December 12, 2017

Making Connections in Our Neighborhoods: Saginaw Community Foundation launches ABCD pilot program

From left to right: Brian Jackson, Authrene Banks, Patrice Boulware, Lillie Williams-Grays

Saginaw Community Foundation (SCF) has selected the Unity in the Community Neighborhood Association as its pilot neighborhood to participate in an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) process. The neighborhood is located on Saginaw’s East Side between Perkins St. and E. Holland Ave. and E. Genesee Ave. and S. 23rd St. The Saginaw County Community Action Center (CAC), 2824 Perkins St., will serve as the anchor organization for the neighborhood association.


ABCD is regarded as one of the leading methods of improving communities and neighborhoods. The process encourages community members to start with what they have instead of what they need. Rather than turning to outsiders for help, ABCD principles empower neighbors to make change from within by identifying assets and making connections between them.


“For SCF to continue to be effective in achieving our mission, we must look at new ways, like ABCD, to impact change within our community in addition to our traditional model of grant funding,” said Brian Jackson, director of donor services & special initiatives at Saginaw Community Foundation.


Beginning in 2015, SCF sent representatives from its Community Improvement Initiative/ABCD Committee to several neighborhood association meetings across the City of Saginaw to “be neighborly”, to listen, and to look for ways to connect. In September 2017, SCF held an informational meeting inviting representatives from the neighborhood associations to learn about the ABCD process. At the meeting, neighborhoods were encouraged to apply to be part of a pilot program where SCF selected a neighborhood to be trained in the ABCD principles.


“Our goal is to provide sustainable development of Saginaw County communities based on their strengths and potentials,” said Jackson. “We want to work with neighborhood residents to form relationships and empower citizens to take action.”


ABCD is a place-based framework that can help build strong, safe, and healthy neighborhoods and communities. By bringing the community together and focusing on the gifts within, ABCD helps residents, associations, nonprofits, government, and the business community, to act collectively as co-producers of their neighborhood’s well-being.


“We are excited to be chosen to participate in this pilot program,” said Lillie Williams-Grays, executive director of Saginaw CAC and a neighborhood representative for Unity in the Community Neighborhood Association. “Long-term, we hope the ABCD process will help to build a stronger sense of neighborhood pride as we get to know our neighbors and the resources they each can offer.”


SCF will provide a comprehensive ABCD training for representatives of the Unity in the Community Neighborhood Association over the coming months and will help guide the neighborhood to a successful outcome.


“Strong, safe, and healthy neighborhoods and communities are built on the strengths and capacities of their residents and associations that call the community home,” said Reneé Johnston, president and CEO of Saginaw Community Foundation. “ABCD will allow residents, with help and guidance from SCF, to discover their talents and make connections to improve and strengthen their neighborhood from within.”