Creating Healthy Programs and Partnerships

At FCS, we talk a lot about the “why” of neighborhood engagement. Now, let’s dig into the “what!” Today, we’ll explore the programs FCS is involved in, as well as the partnerships we maintain. We hope this gives you a better understanding of what endeavors might work in your neighborhood, and how you can shape […]

At FCS, we talk a lot about the “why” of neighborhood engagement. Now, let’s dig into the “what!” Today, we’ll explore the programs FCS is involved in, as well as the partnerships we maintain. We hope this gives you a better understanding of what endeavors might work in your neighborhood, and how you can shape programs and partnerships of your own.

What Programs Does FCS Sponsor?

At FCS, all of our programs are legacy. They come from initiatives started by neighbors, or are inspired by lived and shared experiences. We start from a place of asking what the neighborhood would love to see. Some of the programs that we host actually started with families and neighbors, and FCS has been able to keep the party going.

South Atlanta Youth Group

This program is led by an amazing coordinator who has been serving the neighborhood faithfully for the past ten years. We regularly see 40-50 students, and some of the original members are now leaders. We meet weekly, we partner with local middle schools, and we also run a bike program.

Treat Street

This is Halloween at its finest! Treat Street is our take on the holiday, and it allows neighbors and partners to play together. There’s no transaction, no hierarchy, and no power – just people having fun together and enjoying costumes, games, and candy.

Pride for Parents

This holiday gift shop is about as old as FCS. It provides families the dignity of coming in and purchasing their own toys for their loved ones. It’s not a giveaway – it’s an opportunity for families to purchase gifts at a price they can afford.

How Do You Determine a Program is Needed?

At FCS, we’ve learned that it’s critical to ensure that you’re providing something that is actually needed and wanted by the neighborhood – not just providing something you’d like to offer. Listening is the best way to figure out what the neighborhood desires. Take the time to determine your North Star to decide what you should focus on.

We ask ourselves these questions:

  1. Is there a person-to-person relationship involved?
  2. Are there neighborhood leaders involved? (on a formal or informal basis)
  3. What does the FNI (Flourishing Neighborhood Index) say? We know that the neighborhood will tell you how it feels about itself. Here’s where we’ll see the neighborhood’s preferred future and understand where the gaps are.

How Do You Ensure It Stays Healthy?

Not every great program needs to remain in place indefinitely, and it’s important to not get so attached to a program that you can’t evaluate its effectiveness. We hold nothing sacred, and we aren’t afraid to ask questions like, “Does it fit with our vision? Is it still keeping in step with the neighborhood? Is it helping us help people feel connected or is the program dissolving into relief?” This process is more of an art than a science – but being able to ask these questions allows the neighborhood to inform the work.

What Are Partnerships That FCS is Involved In?

To begin, we look for the people and organizations who are already doing the work you need. We find people who are excellent in the craft and see how we can pair their work with the cry of the community.

Currently, our partners include:

Start:ME Atlanta – an entrepreneurship program
Urban Recipe – a food co-op
PNC Mobile Bank – a mobile banking solution that also offers financial counseling

We make sure we choose partners who provide quality goods. Relationships and community should also be formed – it’s not a transactional situation.

How Do You Choose a Partner?

When we choose a partner, we look for a shared desire to honor the place-based model. We look for partners who want to value neighbors and understand the dignity side of this work. They need to be aware of the two-way model and avoid a transactional approach. The bottom line is that partners need to see people as more important than the bottom line. We’re not just interested in someone who can write a check – we’re looking for a relationship.

Our Vision at FCS

We know that when programs and partnerships are informed by the neighborhood, it leads to mutual connections that leave space for neighbors to flourish. At our best, we focus on being both a student and a teacher. It’s a work in progress, but we’re always seeking to do better.

If you liked this article, you’ll love the conversation that inspired it! Click here to listen to the Place Matters podcast episode it’s based on.