About the Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building is designed to virtually unite stakeholders of all types in studying and promoting the efficacy of settlement house movement values. This movement's values recognize that all individuals, families, and communities, no matter how challenged, possess aspirations and strengths that can be the foundation for meaningful, lasting change.

The Alliance established the Center as it united its national membership with the United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA) network in January 2014 to form a strong network of nearly 500 settlement houses, community centers, and human-serving organizations. By virtue of their heritage in the settlement house movement, UNCA and its network of community centers were key torchbearers for solutions that arise from the collaboration of community residents.

The practice of authentically engaging individuals in identifying their own strengths, aspirations, and solutions was used by the first settlement workers and it still holds true today. Because of the enduring importance of these values, the Center seeks to preserve and increase their application within family and community settings.

It is evident that building on individual and community assets and engaging neighbors and constituents as decision makers creates more lasting and effective change than a model where outside “experts” conceive and impose solutions.

Authentic engagement and person-centered and strength-based orientations have demonstrated efficacy when adopted by organizations that work to build stronger communities. Thus, the Center works to accelerate the adoption of these principles in organizations including human and community development organizations, public sector entities, academia, private industry, and beyond.

Watch the Center for Engagment and Neighborhood Building's official launch at the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference

How the Center Works

The diagram below represents the Center. Engagement values reside at the center of the image and the heart of the Center's work. They are surrounded by products, services, and other efforts designed to accelerate the adoption of engagement values among human and community development organizations and beyond. The outer ring includes the Center's various stakeholder groups.

The Center builds on an ecosystem of many stakeholders and contributors, including Alliance staff and volunteers, community-based nonprofits, national-level partners, content experts, researchers, advocates, public and private sector individuals, and concerned and interested neighbors, to pursue its purpose. The Center pursues its efforts in the following ways:

  • Identifying organizations that embody engagement values and studying their models
  • Developing cohort learning communities among organizations wanting to join the movement
  • Conducting research and composing and disseminating special publications and other communications
  • Creating and managing a clearinghouse of effective practices
  • Providing and coordinating training, consultation, and technical assistance
  • Hosting conferences and special convening events
  • Engaging and leading special change efforts
  • Strengthening stakeholders’ effectiveness in public policy and advocacy efforts
  • Pursuing opportunity-driven special projects
  • Influencing systems-level change among funders and public sector organizations by advocating that neighbors and constituents inform and guide their decision-making processes

The shared vision of the Alliance and the Center is a future in which every organization concerned with the welfare of children, adults, families, and neighborhoods naturally and instinctively employs authentic engagement in every aspect of its work.

Read about the history of the settlement house movement and UNCA online.

Contact the Alliance's Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building with questions.

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