New initiative seeks Lake County neighborhood revitalization

2013-12-20T21:00:00Z 2013-12-20T21:23:40Z New initiative seeks Lake County neighborhood revitalizationLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 20, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | Building better neighborhoods throughout Lake County by investing in community development is the mission of Neighborhood Spotlight, a new partnership initiative unveiled Friday at a news conference hosted by the Legacy Foundation.

“It’s an exciting concept that combines leadership from public, private and not-for-profit sectors with engagement of residents of neighborhoods to address issues and problems that have been confounding us for years,” said Leigh Morris, interim president of the Legacy Foundation.

As Lake County’s leading philanthropic partner, Legacy Foundation will take a leadership role in this grant-making effort, he said.

“The tools and techniques (Neighborhood Spotlight) provides will transition declining areas into vibrant and healthy neighborhoods … (and) make Lake County a better place for generations to come,” Morris said.

A $70,000 grant from the Knight Foundation fund will allow the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development to design the Neighborhood Spotlight program in Lake County, said Bahia Ramos, director of community foundation with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Philanthropy cannot do it alone. It takes a sustained effort,” Ramos said of the initiative that will begin awarding grants for neighborhood stabilization and revitalization by the end of next year.

Speakers at the news conference highlighted the Gary Northside Redevelopment Area that involves a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation to redevelop four Gary neighborhoods.

This redevelopment aims to spark new life in the Aetna, Miller, downtown/Emerson and Ambridge-Horace Mann neighborhoods, said Antonio Riley, HUD regional administrator.

Neighborhood Spotlight will select two communities each year and provide grants and leadership to stabilize and revitalize those areas, Morris said.

“A community could be a subdivision of a town or a rural area that has a neighborhood quality to it,” he said. “There will be a different combination of partners (for each initiative).

Neighborhood Spotlight has five goals, said Robert Johnson, vice chairman of The Legacy Foundation.

These goals include “creating a common agenda to solve problems, holding each other accountable through shared measurement, incentivizing projects that are mutually reinforcing activities, engaging in continuous communication to motivate and build trust and managing expectations through backbone support,” Johnson said.

The event at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza brought together representatives from government, philanthropic foundations, nonprofit organizations and private businesses. They gathered to learn how the initiative can involve them as partners and/or grant recipients.

Johnson said all Lake County organizations are eligible to register for the first Neighborhood Spotlight informational sessions to be held at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza’s Ambassador Room.

Advanced registration at www.legacyfdn.org is required.

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