Guides and Toolkits Library

  • Green Infrastructure: Using Nature to Solve Stormwater Challenges (2011)

    In order to counter pressures on the municipal sewer system, and inspired by nature’s ability to absorb and filter water, cities are turning to ecosystem-based stormwater management projects that are cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, and beneficial to public health. Short of rebuilding entire conventional pipe and tank systems, many cities are adopting these alternative strategies – referred to as “green infrastructure” – that reduce the amount of water needing treatment while conserving precious water resources for the future. Cities such as Tucson, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Edmonston, Maryland are finding innovative water infrastructure solutions.

  • Fully Incorporating Prevention in Comprehensive Youth Violence Reduction Strategies (2011)

    Within a comprehensive violence prevention strategy, pursuing and sustaining preventive efforts to minimize future violence well in advance typically poses the greatest challenge for municipal leaders. This action guide, published as part of the California Cities Gang Prevention Network initiative, highlights strategies, action steps and existing city approaches to prevention.

  • Bank On Cities: Connecting Residents to the Financial Mainstream (2011)

    This toolkit provides municipal leaders with a step-by-step guide for launching "Bank On" initiatives that help working families avoid high-cost check cashing and other fringe financial services.

  • Resilience in the Face of Foreclosures: Six Case Studies on Neighborhood Stabilization (2011)

    NLC, in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation's Building Resilient Regions Network (BRR), commissioned a scan of six cities-Camden, Dayton, Milwaukee, Oakland, Phoenix and Tampa-to determine the actions these communities took to address the ongoing housing foreclosure crisis and specifically to explore methods for becoming a more resilient community. Interviews were conducted with elected officials, nonprofit housing organizations, civic leaders, bankers, developers, housing activists and advocates and other observers of housing and policy work. This publication contains a synthesis of the important findings that emerged from the interviews and a detailed description of each of the six cities' response to the foreclosure crisis.

  • Sustainable Connections: Linking Sustainability and Economic Development Strategies (2011)

    Sustainability is a fundamental component of building a strong community, not only in terms of the physical environment, but also for economic prosperity. In recent years many cities across the country have begun providing leadership and advancing economic strategies by incorporating environmental stewardship and sustainability principles throughout programs to promote economic development. This City Practice Brief, made possible through The Home Depot Foundation, NLC's Sustainability Partner, highlights the strategies and experiences of four cities, Denver, Colo., Boston, Mass., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Grand Rapids, Mich., using sustainability to spur economic growth.

  • Case Study: Combining Urban Forestry with Youth Employment Opportunities (2011)

    A healthy urban tree canopy has been associated with environmental and economic benefits such as reduced heating and cooling costs, low-cost stormwater management and aesthetic value and comfort. This case study highlights how an urban forestry initiative in New Haven, Conn. has brought together multiple city departments, a community based non-profit and an area university to also generate social value by creating workforce development opportunities for youth and the formerly incarcerated.

  • Public Safety Programs for the Immigrant Community (2011)

    Public Safety Programs for the Immigrant Community addresses cities' role in immigrant public safety and is designed to give cities a starting place to plan and improve their public safety outreach programs toward their local immigrant communities. The report, from NLC's Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration Program highlights seventeen public safety programs and good practices from a diverse group of U.S cities and includes recommendations for developing immigrant public safety programs in other communities.

  • Leveraging Funds Through Community Development Block Grants (2011)

    Flexibility and community support have enabled the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to provide real help for low-income residents since its inception in 1974. The creative and innovative use of CDBG dollars has transformed local ideas and designs into practical solutions that strengthen communities and the bonds between local actors. This guide exhibits five city projects that are exemplary in their use of CDBG funds.

  • Immigrant Integration: Resource Access and Cultural Exchange (2011)

    This city practice brief highlights city and non-profit programs that either connect new immigrants to existing community resources or promote information and cultural exchange between old and new residents. Together, these strategies support an immigrant integration framework of community outreach, resource access and education to teach new residents about city services and civic responsibilities.

  • Developing a Sustainable Food System (2011)

    Municipal governments are implementing policies and programs that allow residents to grow, sell, buy and eat more sustainably produced and locally grown foods, while strengthening the community and region. Comprehensive sustainability plans for food systems can include strategies to attract grocery stores in food deserts, improve support for urban agriculture and farmers' markets through zoning codes, and reduce food related waste by composting. This City Practice Brief covers a range of solutions from cities that seek to ease the environmental burden of their food system and cultivate economically strong local food sources.

  • Integrating Bike Share Programs into a Sustainable Transportation System (2011)

    As cities of all sizes face challenges in maintaining effective, agile transportation systems, bike share programs are emerging as a cost effective and sustainable way to expand the portfolio of transit options. By providing an automated, public, bicycle rental program with a pricing structure that incentives short trips, cities are realizing economic, environmental and public health benefits. Denver, CO, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, MN and Buffalo, NY are highlighted in this City Practice Brief.

  • Local Practices in Public Engagement (2010)

    This brief presents local practices that public officials and their staffs are incorporating in their communities to govern in more participatory, deliberative, inclusive and collaborative ways.

  • Expanding Options: City Roles in Creating High School Alternatives for Struggling Students (2010)

    This report draws upon lessons learned from a YEF Institute project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in which five cities - Corpus Christi, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; Phoenix, Ariz., San Antonio, Texas; and San Jose, Calif. - increased the choices available to students who struggle in traditional high school settings or are at risk for dropping out.

  • Community Wellness: Comprehensive City-School Strategies to Reduce Childhood Obesity (2010)

    Published by the YEF Institute and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this report features the experiences of six communities where city and school district leaders partnered in the development of community-wide wellness plans.

