Successful communities have a “community champion”

Successful urban neighborhoods need strong community-based organizations that can access and effectively use resources to help sustain and develop the communities where they are located.

When one thinks of a community champion, the thought may be a person or group that advocates on behalf of the community. However, my definition of community champions transcends advocacy.  Real neighborhood development will require resources and organizations that can access and use resources to create successful urban neighborhoods. Local communities need well-organized, well-funded community-based organizations whose mission is to focus on community sustainability.

In some communities in Detroit, the community champion may be a faith-based organization such as The Church of the Messiah Community Development Corporation, a non-profit working on the eastside of Detroit. Another community champion group is U-SNAP-BAC. Both organizations have had a long history of helping to redevelop neighborhoods by building affordable housing and the associated infrastructure. While this example focuses primarily on housing, many of these champion organizations provide a variety of assistance and services to the communities where they are located. 

Champion organizations act as intermediaries between the community, the city government, foundations and other community organizations. These groups know and understand the unique challenges and opportunities of their respective neighborhoods. In some instances, they have learned these lessons through a difficult process of trial and error. Their greatest testament to their success is their ability to endure; their ability to carry out their mission and to find funding to sustain the work that is done on the neighborhood level. These organizations provide a valuable role to the communities they serve and to the city of Detroit.    

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