The most strategic philanthropic investment in the U.S. goes towards revitalizing the distressed neighborhoods that are the source of most of our social issues. These neighborhoods are also full of people with aspirations and talents. Philanthropist and businessman Tom Cousins said it this way, “America’s greatest untapped resource is the human capital trapped in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.” This is a new model for philanthropy – holistically addressing all of the issues in a single small geography rather than trying to address a single issue across a large geography.
POLIS has set out to make this happen in Central Florida since our baseline research concluded (2006-2009). We didn’t invent the model, we just discovered it. We also found no evidence of any mature effort to implement the model in Central Florida. Today, there are 10 comprehensive efforts to revitalize 33 of our 100 distressed neighborhoods. Each effort is distinctly focused on a particular geography in order to maximize the “holistic capitalization” required (the phrase we coined in our research to describe the approach). And each effort is in a different stage of the process. We help keep these initiatives on track while comparing any gains they produce to our overall “well-being” as measured by Gallup.
This is the POLIS framework for making a city stronger – strategically invest in its most distressed neighborhoods. Our role is that of a guide, facilitator, and evaluator. On behalf of a specific group of investors and for the primary benefit of the residents of these neighborhoods, we directly engage the community, equip community leaders, and evaluate the overall progress of the revitalization effort. We also run a Resident and Community Support Program in order to ensure that residents are armed with their own goals and plans when they engage with other non-profits and social service agencies that can help them achieve their goals.
Our work is important and it takes a lot of time to do this model. Time is money so we need and highly value your charitable contributions since they allow us to continue our march to propel Metro Orlando into the 90th percentile for well-being amongst America’s largest cities by 2030 (we are currently in the 59th percentile). As lofty as our primary goal is, the work boils down to affecting one family and one community at a time. Lend your support to our work today so that we can continue to make our city and our world a better place.