Ft. Lauderdale Community Collaborations
The programs identified in this example earned the City of Fort Lauderdale a 2014 All-America City Award.
The city confronted a number of significant challenges including low rates of affordable housing, distressed neighborhoods, and high levels of auto dependence. Programs were initiated that upgraded neighborhoods, improved educational outcomes for children and youth, increased walkability, and promoted the arts.
Dillard Innovation Zone
The Dillard Innovation Zone Promise Neighborhood was created to cultivate community collaborations, support school improvement efforts, health service interventions and business opportunities in one of the city's most distressed communities. The centerpiece of the zone is Dillard Elementary which has a long history dating back to the early development of the city. About 80 percent of the school's students are African-American.
A partnership with Paradise Bank and Ranger Technological Resources led to the development of an on-line portal for fundraising, recruiting mentors, marketing and promoting investment in the school and its students. Another project sought to improve student literacy by focusing on parental reading and language skills. Major accomplishments of the school and partnerships range from increased parental involvement, afterschool and in school mentoring programs, as well as strengthened community and business involvement. One other outcome is that Dillard Elementary has been removed from the list of 100 lowest performing schools in the State of Florida.
Financial support for these efforts comes from a Community Transforming Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and the Broward Regional Health Planning Council which is the lead funding agency. The CDC's Transforming our Community's Health (TOUCH) Program pulls together the strength and commitment of over 30 community organizations and coalitions to help improve the health and well-being of those who live, work, learn, retire and play in Broward County.
The story of Flagler Arts and Technology (FAT) Village is about the reinvention of a desolate, crime-ridden area into a four block-long arts community in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Local residents saw the potential for transforming a rundown warehouse area. Early artists-in-residence included a master puppeteer, a photography and media company, an event planning and marketing business, an advertising agency, a theater company and an architecture firm. This grassroots group of artists and merchants worked to clean up the area, which had been a haven for drug dealers. The area has been reinvented through events such as the monthly Art Walk, which provided the opportunity for visitors to stroll through art galleries, artist studios, and a prop warehouse and see theater performances and puppet shows. The art district has helped make Fort Lauderdale a magnet for "the creative class" by providing an attractive, livable urban environment.
Northwest Gardens Healthy Places
Like many other communities, Fort Lauderdale's streets were designed for automobiles with vehicles traveling at high speeds along multi-lane roadways, limited numbers of crosswalks and no bicycle lanes. This development pattern created an environment unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. In 2012, the city completed a community-wide visioning process. One challenge identified in the process was the need to make Fort Lauderdale more walkable. Broward County and the Broward County Metropolitan Organization worked with the city to transform roadways into "complete streets" and to foster a more connected community. A grant was awarded by the Center for Disease Control's Community Transformation Grant Program to fund the development of the Compete Streets Guidelines. This new policy recently earned Fort Lauderdale recognition from Smart Growth America.
Another initiative, the Northwest Gardens Development is turning a once distressed neighborhood into a showcase for sustainable development with spaces for walking, biking, community gardens, fruit trees, energy efficient housing, solar streetlights, job training and cultural activities. Neighborhood residents participated in the design of interactive walking paths, garden areas and other amenities. The project incorporated the "Safe Paths to Safe Places" concept, providing desirable walkways to schools, commercial services, transit stops, health services and jobs. Three community gardens provide access to nutritious food in a part of the city that was once considered a "food desert."
City Solutions and Applied Research