Gary Northside Redevelopment

The City of Gary, Indiana sought to build partnerships to support investment and institutional capacity to implement community redevelopment. Such partnerships were intended to build upon the existing assets of strong local leadership and a community of local nonprofits.

Who were the partners?

Under the banner of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (a Federal collaboration of HUD/EPA/DOT), stakeholders in Gary undertook to work toward the goal of building city capacity and creating the context for reinvestment by prioritizing a geographic area based on assets and opportunities for renewed economic activity. Other key stakeholders in this initiative included:

1. Legacy Foundation;
2. Indiana Association for Community Economic Development (IACED); and
3. Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

What were the action steps?

With support from federal government staff, the city strategized about reuse of brownfields sites. Based upon discussions, the mayor designated a geographic area for the team's focus: the Gary Northside Redevelopment Project (GNRP). More than seventy 90-minute interviews with individual department leads and a broad range of community stakeholders were conducted to understand their roles, funding streams, and vision for the target redevelopment area.

Having identified nonprofit capacity as one of the key barriers to redevelopment in Northwest Indiana, Legacy Foundation created the Neighborhood Spotlight Task Force to form a strategy to build nonprofit capacity. The federal team brought their task force partners to Indianapolis to observe the results of a previous HUD/DOT/EPA partnership effort characterized by strong nonprofit partnerships. The federal team also shared the Collective Impact Model that had been used in Chicago and elsewhere to great effect by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The basic concept of the Collective Impact Model is that neighborhoods which are served by multiple, issue-specific nonprofits will be better served if these nonprofits are working together in an organized manner toward shared goals.

The Neighborhood Spotlight Task Force adopted the Collective Impact Model and created a place-based reinvestment initiative called the Neighborhood Spotlight program, which the Legacy Foundation then funded. The Legacy Foundation hired the Indiana Association for Community and Economic Development (IACED) to conduct extensive training and outreach on the Collective Impact Model for local nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits who participated in this training were eligible to apply for a Neighborhood Spotlight Grant, which funded community development in a designated neighborhood for one year.

Featured Outcomes

Since 2014, the Legacy Foundation awarded two Neighborhood Spotlight grants to develop neighborhoods within the Gary Northside Redevelopment Project to the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District and the FAITH Community Development Corporation. In these two neighborhoods, Legacy Foundation funding has been utilized to create community plans and to organize the full range of nonprofits around common goals. Over the long term, this program is intended to create and nurture stronger nonprofit organizations that can partner with the city and others (including federal agencies) to make visible change.

Subsequent to these efforts, Gary applied for a Choice Neighborhood grant targeting the University Park neighborhood. The city wanted the funds to develop a plan for revitalizing the neighborhood around the mostly-vacant Colonial Gardens scattered-site public housing project. Upon winning the award, Gary asked The Legacy Foundation to implement Choice Neighborhood grant. The Legacy Foundation also set up a small grants program for the University Park neighborhood that will result in early tangible wins such as the reactivation of neighborhood block clubs, a food bank giveaway, Earth Day neighborhood cleanup, and a window sign competition to keep stakeholders engaged.

In 2014, HUD and USDA recognized the partnership that was created in the development of Neighborhood Spotlight program with the Council on Foundations' Secretary's Award for Public/Philanthropic Partnerships.

NLC Contact

City Solutions and Applied Research

(Last Modified December 2016)