Since the mid-1980s, community development partnerships have attracted increased attention to the CDCs’ need for organizational development and operating support. These partnerships have made deliberate efforts to increase the ability of the neighborhood corporations to be more effective community developers. Many CDPs are organized with support from The Ford Foundation. As associations of local funders, however, these partnerships are “home-grown” vehicles designed to provide coordinated assistance to CDCs. Community foundations administer some CDPs, some are independently organized, the local offices of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation manage several, while others collaborate with the Enterprise Foundation for services. They share the common belief that operating support should be linked to CDC performance and accountability. By becoming more skilled, CDCs should be better able to produce benefits for their neighborhoods, these collaboratives argue. This report summarizes our findings from interviews and focus groups with representatives from a wide range of CDCs and community development partnerships across the country about their experience with capacity building.
Between November 1996 and July 1997, we met with representatives of more than 50 CDCs in seven cities (Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, and Washington, DC). For the CDP interviews, we spoke with more than 40 CDP representatives in these cities, and with the CDP in New Orleans. We also held a one-day roundtable discussion with eight partnership directors (mostly from the East Coast, including the directors from Camden, Newark, and Pittsburgh). All of the interviews were conducted on a confidential basis.