One year ago, the President established the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) that established an innovative new model of federal-local collaboration dedicated to assisting communities get back on their feet and create jobs by helping them better leverage federal resources and form key partnerships to implement economic visions. Teams of federal employees are embedded with seven Mayors across the country to provide tailored technical assistance to cut through red tape, increase government efficiency, and build partnerships to help local leaders implement sustainable economic plans.
A year later, we have learned a lot about collaboration, team work, and how the federal government can support local communities working as a team to get things done.
These lessons are outlined in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Annual Report, which describes the impact of the SC2 Initiative and identifies emerging innovations that have the potential to be applied to many other communities working to strengthen their economies and job creation at the local level.
At a time when communities must accomplish more with every dollar of investment, SC2’s work in its first few years has already enabled communities to maximize the impact of more than $345 million in existing federal funds.
In addition to helping local governments tap into federal expertise, the work of the SC2 teams in pilot cities has identified best practices that will improve how the federal government partners with many other communities to support job training, economic development, safer neighborhoods, and improved public health outcomes. The work has also demonstrated the value of cultivating deeper public-private partnerships, especially with businesses and philanthropy, as city governments look for new models to expand their capacity to serve residents.
More recently, in his State of the Union address, the President proposed to align his signature revitalization initiatives to ensure that federal programs and resources are focused on 20 communities that are suffering the most from the effects of the recession. As these “Promise Zones” are designated, SC2 will contribute to this effort, by helping local leaders navigate federal programs, cut red tape, use federal resources more effectively, and provide technical assistance.
As Co-Chairs of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, we are proud of what SC2 has achieved to date and are excited for the work that lies ahead. In the coming months, SC2 will expand to additional cities, support the President’s proposal to designate “Promise Zones,” and announce the selection of an Administrator for the SC2 National Resource Network—a one-stop portal for communities seeking additional expertise to address their challenges.
With all of these efforts, SC2 is demonstrating that the federal government can be a strong partner to communities and local leaders. This partnership is especially critical to building ladders of opportunity for those working hard to make it into the middle class and stay in the middle class.
For a fuller picture of the SC2 initiative, feel free to read the entire report (click here to download), but some of the highlights include:
Shaun Donovan is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cecilia Muñoz is Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.