In partnership with LISC/Chicago, the MacArthur Foundation, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the Metropolitan Chicago Information Center (MCIC), and others, MDRC is building a body of knowledge about the implementation, achievements, and challenges of the NCP approach to neighborhood revitalization. Towards this end, the research is documenting:
- The implementation of NCP over time. The research is examining how the NCP model is implemented, what challenges emerge, how they are addressed, and how momentum is sustained. Researchers are paying particularly close attention to ways that organizational capacity is built and relationships among organizations are established and to the extent these capacities and relationships leverage additional investments in communities. In the context of the downturn in economic conditions, the research is also examining how NCP builds and sustain partnerships to “move to scale” and what strategies it employs to respond to local crises.
- NCP’s interaction with public policy. The research is examining areas in which public policies, especially at the local and state level, emerged as important to NCP action in neighborhoods; ways actors attempt to influence policy; and the results of these efforts. In particular, it is examining how initiative-wide priorities become supported by internal and external stakeholders and the extent to which NCP’s policy influence grows over time. This line of inquiry addresses how lower-income neighborhoods attempt local improvement by engaging in efforts to inform public policy and attempt to take advantage of federal and local governments’ new generation of urban initiatives.
- The reach of NCP action and change. This line of inquiry is describing location of projects and investments within NCP neighborhoods, how investments co-locate with other major public and private investments, and how significant investments correspond to levels or changes in neighborhood quality-of-life measures. The goal of this inquiry is to understand how dispersed and/or concentrated NCP projects and investments are within selected neighborhoods and to explore how these spatially targeted investments correlate with neighborhood conditions.
- Patterns of community change. As NCP supports a broad range of interventions to improve neighborhoods, the research is examining varied quality-of-life indicators in the neighborhoods targeted by the initiative. The research is also tracking how different NCP communities fared in the economic downturn and whether they experienced notably different conditions than comparable neighborhoods in Chicago. Beyond monitoring neighborhood conditions, the research is exploring neighborhood change dynamics — that is, examining how neighborhood investments and conditions are related to each other and how the relationships among neighborhood quality outcomes are sequenced over time.
For methodological reasons, the study will not permit a formal assessment of the impacts of NCP across Chicago. Nonetheless, the research is exploring ways that a variety of social, economic, and policy factors may be working together to support community change and the possibility that concentrated investments in certain places may be in alignment with positive local changes.