What is the Sustainable Communities Initiative?
The Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) is a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of neighborhoods. Instead of focusing narrowly on one area of community development, SCI tries to address the broad range of issues affecting a given community. Real neighborhood issues rarely exist in isolation. For example, it’s hard to help residents retain good jobs if they don’t have stable housing. If schools and neighborhoods are plagued by violence, there’s little chance of improving education. But when efforts are coordinated, their impact is multiplied.
SCI was created by Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), with the broad goal of making neighborhoods good places to live, work, and raise families. For more information, visit the SCI page.
What is LISC?
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has been working in cities and rural areas across the nation since 1981 to help residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity. LISC mobilizes corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with:
• loans, grants and equity investments
• local, statewide and national policy support
• technical and management assistance
LISC is a national organization with a community focus. Their program staff are based in every city and many of the rural areas where LISC-supported community development takes shape. In collaboration with local community development groups, LISC staff help identify priorities and challenges, delivering the most appropriate support to meet local needs.
Where is SCI active in Philadelphia?
Who does the SCI work?
SCI is a huge collaborative effort. In each site, LISC selects lead agencies to carry out the work in the community. These agencies are groups that have worked in the neighborhood for years and have shown strong commitment to its revitalization. Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) is the sole lead agency in SCI Eastern North, whereas SCI West is led by four agencies: People’s Emergency Center, University City District, The Partnership CDC, and The Enterprise Center CDC.
But SCI work goes far beyond LISC and the lead agencies. SCI depends on the support of residents, community groups, leaders, funders, City agencies, business owners, and many others to be successful. SCI is not about handing out services to the neighborhood; it’s about working with what is already there, finding ways to fill in gaps, and creatively building a network of organizations and individuals to make the community a great place to live.
How can I get involved?
There are many different ways you can support the initiative. The calendar pages for SCI Eastern North and SCI West list events related to SCI work. There are service days, festivals, planning meetings, art shows, and contests throughout the year.
But maybe more importantly, how are you involved in the neighborhood already? How do you want to be involved? SCI needs residents and community leaders that are interested in Sustainable Community goals to find out how they can involve themselves. Maybe you could pick up trash in a nearby park or hire residents at your local business. Or maybe you have ideas but need support to implement them. Let us know how you can help make the neighborhood a great community.