In the wake of large hurricanes such as Sandy and Katrina, US cities are acutely aware that organizations working at the neighborhood level will be on the front line of meeting resident needs in the hours, days and weeks after a major event. Therefore, it is essential that cities work to enhance their ability to participate in a spontaneous neighborhood-wide effort to provide care and support to all residents.

San Francisco’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network’s Empowered Communities Program (EPC) supports communities as they work to achieve a pre-event condition that will allow them to perform at the highest level in times of stress. The ECP is modeled after the core tenets of FEMA’s Whole Community Approach.

San Francisco piloted the ECP in the Fall of 2012 in partnership with the Diamond Heights community to engage in a comprehensive cross-sectoral effort to increase the neighborhood’s overall resilience. The lead NEN agencies providing community technical support were SF CARD and the City Administrator’s Office.

This effort is now a scalable framework being deployed in other high risk communities across the City.

Featured ECP Neighborhoods

Bayview Logo


In 2013, a group of Bayview non-profits, small businesses, faith-based organizations, residents and city agency stakeholders united with a vision for the Bayview. A vision advancing a future rich in social & economic opportunity and success for residents and businesses. The program took the name “Resilient Bayview”.
The program members worked intensely to inventory and prioritize the goals and objectives for the various community stakeholders who are committed to making the Bayview a great place to live, work and visit.

Click here to view Bayview’s Resilient Action Plan

Brotherhood Way Logo

Brotherhood Way

In 2015, organizations along San Francisco’s famed Brotherhood Way reached out to Supervisor Norman Yee’s office for support in creating a disaster resilience plan for their community. The Supervisor’s Office reached out and partnered with the City’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) to leverage its expertise in supporting communities as they draft and implement culturally competent Resilience Action Plans. By implementing its Empowered Communities Program (ECP), the NEN supported the Brotherhood Way stakeholders in developing a preliminary community engagement plan. This plan outlined the need to partner with surrounding communities to ensure any plans generated accommodate all of the stakeholders along the Brotherhood Way Corridor.

Click here to view Brotherhood Ways’ Resilient Action Plan

Cayuga Logo


The Resilient Cayuga Resilience Action Plan development process is designed to provide all essential community stakeholder organizations an opportunity to contribute to the creation of a unifying Resilience Action Plan for the neighborhoods along the Brotherhood Way Corridor. As a partner community, Cayuga will be able to craft a customized resident planning process that reflects their location and availability.

Click here to view Cayuga’s Resilient Action Plan

Diamond Heights Logo

Diamond Heights

In 2008, a group of leaders in the Diamond Heights community came together to explore ways to advance the disaster resilience of their community and took the name The Diamond Heights Disaster Ready Workgroup. While convening at St Aidan’s Church, the group partnered with organizations such as the Red Cross and SF CARD (Community Agencies Responding to Disaster), and designed and implemented a plan that gave them a deeper level of preparedness and capacity to succeed in times of stress.
In the summer of 2012, the Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) was invited to present its Empowered Communities Program (ECP), which leverages the most current disaster resilience development data and advances FEMA’s Whole Community Approach. As a result of this orientation, and the acquisition of funding from the CDC Foundation and FEMA, the Diamond Heights Community agreed to move forward with a deployment of the NEN’s ECP and became known as Resilient Diamond Heights.

Click here to view Diamond Heights’ Resilient Action Plan

MET Logo

Merced Extension Triangle

The Resilient Merced Extension Triangle Resilience Action Plan development process is designed to provide all essential community stakeholder organizations an opportunity to contribute to the creation of a unifying Resilience Action Plan for the neighborhoods along the Brotherhood Way Corridor. As a partner community, Merced Extension Triangle will be able to craft a customized resident planning process that reflects their location and availability.

