Equitable Development Toolkit

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Organization:

New Kensington Community Development Corporation

City:

Philadelphia

State:

Pennsylvania

Organization Overview:

NKCDC advances social equity & economic empowerment by nurturing and creating opportunities for residents to live and actively shape their neighborhoods of choice. New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) provides free housing counseling to anyone in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and offers many additional resources to residents and businesses in the Kensington, Fishtown, and Port Richmond neighborhoods. We use a strategic combination of real estate development, community engagement, and people-centered direct services to ensure all of our neighbors can remain—and thrive—where they choose to live. Whether we are building affordable housing or helping residents build their wealth, we pledge to promote equity, stability, and safety in all we do, with a sharp focus on those most at risk of being displaced. 

We at NKCDC recognize the historical role that race has played in our society and the ways it shapes the systems that impact our work and everyday lives. We believe striving for racial equity is essential to fulfilling our mission—working with neighbors to strengthen communities so everyone can thrive. Community Development Corporations (CDCs) have long been tasked with revitalizing vulnerable communities that have been denied investment and opportunity. With our constituents, we work to make community development a force that benefits and is directed by the diverse communities we serve. We challenge the systems that prevent people from reaching their potential and pave the way for long-term equitable access to opportunity.

Project Name:

Equitable Development Toolkit
Project Type: 
Program Development

Project Overview:

We would like a Fels student to compile an inventory of policy tools, community actions, strategies, etc. that support equitable practices and outcomes in land development. The end goal is to collaboratively development community education materials that will be used by NKCDC to engage community members and hopefully grow equitable development champions in our community. This project will support NKCDC’s capacity to; advocate for equitable development within our service area and Philadelphia as a whole; share information that will allow for residents and other community members to increase their own capacity for advocacy and organizing around development concerns. Strengthen our ability to become a more equitable city, and a city where development works as a tool to address our most pressing community needs.

Context: As an organization we have made the intentional decision to refocus our service priorities to the area of Kensington north of Lehigh Avenue. We continue to engage with the business and arts communities in Fishtown and Kensington south of Lehigh Ave., however, NKCDC’s previous efforts in this area have supported economic growth and stability which has led to a healthier and more engaged economy of small businesses. The economic growth and development however has played a large part in the displacement of previously existing residents, businesses, and culture, and the benefits of said economic growth have not been shared throughout the community in an equitable manner. 

Kensington north of Lehigh Avenue is a vibrant and diverse community with a history of strong resident engagement and leadership. The area presents many strengths but also significant challenges including the devastating effects of the Opioid Crisis. A plethora of factors have placed this neighborhood in a position very vulnerable to the negative effects of predicted gentrification and rapid development. We hope to equip ourselves and our neighbors with the tools necessary for the community to actively work against displacement of residents and businesses and to ensure the Kensington continues to be a diverse community.

Project Activities: 
• Research local and national models of neighborhood development frameworks that apply the lens of trauma-informed and racially equitable practices.
• Review research and community engagement done on the topic of equitable development in Kensington and other Philadelphia neighborhoods to date.
• Identify specific “tools” for the toolkit aimed at two identified audiences: 1. developers, property owners and policymakers, 2. Residents and advocates for equitable development in the Kensington neighborhood.
• Compile a detailed inventory of identified tools including; summary, who, what, when, where, how step-by-step process, case study examples, etc.
• Work closely with NKCDC staff to develop an equitable development statement/definition
• Present preliminary drafts of the toolkit to NKCDC staff and a selection of stakeholders including non-profits, resident leadership, business leadership, and for-profit developers in order to receive multifaceted input. 
• Work closely with NKCDC staff to ways in which the toolkit can be implemented and distributed. 

Final deliverables will be determined collaboratively with our Fels Lab student partner. Below are tentative deliverables and timeline:
Deliverable 1: Final project proposal, timeline, and deliverables
Deliverable 2: Preliminary inventory of tools
Deliverable 3: Presentation of draft inventory and best practice examples
Deliverable 4: Final content to be workshopped with stakeholders
Deliverable 5: Recommendations for “curriculum” instructions
Deliverable 6: Conversion of toolkit to a digital platform 

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu