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New Communities Network

LISC Chicago’s New Communities Network is rooted in 35 years of work with community-based partners in Chicago neighborhoods. It serves community leaders and nonprofit organizations in about half of the city’s 77 community areas.

The Network grew from the New Communities Program (NCP), which was the nation’s largest demonstration of comprehensive community development. Operating from 2003 to 2013 with support from the MacArthur Foundation and many others, NCP set new standards in the field with its combination of neighborhood-led planning, centralized support systems and sophisticated technical assistance. Over 10 years, it supported quality-of-life planning in 16 neighborhoods and leveraged more than $600 million in new investment as those plans were implemented. NCP brought tangible, visible improvements to neighborhoods and their residents. 

Today, the NCP approach is embedded in every aspect of LISC’s operations. The NCP Network is a platform for community planning, skills development, neighborhood investment and innovative practices. Through the Network, LISC is serving more neighborhoods and partners than ever before, providing different levels of support depending on the community and its organizational capacity. 

LISC supports Network neighborhoods in three categories, and welcomes new communities and organizations through emerging partnerships that can lead to Network participation. 

  1. ALLIES. A high-capacity lead agency in these neighborhoods has a proven track record and ability to implement major programs in collaboration with other neighborhood organizations and LISC Chicago. The community has a robust network of nonprofit organizations that work together to implement projects and programs developed through quality-of-life planning or issue-specific plans. LISC provides various types of support including loans, grants, training and technical assistance, depending on the interests and goals of local partners.
  2. PLANNING PARTNERS. These neighborhoods are actively involved in planning processes or are beginning implementation of a recent community plan. They are building stronger networks among local organizations, businesses and residents; seeking better integration of strategies among partners; and building the capacity of local organizations. LISC provides support to the planning processes and additional grants and technical assistance to launch “early action” projects and larger, multi-year efforts. These partnerships are intensive over a period of two to five years.
  3. LEGACY NEIGHBORHOOD PARTNERS. LISC maintains supportive relationships with community partners that participated in the New Communities Program, inviting their participation in Network convenings, trainings and special grant opportunities. These neighborhoods have at least one or two partners who engage with LISC initiatives.

To keep the door open to new partnerships, LISC Chicago provides limited support to FRIENDS OF LISC. These are neighborhoods and organizations that have expressed interest in the LISC methodology and who have participated in one or more exploratory efforts with LISC and other partners.

For more information about the New Communities Network and its reach into neighborhoods across the city, see LISC’s 2015 brochure, Citywide. Neighborhood Deep

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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