In August 2012, a cross-sector group led by the city of Fresno was selected to participate in the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP), a federal program that provides targeted technical assistance to build capacity in distressed neighborhoods to “collectively solve problems, identify access and leverage existing resources, and put improvements in place.”7 BNCP called for applicants to form a broad-based partnership, and the cross-sector group that had been brought together by the embedded HUD team member was instrumental in applying for and then implementing the program in Fresno. The capacity-building and technical assistance activities provided through BNCP supported neighborhood revitalization efforts in two low-income city neighborhoods, El Dorado Park and Southwest.
At the time of the SC2 assessment, Fresno had developed a promising approach to neighborhood stabilization in its Lowell neighborhood. The assessment included a recommendation that the city apply similar strategies to other high-poverty neighborhoods. The team member explored options for moving this work forward; it identified the BNCP grant as a timely opportunity. City leadership eventually decided to pursue being part of the program because they placed a high degree of trust in the HUD team member’s recommendations and also recognized the value of her strategic planning expertise. Once the decision to submit a proposal was made, it was necessary to bring community partners and matching grant funders on board. This involved holding conversations with representatives of community groups and philanthropic organizations to describe how the program would benefit their communities and resolving disagreements that arose. Stakeholders in Fresno credited the team member’s involvement as important to attracting organizations that might not otherwise have attended the meetings.
After Fresno was selected as a BNCP community, the cross-sector partnership created to apply for the program continued to meet in order to oversee the work. Now that implementation is well underway, Fresno is documenting successful practices and working to institutionalize the lessons learned. Fresno has also been offered the opportunity to expand BNCP activities to a third neighborhood.