1:13 p.m., March 24, 2011----In early 2008 the University of Delaware Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS) joined forces with the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of Pittsburgh to become only the third region in the country to co-sponsor the Blueprint Communities initiative. Blueprint Communities provides intensive training, technical assistance, coaching as well as initial seed funding to competitively selected neighborhoods throughout the state to help them formulate plans to revitalize their communities.
On Friday, March 18, six Blueprint Communities were recertified, allowing for additional funding opportunities as well as in-kind donations that will provide the resources necessary for the communities to implement their revitalization efforts. The six teams receiving the recertification were Eastside, Edgemoor, Hilltop/Little Italy, Historic Overlook Colony Vicinity, Riverside, and Simonds Gardens.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and U.S. Rep. John Carney joined George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, CCRS Director Steven Peuquet in congratulating the six teams, which have made tremendous strides in rebuilding their neighborhoods and addressing issues that are unique to each.
“We are very pleased with the commitment and accomplishments to date of Delaware's Blueprint planning teams,” Peuquet said, adding, “Revitalizing communities is hard work, and it's clear that the six teams being recertified are committed to leading sustained efforts to make their communities the best that they can be. The model for the Blueprint program is based on strong partnerships, partnerships within neighborhoods and across neighborhoods. We are pleased to help these partnerships grow and succeed.”
Training, technical support and continued advisement from CCRS faculty, staff and graduate students have allowed for each team to develop leadership and strategic planning capabilities. As a result, each team has made great strides in identifying key neighborhood objectives and future goals.
Since its 2008 inception, the Blueprint Communities project has secured $225,000 from Jessie Ball duPont Fund for follow up training and technical assistance; $100,000 from Delaware Community Investment Corporation for initial seed monies; and $465,000 from FHLBank in affordable housing and small business lending.
Much of the success of Blueprint Communities Delaware comes from the unique collaboration of local residents, neighborhood businesses and community stakeholders with professional assistance from organizations such as FHLBank and CCRS. As Carney noted, “The strength of the Blueprint Communities program is that it provides the skills and resources that allow community leaders to develop their own vision of a strong, vibrant neighborhood.”
Some of the noteworthy successes the teams have experienced since 2008 include:
- The receipt of a Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant that will assist in the conversion of an old school into a community center/government offices;
- The creation of the ERC Resource House by the Edgemoor team that will serve as a location for afterschool programming and facility for meetings between providers and community members;
- Increase in small business development in the Hilltop/Little Italy community;
- Improved landscaping and signage in Historic Overlook Colony Vicinity;
- The acquisition of $1 million in federal stimulus funding that will go toward the demolition of aging public housing and the construction of 368 new units and multipurpose community centers in the Riverside community; and
- The development of an outdoor entertainment center in Simonds Gardens vicinity.
For more information on this or other CCRS programs, please call 302-831-6780 or visit the website.
Photos by Evan Krape