  • City Government Promoting Civic Repsonsibility through Volunteerism (2010)

    This brief illustrates the diversity of citizen volunteer programs and strategies that city officials are implementing to achieve city priorities and to strengthen and expand services.

  • Investing in Your City's IT Infrastructure (2010)

    Cities across the country are experimenting with the development of data capturing devices and the increased availability of data being presented in new and creative ways. From a municipal perspective, this information can have a profound impact on the way local governments provide services and govern their communities. In order to make the most effective use of this information, cities are making huge investments in their information technology (IT) infrastructure. The IT tools cities are using range from cloud computing, to municipal Wi-Fi networks, to handheld devices for a variety of applications, to software programs that better inform decision-making processes. The examples in this brief show how cities are working to expand or update their technological infrastructure through these methods and are reducing costs and increasing efficiency in addition to ultimately meeting their communities’ needs.

  • Using Technology to Promote Transparency in City Government (2010)

    NLC and Public Technology Institute (PTI) surveyed a set of its members to identify technology topics they would like to learn more about. Technology tools that promote transparency in municipal government was the leading topic of interest. In response to the need for more information about transparency, the National League of Cities (NLC) developed, Using Technology to Promote Transparency in City Government, a resource guide that provides a set of examples of how cities can work to increase transparency in their day-to-day practices.

  • Immigrant Affairs Committess and Councils (2009)

    This City Practice Brief provides examples of a variety of immigrant affairs committees, councils, and commissions created in order to offer advice to local government officials on issues relating to immigrant groups.

  • Mayoral Immigrant and Latino Affairs Offices (2009)

    This City Practice Brief describes mayoral offices established to address the needs and concerns related to immigrant communities.

  • Citizenship and Naturalization Programs (2009)

    This City Practice brief highlights local efforts to help immigrants prepare for the naturalization test and interview with tutoring, classes, and legal advice clinics.

  • The State of City Leadership for Children and Families (2009)

    This report highlights the broad range of innovations and trends in municipal leadership to promote child and family well-being and identifies the nation’s most cutting-edge city strategies in nine areas: early childhood, education, afterschool, youth in transition, violence prevention, family economic success, community wellness, youth civic engagement, and local "infrastructure" for children, youth and families.

  • Combating Poverty: Emerging Strategies from the Nation's Cities (2008)

    This report highlights local poverty reduction strategies from 13 cities across the nation. The survey responses compiled in the report demonstrate how municipal leaders are well-positioned to lead citywide initiatives to reduce poverty.

  • Retail Redevelopment (2008)

    Retail Redevelopment offers examples of how cities and suburbs across the country have redeveloped their abandoned regional malls, poorly maintained strip centers, and other retail spaces into community assets.

  • Employment and Business Ownership (2008)

    This City Practice Brief focuses on local program developed to improve immigrants’ access to employment opportunities, including job training, English as a Second Language classes, and job placement.

  • Setting the Stage for New High Schools: Municipal Leadership in Supporting High School Alternatives (2007)

    Published with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this report outlines seven key policy conditions that facilitate the expansion of alternatives and options for dropouts and other students who struggle in traditional high school settings.

  • Supporting Parents: Promising City Efforts to Promote Early Childhood Success (2007)

    This report highlights lessons for promoting early childhood success from six cities that participated in NLC's Cities Supporting Parents of Young Children project.

  • Beyond City Limits: Cross-System Collaboration to Reengage Disconnected Youth (2007)

    This case study report highlights eight cities - Albany, N.Y., Baltimore, Boston, Corpus Christi, Texas, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose - in which municipal leaders are collaborating across public systems on behalf of disconnected youth.

  • Engaging Citizens in Public Work (2007)

    This City Practice Brief examines nine cities' programs of engaging their citizens in their community's civic affairs.

  • Making Municipal Government Work (2007)

    This City Practice Brief highlights cities that underwent changes in their operating structure to enhance effectiveness and efficiency.

  • Partnering for Public Work (2007)

    This City Practice Brief provides examples of cities collaborating with external partners to achieve mutually related goals.

  • Working with Other Governments (2007)

    This City Practice Brief discusses municipal examples of cities partnering with one another to promote cooperation and improve community development.

  • Vital Partners: Mayors and Police Chiefs Working Together for America's Children and Youth (2006)

    This report, developed through a project funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and conducted in partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, highlights mayor-law enforcement partnerships to keep young people safe in 17 cities and towns.

  • Transitional Jobs: A Workforce Strategy for Cities (2006)

    This report describes lessons learned during NLC's 2002-04 Transitional Jobs technical assistance project, in which nine cities designed transitional jobs programs to help residents overcome significant barriers to work.

  • Engaging Cities: How Municipal Leaders Can Mobilize Communities to Improve Public Schools (2006)

    This report, published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University in cooperation with the YEF Institute, highlights five cities where mayors have engaged the public and built civic capacity around education reform, using the leverage of their offices in strategic ways.

  • Whatever It Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth (2006)

    This American Youth Policy Forum report provides background on the high school dropout problem and describes what 12 communities are doing to reconnect dropouts to education and employment training.

  • The Afterschool Hours: A New Focus For America's Cities (2005)

    This report highlights strategies and insights from the eight cities that participated in the YEF Institute's Municipal Leadership for Expanding Learning Opportunities technical assistance project.

  • Stronger Schools, Stronger Cities (2004)

    The first in the YEF Institute's series of reports outlining "lessons learned" from technical assistance initiatives, this report highlights strategies from the six cities that participated in the Municipal Leadership in Education (MLE) project.