizing partners to increase resources for Cleveland’s community development system

Strategic Objective 1: Lead Cleveland’s network of community development stakeholders in advancing racial equity & inclusion through thought leadership, grantmaking, convening, and awareness buildingy
Strategic Objective 2: Advance a data-driven, research-informed urban policy agenda
Strategic Objective 4: Attract the resources necessary for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and its partners to achieve goals and maintain the highest standards of fiscal responsibility
Strategic Objective 5: Promote Cleveland’s comprehensive community development system and proactively engage stakeholders to strengthen relationships, elevate local and national profile, and advance best practices
Strategic Objective 6: Monitor and evaluate Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ and its partners’ impact on neighborhood outcomes
Strategic Objective 7: Deepen connections and investment of Board members’ time, talent and treasure to help Cleveland Neighborhood Progress identify and optimize opportunities, and mitigate risks
Strategic Objective 8: Ensure Cleveland Neighborhood Progress maintains staff capacity to support successful implementation of our strategic objectives

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress would like to thank the numerous community partners and stakeholders that participated in this strategic planning process. Specifically, we extend our gratitude to our Strategic Planning Task Force. The members listed below dedicated much of their time throughout 2016 to crafting this important plan.

Strategic Planning Task Force

Austin Boxler, Community Organizer, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization

Mark Chupp, Assistant Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve    University, Director of the International Education Program at the Mandel School.

John Corlett, President & Executive Director, The Center for Community Solutions

Michael Cosgrove, Assistant Director, Dept. of Community Development, City of Cleveland

Tom Coyne, Partner, ThompsonHine

Michael Fleming, Executive Director, St. Clair Superior Development

Karen Gahl-Mills, Executive Director, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

Grace Gallucci, Executive Director, NOACA

Anne Goodman, President & CEO, Saint Luke’s Foundation

Bob Jaquay, Associate Director, The George Gund Foundation

Mark Joseph, Associate Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, Director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities

Linda Kane, Principal, Geraldine Financial Consulting

Mark McDermott, Vice President, Ohio, Enterprise Community Partners

Anthony Moore, Esq.

India Pierce Lee, Program Director for Neighborhoods, Housing, and Community Development, Cleveland Foundation

The Very Reverend Tracey Lind, Dean, Trinity Cathedral

Richey Piiperinan,  Senior Research Associate, Lead at Center on Population Dynamics , Cleveland State University

Jeanetta Price, Executive Director, Union-Miles Development Corp.

Terrell Pruitt, Councilman (Ward 1), City of Cleveland

Joel Ratner, President & CEO, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

Jenny Spencer, Managing Director, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization

Michael Taylor, Sr. Vice President, West Territory Executive, PNC

Tim Tramble, Executive Director, Burten Bell Carr Development

Michael White, Program Officer, Mandel Foundation

Brian Zimmerman, CEO, Cleveland Metroparks

Planning Consultant: Amy Main Morgenstern, President, Main Stream

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