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2000 Best Practice Symposium

Workshop Session Summary:
Neighborhood Networks Track

Resident Participation in Neighborhood Networks Centers


Christine Pelosi, Special Counsel

Room: Hamilton


Betty Milton, Director, Browns Woods Neighborhood Networks Center
Jerry Garcia, ICF Consulting
James Marshall, Atlantic Gardens Learning Center
Jamaal Ramsey, Atlantic Gardens Learning Center

The essential components of building a Neighborhood Networks Center are designing strategies that involve residents and developing partnerships among local businesses. This session offered hands on advice from those currently running centers and shared stories from residents participating in the centers.

"I am standing here today because of Atlantic Gardens Learning Center, it is a good thing for the kids, it keeps the kids educated, it keeps them out of trouble. Once you are around positive people you become positive," says 22-year old Jamaal Ramsey, a participant of the Atlantic Gardens Learning Center since 1986.

As an opening to the session, Jerry Garcia, offered eight essential steps to developing a Neighborhood Networks Center. Session participants then shared their hardships and triumphs in implementing and sustaining centers. The eight steps were identified as:

  1. Get residents involved in the initial planning phase of the center. Involve the community on the ground level and see what their needs are.

  2. Design the center around the local population by doing surveys and going door to door in the community.

  3. Build trust and credibility among the people by involving local block clubs, and neighborhood associations.

  4. Recruit influential people and groups like elderly residents who may know their neighbors and local businesses that have established a presence in the community.

  5. Identify and target specific populations like the elderly, and disabled and address their needs in the center by offering wider screens, more comfortable chairs, and more accessible accommodations.
  6. Partner with local businesses to provide gift certificates and other incentives to the residents who visit the center.

  7. Address any barriers that may inhibit residents from coming to the center. Offer child care facilities onsite, or longer hours for working residents.

  8. Get the word out about the program through potluck dinners, open houses, or a series of informational meetings. Reach out to the community through partnerships with local teachers and social workers.

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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