The NEN Block Champion Program
Executive Summary: Across San Francisco there are thousands of residents who are committed to their neighborhood’s overall well-being, while at the same time The City and its partner organizations have a rich suite of programs that are designed to empower residents to build healthier, greener, cleaner and safer communities. The NEN’s Block Champion Program offers a simple yet robust platform to connect these two stakeholder networks and generate over time a higher overall quality of life for all San Franciscans.
Background: San Francisco is a City in transition both socio-economically and from a climate standpoint. As a result of the gentrification generated by the recent economic boom, we have experienced an incredible churn rate in our population which has diluted the number of long term stakeholders at the block level across the City. At the same time, the City is being confronted by the need to craft big and, in many cases, bold strategies to address the both the impacts of stressors such as climate changes and those of traditional shocks such as earthquakes.
The NEN Block Champion Program is part of a comprehensive effort to identify both existing and emerging leaders and provide them with the programs, resources and technical support to both address the day to day challenges before them as well as contribute to preparing our City to thrive in a new world climatically.
Nested in the NEN’s Empowered Communities Program, and building on the success of the 2017 Neighborfest Campaign, the Block Champion Program will generate an essential layer of connection and capacity at the community level that we as a municipality will need to advance our mitigation, preparedness, response and restoration / recovery strategies.
- Supports existing and emerging leaders: As a City we are blessed with a large class of committed neighborhood leaders whose constancy has both maintained and improved the quality of life for their immediate neighbors over time. We also have a group of emerging leaders who are new to the City and want to contribute to the place they now call home. The NEN Block Champion Program will be designed to provide both stakeholder groups with streamlined access to programs and resources that will enhance their capacity to organize their neighbors, identify unifying challenges and opportunities, craft achievable action plans and implement them.
- Supports the Agencies and Institutions that are committed to our neighborhood’s resilience: There are dozens of agencies who have programs and resources that are designed to support residents in their efforts to make their immediate neighborhood a healthier, greener, cleaner and safer to live. The challenge for many organizations is in raising awareness of these programs with their intended audiences. The NEN Block Champion Program offers these agencies with an organized and focused platform to engage and onboard resident leaders into their initiatives.
- Offers organizations that are advancing strategic planning a higher capacity network of community stakeholders to engage: As Block Champions participate in capacity building programs and become more proficient in their convening skills, they will become an invaluable resource to planners who are addressing both hyper local and regional challenges.