Click here to view MET’s Resilient Action Plan

Miraloma Park Logo

Miraloma Park

Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) has partnered with the City’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network to create and implement a plan to strengthen our community so that during times of stress every resident will feel safe and empowered. MPIC is honored to have access to the expertise and resources of partners such as NERT, Neighborland, Nextdoor, SF PUC, SF DPH, HAS, SF State and the MIT Urban Risk Lab in crafting this strategy. The initiative, called Resilient Miraloma Park, is a highly focused, professionally facilitated process which is generating meaningful outcomes that MPIC is stewarding through implementation.

Click here to view Miraloma Park’s Resilient Action Plan

OMI Logo


The Resilient OMI (ROMI) Resilience Action Plan development process is designed to provide all essential community stakeholder organizations an opportunity to contribute to the creation of a unifying Resilience Action Plan for the neighborhoods along the Brotherhood Way Corridor. Each partner community will be able to craft a customized resident planning process that reflects their location and availability.

Click here to view OMI’s Resilient Action Plan

Sunset Logo


In 2013 District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang launched an unprecedented initiative called the Sunset Blueprint project and over the course of the year she convened workshops on issues facing the community including land use, public transportation and economic development.

In 2014, Supervisor Tang’s Office partnered with the City’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) to implement its Empowered Communities Program (ECP). The ECP is a community based planning process that convenes stakeholders and supports them as they participate in a series of workshops that ultimately generates Resilience Action Plan that will encapsulate the objectives outlined in the Sunset Blueprint. A program management team comprising of SF NERT, The City Administrator’s Office, The Dept. of Health, The Dept of Emergency Management and staff from Supervisor Tang’s Office created an initial community engagement plan that help guide the ECP’s deployment over the course of the next seven months. The initiative has been branded Resilient Sunset and on May 23rd 2015 the first community steering committee was convened. Over the course of the following few months the committee participated in a series of exercises that helped generate a district wide engagement plan that will advance the goals of the Sunset Blueprint.

Click here to view Sunset’s Resilient Action Plan

ECP Calendar:

ECP Overview

The ECP facilitates the development of a Resilience Action Plan (RAP) that advances a community’s overall resilience. A team of professionals from invested partner agencies – organizations with a stake in the community’s well-being – support community leaders and residents in identifying and advancing their specific resilient condition.

Examples of Partner Agencies:

Government Agencies:

  • City Administrator’s Office
  • Community Emergency Response Team
  • Department of Health
  • Department. of Emergency Management
  • Police and Fire Departments

Non-Government Agencies:

  • Red Cross
  • Universities
  • Faith Based Organizations
  • Private Sector Lifeline Organizations

Key Program Tenets:

  • The program area is defined at the neighborhood/geographical level
  • Nurtures a community-wide, culturally competent, customized vision of resilience
  • Advances a culture of trust and cooperation within a community
  • Coordinates simultaneous capacity building organizations resources at individual, organizational and community
  • Advances FEMA’s Whole Community Approach by introducing capacity building organizations not identified as traditional disaster preparedness agencies, like universities
  • Prepares communities to respond to both large and small events in their neighborhood using methods such as the Incident Command System
  • Creates an ideal climate to introduce programs such as the Neighborhood Support Center, NERT and Ready Neighborhoods

ECP Goals:

  1. Leadership / Governance – Increase resident ability to lead their community under any circumstances in an inclusive manner
  1. Problem Solving – Increase the level of day-to-day, cross-sectoral coordination among local and external stakeholder organizations to manage short and long planning processes
  2. Communication – Increase internal and external communication capabilities
  3. Organization – Provide neighborhood leaders with skills to effectively and sustainably engage and organize residents
  4. Fundraising and Financial Management – Train communities to generate funds to advance their goals and manage money effectively to ensure long-term funder partnerships


Program Benefits:
The ECP offers benefits to a wide variety of community stakeholders:

  • Residents will have increased access to training and receive a higher level of support after the disaster
  • Local Community Serving Organizations will have increased access to capacity-building resources and develop a higher level of interoperability with neighboring institutions to meet the collective neighborhood needs in times of stress
  • Disaster Resilience Capacity Building Organizations will experience higher outcomes from programmatic investments by linking them laterally and vertically to the work of other organizations in the community

ECP Deployment:

Neighborhoods in a city can be as diverse as the residents who reside in them. Topography, physical layout, economic focus, percentage of people who rent, and proximity to a university influence a community’s character. This character determines the right approach to engaging neighborhood participation in the ECP.

