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Ideas that work

When the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund decided to put together a book on reversing poverty, they called on experts for solutions.
Neighborhood Centers’ Angela Blanchard contributes essay to important new book on eliminating poverty

One name at the top of their list was Angela Blanchard, President and CEO of Houston’s Neighborhood Centers Inc.
Blanchard’s eloquent essay — “People Transforming Communities. For Good.” — is included in the book, “Investing in What Works for America’s Communities,” published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund.

The book’s official launch happens in early December in Washington, D.C. On Dec. 4th, media, stakeholders and policymakers are invited to engage in a public discussion from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. Free hard copies of the book may be ordered or downloaded now from the project website: www.whatworksforamerica.org. Watch the live webcast and follow the Twitter discussion at #whatworks on December 4th from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET. Get the link to the webcast here!Blanchard will speak at 10:20 a.m.

Also in the book: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius contribute an essay on public policy. AGree’s Cynthia Duncan writes on community development in rural America. And Sister Lillian Murphy and Janet Falk of Mercy Housing discuss “The Need for a New Model in Housing and Community Development.”

Blanchard joins a prestigious list of contributors that includes three presidential cabinet members; researchers from Harvard University, the Brookings Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and community practitioners such as Shirley Franklin (Purpose Built Communities) and Ben Hecht (Living Cities). The book was edited by the Low Income Investment Fund’s Nancy O. Andrews and the Fed’s David J. Erickson. Ian Galloway and Ellen S. Seidman are contributing editors.

“There are some folks out there who we knew we wanted to include, and of course Angela is one of those people,” said Galloway, a researcher with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Center for Community Development Investments. “She is a vocal advocate for an integrated approach to community development, and we really feel like that is the next phase of the industry, that this scattershot, spread-the-peanut-butter-around-and-hope-for-the-best approach is not going to get us where we need to go.”

According to Galloway, Neighborhood Centers is one only a “handful” of organizations who espouse such a collaborative approach. “What Angela is talking about and what she is doing in the industry is rare,” he said. “We were just really fortunate that she was so agreeable to it and that she wrote such a compelling piece.”

In her essay, Blanchard imagines the community-development table “as a giant potluck where the dishes, plates and morsels are contributed from many sources.” Writing that Houston’s greatest asset is its people and that neighborhood leaders already exist and can aid a challenged community. She said: “We build on strengths and skills. You can’t build on broken.”