POSTED: May 23rd, 2012 • Latest News

Walter Wright, project director of the Greater University Circle Community Wealth Building Initiative at the The Cleveland Foundation, writes about the Twin Cities’ community engagement initiative and how Cleveland is shaping its efforts. Read about it in The Catalyst >

POSTED: May 22nd, 2012 • Latest News

In 2011, the Community Engagement Team worked with a community grant review committee to recommend 10 community engagement grants across four transit corridors. These projects will help on-the-ground community groups  to engage and involve residents in the planning process along developing transit corridors.  While still in the early stages, these projects have already built bridges between corridor managers and local government entities, and drawn hundreds of people to discussions about what they want the future of their communities to be.  The deliberate focus on engaging and involving people from traditionally underrepresented constituencies is changing the story of engagement and equity in our region.

One of the elements that we committed to in our work plan was a commitment to iterative evaluation. After completing the first round of community grant review, we worked with Wilder Foundation to design an evaluation of the grant review process with two big questions in mind: 1) was the process effective and 2) was the process credible.  The folks at Wilder interviewed people all along the spectrum of the grant process, from organizations who did not apply for grants, to organizations who applied and did not receive grants, to those who did, to review committee members, to  Policy Board members.

The evaluation study found that the people interviewed shared:

  1. A strong community belief in having a community review committee.
  2. A sense that the information provided and the CET’s assistance throughout the process was helpful, and that the timing and sequencing was useful in understanding the committee’s decisions
  3. A sense that the process was strongly grounded in the values of corridors of opportunity and the CET.

The evaluation also revealed several areas for improvement and clarification in the process. These included a desire for:

  1. More clarity about the specific review criteria. To address this, the proposal review criteria were included in the grant guidelines released for the 2012 funding cycle.
  2. More  clarity about the conflict of interest policy that grant review committee members adhere to. The conflict of interest policy has now been added to our Grants page for all stakeholders to view.
  3. Early, ongoing and transparent information sharing with the Corridors of Opportunity Policy Board and staff. The CET always strives to provide current and transparent information to the Policy Board, but we are improving and reinforcing some of our pratices this year. The Policy Board will receive a copy of all documents related to the grants process. All grant proposals — those recommended for funding and those not — will be shared with the Policy Board in 2012. The Policy Board will also receive copies of the conflict of interest policy and a detailed explanation of how committee members recused themselves from decisions when a conflict of interest arose.

Overall, The evaluation revealed a strong sense that the the grant process was viewed as both effective and credible. With the modifications we are proposing for the 2012 funding cycle, we hope to address the few concerns that were raised about last year’s process. For more, please read the full evaluation conducted by Wilder Research.