Communities generally fall into two categories:

  • Type 1 – community is rich in professionally managed service delivery organizations (i.e. CBOs & Faith Based Organizations) with a high density of at-risk residents
  • Type 2 – community is poor in professionally managed service delivery organizations and are stewarded by volunteer organizations (i.e. neighborhood and merchant associations) who serve a population with a high density of at-risk residents

In both types, professional and volunteer stakeholders will be engaged, however the density of organizational type offers a roadmap for the ECP to follow in achieving its programmatic goals.

In type 1 neighborhoods, professionally managed organizations (PMOs) offer the following:

  • Disaster preparedness is often an identified, or implied, element of the PMO’s mission
  • PMOs have continuity of operations plans (COOPs) which can be enhanced to include functional roles in a neighborhood-wide disaster response and expand their capacity to host a Neighborhood Support Center
  • PMO density often indicates a large population of residents in need of daily services – potentially members of communities poorly positioned to prepare themselves with traditional emergency preparedness assets (i.e. a kit of equipment and supplies for 72 hours)
  • PMOs are generally more stable and remain actors in the neighborhood for a longer period of time compared to the historical resident population turnover rate in San Francisco’s, offering a higher return on investment in capacity-building resources

In type 2 neighborhoods, the volunteer managed associations (VMOs) offer the following:

  • VMOs work directly with community leaders and neighborhood residents
  • VMOs can leverage previous capacity-building efforts in the neighborhood (i.e. NERT, SF SAFE)

Launching the ECP

Using an asset based organizing; the NEN’s ECP Project Team aligns its members in reflection of the type of neighborhood it will be engaging.

Type 1 – In a Type 1 neighborhood the project team assembles key local professionally managed organizations and introduces the ECP opportunity by leveraging its political, social and financial assets. Ultimately this affords the ECP the ability to roll out in a faster, more uniform fashion across a neighborhood.

Type 2 – In a Type 2 neighborhood the effort to initiate the ECP program must be done in a more nuanced bottom up approach. Given the key actors are predominantly volunteer managed organizations, it is essential to engage the local leadership in a conversation regarding their goals and priorities while assessing their capacity to be able to participate in the program. While the ECP can ultimately achieve programmatic goals in a type 2 neighborhood, the process of supporting the community as it works towards them could take longer and require additional technical support.

Projected Programmatic Outcomes

The ECP can initiate outcomes such as:

  • A Lifelines Resilience Development Plan
  • An Economic Recovery Framework
  • A Locally Designed and Managed Care & Shelter Plan
  • A Neighborhood Wide Response Plan
  • Deployment of Neighborhood Support Centers

Program Summary

The Empowered Communities Program (ECP) is designed not to duplicate existing capacity building efforts but rather support and enhance them by offering a platform that generates a higher level of stakeholder participation. By engaging the community in a process that empowers it to identify likely threats, and their projected impact on residents, the ECP offers them a vehicle to craft a culturally competent mitigation and response strategy. This process generates an essential level of ownership that will advance the likelihood that any plans/frameworks that are generated will remain a viable element of the community’s resilience efforts in the future.

Projected Community Impact:

  • Communities will be more prepared at individual, organizational and community levels to respond to challenges in a more coordinated fashion
  • Communities will be better positioned to support the needs of vulnerable members
  • Communities will participate more effectively in mitigation efforts
  • Communities will be better positioned to re-active lifelines and other essential resources required to restore their local economy