Sustainable Organization

Long-term, effective neighborhood revitalization necessitates knitting together many varied threads of activity. Factors as distinct as safety, building conditions, income levels, public school performance, cleanliness, and residents' level of engagement play a significant role in neighborhood stability. Coordinating activities and programs that can identify and address problems across this diverse spectrum calls for an organization capable of operating flexibly and efficiently, often through partnering with other groups and public agencies.

One of the most difficult challenges of the Main Street program is ensuring that efforts in a given community continue after public funding for operations ends (typically lasting five years in length). Because neighborhood revitalization generally is a much longer effort, Elm Street organizations need to be able to continue beyond the state program's projected funding cycle (also five years in duration). True sustainability stretches into the areas of leadership, governance, finances, and staffing.

An organization that is sustainable will:

  • Be getting results — visibly making a difference.
  • Be entrepreneurial and have diversified funding sources.
  • Be partnering with organizations/agencies in housing, public works, employment, and other varied revitalization concerns.
  • Attract and retain volunteers and garner in-kind donations.
  • Have credibility within the neighborhood and the community at large and be at the table when the neighborhood is involved in important initiatives

Improving organizational sustainability could include:

  • Providing/attending staff and volunteer development and training in neighborhood revitalization.
  • Seeking out and nurturing partnerships with other interested organizations, especially municipal government.
  • Active outreach to and involvement of residents and property owners.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Elm Street program, contact Pennsylvania Downtown Center or by visiting the following DCED website.

* "Personal Crimes, 2002: Victimization rates for persons age 12 and over, by type of crime and annual family income of victims (Table 14)." Office of Justice Programs: Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2002. U.S. Department of Justice. 04 Feb. 2005. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cvus/violent_crimes276.htm.