Process Guiding Principles
The BECDD process is laser-focused on creating a community development system that will result in strong neighborhoods across the whole city. This process recognizes Seven System Elements that are the critical building blocks to ensuring successful community development work in Detroit.The following tenets underpin our process at every step:
- Collaboration is critical at every level. We believe a community development system is at its best if it’s developed collaboratively by all key stakeholders. From the very beginning, we’ve combined the wisdom and experience of stakeholders across all categories: academia, business/corporations, CDO practitioners, city government, grass roots organizations, intermediary organizations, philanthropy and citywide institutions. At the end of every calendar year since 2016, we’ve convened an annual summit where all stakeholders share their work and recommendations, discuss key issues in community development and develop consensus through a facilitated process.
- Recognition of the singularity of the Detroit experience while learning from other cities. We understand that the unique challenges and successes of community development in Detroit are just as important as the learnings we gather from community development practices in other cities. We recognize that because Detroit’s level of disinvestment is far greater than all other large U.S. cities, Detroit may have to invent its own unique solutions that also incorporate lessons from other cities.
- The importance of ground-level wisdom. We believe that grass-roots leaders and local community development practitioners who do the work on the ground have invaluable insight on why some strategies work and why, historically, some may have not worked. They also bring candor to and focus on the root-cause problems facing our neighborhoods and within the field of community development.
Our Process in Action
Clarifying and understanding the root problem.
Our first goal was to understand why community development was not working like it could work for our neighborhoods. To develop this analysis, we convened a series of eight Kitchen Cabinets, meetings where like stakeholders could candidly speak about the challenges of community development in Detroit. Next, we formed temporary subcommittees, mixing the stakeholders together, to review that analysis and lay a roadmap for the process in the ensuing years.
By the end of 2016, we completed a Detroit-led analysis of the problem, a set of 7 System Elements fundamental to ensuring successful community development work in Detroit, and a beginning sense of what the solutions might be
As we entered Phase Two, which was intended to be a more intense period of research and strategy formation, we sponsored a Kick-Off event to update our stakeholders and prepare them for the next phase.
Forming an Advisory Council.
We appointed an Advisory Council comprising 38 high-level leaders from all stakeholder categories. This group was formed to advise on strategy, and eventually create a structure for coordination/oversight. The largest cohort of stakeholders are CDOs.
Listening to everyday people.
A traveling discussion series called “Real Change, Real Talk” was instituted — one event in each Council District — where an open-mic format was used to learn how everyday Detroiters feel and think about specific topics related to neighborhoods.
Research and analysis.
We commissioned LTU to conduct an academic scan of national and international best practices, and to look at whether our “7 System Elements” were valid from the research. We also commissioned a team of five national Community Development experts to study 5 cities that had mature community development systems, and provide lessons and recommendations for Detroit. Simultaneously, we formed three stakeholder planning teams: Research/Data/Evaluation, Capacity Building and Certification, Career and Eduction Pathways. These groups received the research, applied the learnings to the 2016 analysis, and by focusing on these important topics, developed a set of specific challenges that would have to be resolved during 2018 in order to build the desired system.
Creating a structure and process for system coordination and oversight.
The Advisory Council began the process of creating a coordination/oversight structure.
Forming key strategies.
Our work involved creating critical strategies in response to the challenges identified the previous year. Six Task Forces (City Partnership, Defining Neighborhoods, Intermediary System, Leadership Pipeline, Success Framework, Vision and Values) were created with specific deliverables, including producing conceptual models to pilot-test, on the way to building out the system elements..
Continuing to listen.
The Real Change, Real Talk discussion series continued through each City Council District with two special meeting: one at Eastern Market and one at the new Co.Act Detroit space in the New Center neighborhood.
Building Out the Seven System Elements
System Governance Element
A “Building the Engine Steering Committee” stepped forward in 2019, comprised of 15 stakeholder organizations representing our broad diversity of stakeholders. Known as the BSC, this group has been:
- overseeing the last phase of the BECDD system-building process
- working with experts to design and launch the overall “system governance” structure and process using a multi-stakeholder collaborative framework strategy
- shepherding and overseeing the design and testing of 5 “system projects” that were developed out of the 2018 Task Forces
- guiding the work of with multiple task forces, coalitions and discussion groups to finalize the long-term system capitalization strategy
- working with council district stakeholders to explore a district model for community development in all seven districts
Leadership Pipeline, Capacity Building, Data & Evaluation, Neighborhood Voice and City Engagement System Elements
Several of our engaged stakeholder organizations are stepped forward in 2019 as “Implementation Teams” to test and build-out the project concepts that were created in 2018:
- Community Development Leadership Pipeline: 4 Lead CDOs (CRCAA, COC, ECN, UNI)
- Community Development Capacity Building Delivery System: CDAD w/ MCR, Co.act, Enterprise Detroit, MNA
- Neighborhood Voice and Advocacy Framework: CDAD
- Neighborhood Vitality Index: Data Driven Detroit and JFM Consulting
- Rebuilding Home Together: Detroit Future City/Housing Compact
w/ 8 CDOs, DLBA, City of Detroit
This process was supported in 2020 through a regular series of “Stakeholder Forums” where all community development stakeholders met for authentic discussion and problem solving with a focus on equity in neighborhoods.
System Capitalization Element:
- The System Capitalization Task Force, which also sponsored:
- Community Development Funder’s Discussion Group
- City-CDO Weekly Conversations (through early 2021)
- Alignment Forums (starting in 2021)
- Statewide “Neighborhoods and Communities Coalition” (NACC)
Transition of System Building Work to a Permanent Host Institution
In mid-2020, the BECDD Steering Committee invited CDAD (Community Development Advocates of Detroit) to serve as the permanent institutional host for the community development system that BECDD is working to build.
During 2021, the BECDD Steering Committee and CDAD Board worked with consultants to discuss and finalize a transition structure and process, whereby CDAD will work with a jointly-appointed “System Building Committee” to a) oversee and administer the rest of the system-building process and b) integrate the system into CDAD’s ongoing work.
On June 15, 2021, the BECDD Steering Committee and CDAD Board jointly approved a transition structure and process to fully embed the BECDD system-building work into CDAD. The detailed work is now in process to implement this transition.
As of June 15, 2021 the work of Building the Engine is now being overseen by CDAD through its Executive Director, Madhavi Reddy and Board. Maggie DeSantis remains engaged as a consultant working with CDAD. The BECDD Steering Committee will work with the CDAD Board to appoint the “System Building Committee.” The BECDD System Capitalization Task Force will remain in place, reporting to both the CDAD Board and the newly-formed System Building Committee. The current system-building work as described will continue.