Advancement of Civic Engagement by Community Foundations in Low Income African American Communities

1598 Words7 Pages
The role of civic engagement in neighborhood revitalization, particularly in low income African American communities, has gained increased awareness and in recent years. Community, nonprofit, and government leaders now view civic engagement as a critical component of effective solutions as they seek to address crime, unemployment, low graduation rates and numerous other neighborhood challenges. Several successful initiatives have come to fruition and provide strong evidence of the benefits that increased civic engagement provides. Experts commonly define civic engagement as individual and group actions that collectively address general issues of concern that are public in nature. Civic engagement takes many forms such…show more content…
Such efforts are by no means new as neighborhood revitalization through the civic engagement of residents in low income communities has long been a funding priority of the philanthropic community. The African American community in particular, hard hit by social and economic challenges, presents many opportunities for the increased civic engagement on the part of residents to promote changes in approaches and strategies. Community foundations have the resources and commitment to community revitalization to make significant inroads into solving the problems in low income communities. Tester, Ruel, Anderson, Reitzes, and Oakley (2011) describe issues such as urban renewal as directly responsible for the decline and destruction of low-income African American communities. They argue that strategies such as relocating residents of public housing and high crime areas for example are not solutions to the root cause of the problem – lack of support, inadequate resources, and isolation. Further, relocating residents of these communities does not result in improved quality of life. In fact, those moved out of one low income community typically migrate to a similar type of community that is usually only a few miles from where they originally resided. It is at the community level in everyday activities that citizens can experience the most measurable and impactful degree of civic engagement.
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