Dear supporter of South Bend neighborhoods,
We've recently learned that the City of South Bend proposes to cut its support for NRC in half.
Even though the stated focus of the 2019 budget is neighborhoods, the current draft calls for NRC’s funding to be reduced by 50% in 2019.
If this happens, NRC could be forced to cut programs, technical assistance, staffing, and grant support for neighborhoods as early as January. Even though 2018 has been a remarkable year of progress for NRC -- and for the neighborhood organizations we support -- all of that momentum could be lost.
If you believe that a genuine focus on South Bend neighborhoods requires more support for neighborhood organizations, not less, then the time to say so is now.
Please speak up for neighborhoods on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 4:40 p.m.
The public budget hearing for the Department of Community Investment is set for Tuesday, September 11 at 5:00 p.m. It's your opportunity to share your thoughts on the proposed budget.
Can you help? If so, here’s how:
Please join us at the Council chambers on Tuesday, September 11, at 4:40 p.m. to send this message: a genuine focus on South Bend neighborhoods requires more support for neighborhood organizations, not less.
- Pack the room. Even if you don’t plan to speak, your presence will say a lot. Arrive no later than 4:40 p.m. The hearing starts at 5:00 on the 4th floor of the County City building, but the room will be determined by the number of people present beforehand so please arrive early. We’ll also distribute nametags or some other colorful insignia. Wear NRC blue if you have it.
- Prepare a statement. Keep it short. Thirty seconds is ideal. Include your full name and address - it's required.
- Write a letter. If you can’t make it Tuesday (or even if you can), please submit a written comment here -- preferably by Monday, Sept. 10. We'll compile them and submit them to city leaders. You may also contact your Council representatives directly. Remember, you have four: your district, and three at-large. Find their contact information here.
Strengthening neighborhoods is an inside job
At NRC, we know a city is only as strong as its neighborhoods. We also know the best way to make neighborhoods stronger is from the inside.
We're excited to see the budget propose funding for things like streets, home improvement, and code enforcement. Those are important. But they aren’t the most critical components of stronger neighborhoods. The critical component is neighbors coming together -- associating -- to take ownership and be the producers of their own quality of life instead of just consumers.
Proposed budget cut weakens neighborhood organizations
Unfortunately, the proposed $388 million budget promotes the opposite. While the proposed $700,000 for sidewalks or $20.9 million for parks respond to neighbors' requests today, the planned reduction (just $50,000) to NRC’s support for neighborhood organizations will diminish their ability to be heard tomorrow.
We’ve seen this before. When South Bend’s Neighborhood Partnership Centers were closed in 2007, the neighborhoods they supported lost an important voice. Some of the neighborhood organizations disbanded and have not returned.
Now we may see it again.
This cut sends an unfortunate message to neighborhood organizations: that your neighborhood is better served by outside programs. That your efforts to improve your neighborhood from the inside are less important. That the 50% of South Bend neighborhoods that are unserved by a neighborhood organization should stay that way.
Commitment to neighborhoods requires commitment to organizations
We know neighborhood organizations shouldn’t replace outside programs, but they should help shape them. They are the partners who should work with resource providers to identify neighborhood needs and set priorities.
If the City intends to genuinely support neighborhoods, then the 2019 budget should support the neighborhood organizers who lead change most effectively -- from the inside.
NRC supports neighborhood organizations
NRC is the only nonprofit organization in South Bend dedicated to improving the quality of life in South Bend neighborhoods by helping neighbors build better neighborhoods from the inside.
Thanks to the City’s increased funding for NRC in 2018 -- the first increase in a decade -- NRC has helped some of these organizations regain their voice, and is on track to do the same for others. We have delivered two Neighborhood Leadership Academy programs in less than one year, launched the first ever Block Party Toolkit, scheduled a full series of workshops, and strengthened our one-on-one support of neighborhood organizations through coaching, visioning facilitation, technical assistance grants, and other resources.
Through increased program development and marketing, we are building and strengthening important foundations by identifying what strong neighborhood organizations should look like and communicating those foundations to neighborhood leaders in new ways.
In just the past seven months, NRC has been more visible and more effective in supporting the leaders of South Bend neighborhoods than in the past several years.
Disrupting that progress now -- when we’re on a roll -- is like telling a pilot when he gets to the end of the runway that he can’t take off.
Speak up on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 4:40 p.m.
Please join us Tuesday, September 11, at 4:40 p.m. to send the message that a genuine focus on South Bend neighborhoods requires more support for neighborhood organizations, not less. Pack the room at 4:40 p.m., prepare a short statement to deliver at the meeting, and submit a written comment here in advance.
And most of all, keep making your South Bend neighborhoods better... from the inside out.
Diana Hess, Executive Director
Scott Palmer, Director of Programs & Marketing
Ron Silverman, Board President