Valley Community Development Strategic Plan Executive Summary – 2016-2020
To Our Friends, Supporters, and Stakeholders:
We are pleased to present the Valley Community Development Strategic Plan which will guide the efforts of our Board of Directors and staff for the next five years. The plan is the product of a year of analysis and study which included a community summit in February, 2015 and a planning retreat of the board of directors, staff and other key stakeholders.
Together with our strategic planning consultant, Judy Freiwirth, Principal of Nonprofit Solutions Associates, Valley Community Development’s board has developed the enclosed plan which provides a roadmap for the continued growth and vitality of Valley Community Development in carrying out its mission to empower low and moderate income people and underserved populations to manage and improve the quality of their lives. The plan builds on Valley Community Development’s excellent reputation in developing affordable housing and identifies a new strategic direction to expand Valley Community Development’s target area beyond its original service area to include other communities in Hampshire and Franklin Counties.
Furthermore, the plan calls for Valley Community Development, in collaboration with other nonprofits, to create a Financial Opportunity Center which will be a resource for our constituents to improve financial literacy, build assets and obtain job readiness skills. The plan also commits the board to increase Valley Community Development’s engagement with the community in order to ensure that our efforts are consistent with the needs of the residents we serve.
Our sincerest thanks to everyone who participated in the preparation of this plan, including the Strategic Planning Committee. We are excited about the prospects for Valley Community Development’s future and energized to move ahead on the initiatives identified in this plan.
Felicity Hardee, President Joanne Campbell, Executive Director
Valley Community Development Corporation (Community Development) seeks to empower low and moderate income people and underserved populations to manage and improve the quality of their lives. The organization addresses these needs through the preservation of affordable housing, providing homeownership education, foreclosure prevention, and improving economic opportunities through small business technical assistance and fostering community leadership. Since 1988, Valley Community Development has developed 224 units of affordable rental and ownership housing; currently owns and manages 134 units of rental housing in Northampton, Easthampton and Amherst including 53 SROs; assisted over 2,500 homebuyers with pre- and post-purchase, and foreclosure prevention counseling; and provided small business technical assistance to over 1,500 local start-ups and existing businesses.
During early 2015, the Board decided to pursue a strategic plan for Valley Community Development for the next three to five year period. The organization was ready to move to its next stage of development and expand to more effectively address changing community needs and was positioned to grow its current programs and consider new initiatives to fulfill its mission. Moreover, the organization wished to create new opportunities for engaging its constituents and community stakeholders in the Community Development’s advocacy efforts and in helping to shape its future work.
STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS
The Strategic Planning Team worked closely with Consultant, Judy Freiwirth, Psy.D., Principal of Nonprofit Solutions Associates throughout the process to help design and coordinate the planning. Rather than undergo a traditional and extensive external strategic planning assessment, a Community Summit was organized to bring key stakeholders together for a day to help identify key community needs and provide input regarding the CDC’s strategic directions for the future. Valley Community Development held its first ever Community Summit with the participation of over 50 community stakeholders. In addition, the Team developed a set of programmatic and organizational proposals for future strategic directions. At a Strategic Planning retreat, the Board, staff and key external stakeholders adopted key strategic directions for Valley Community Development. Following the retreat, the Team further developed these specific strategies and goals. The Strategic Plan will be used to guide the Board and staff in implementing the strategic directions, and assist the Board and staff in monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan.
OVERALL FIVE YEAR VISION FOR VALLEY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
In five years, Valley Community Development will be a vibrant, highly recognized and visible CDC which is effectively carrying out its mission and meeting community needs. It will have an expanded geographic base which includes Franklin County and additional communities beyond its original four target cities and towns (Northampton, Easthampton, Amherst and Hadley) in Hampshire County. The CDC will have expanded existing initiatives and developed new programs, including the development of additional affordable housing units within its larger geographic area. It will have 150 new housing units, either developed or in the pipeline and will be recognized as the primary developer of affordable housing in its geographic area. It will have an expanded homeownership program serving over 650 households per year, including in Franklin County, and a new ‘Financial Opportunity Center’ that is providing financial literacy and job readiness skills. Constituents and key stakeholders are fully engaged in helping to advocate for affordable housing and providing direction to the CDC’s programs. Valley Community Development will have increased its budget to $750,000, increased staff capacity, an increased number of individual and business donors, and will be located in larger, more accessible office space. Finally, Valley Community Development will have an active and inclusive board of directors that reflects the diversity of the communities it serves. All board members are actively engaged in fund development, political advocacy, and community engagement.
Five Year Community –Impact Vision
Through the ongoing work of Valley Community Development, communities in the CDC’s geographic area will have more affordable housing, and will gain an increased understanding of the value of developing and preserving affordable housing. The Pleasant Street corridor will be revitalized as a result of Valley Community Development’s housing development. The lives of Valley Community Development’s tenants will have improved by living in affordable housing which will have access to quality schools and services. The homebuyers and homeowners assisted by Valley Community Development will benefit from more sustainable homeownership and small businesses will have become more successful as a result of the CDC’s assistance. Finally, community members who will be engaged in the new Financial Opportunity Center will have increased financial stability and will be employed at a living wage.
SUMMARY OF KEY STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
OVERALL KEY STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
Valley Community Development will be expanding its geographic area, its programming, and staff capacity over the next three to five years in order to better meet community needs and implement its mission. The following strategic directions reflect this expansion and strengthening of its organizational capacity:
- Expand Valley Community Development’s target area for its programs and housing development projects beyond the four original cities and towns to other communities in Hampshire County in addition to expansion into Franklin County.
- Increase Valley Community Development’s housing development with an additional 150 units, either developed or in the pipeline within its newly expanded geographic area – for a total of over 350 units.
- Create a Valley Community Development regional ‘Financial Opportunity Center’ in partnership with other nonprofits, based on a nationally-recognized model which provides an integrated continuum of services focused on financial literacy and job readiness skills.
- Beginning in year two, explore expanding Valley Community Development’s economic development program in collaboration with another organization.
- Increase the Board’s strategic focus in its meetings, diversify its membership, strengthen committee work, increase its role in community engagement, and create a culture of continual improvement.
- Expand the role of the Board in fundraising with specific goals, especially in regards to individual donor development and the 30th Anniversary activities.
- Expand the diversity of leadership and membership/constituents of Valley Community Development, and engage the Board and staff in discussions regarding power, inclusion, social and racial justice issues and the implications for Valley Community Development’s policies and practices.
- Increase Valley Community Development’s community engagement focus, with the active engagement of members, constituents and other key community stakeholders in tenant and other affordable housing issues, and engage constituents in the work of the CDC.
- Increase Valley Community Development’s budget and associated fund development by adding development staff, improving effectiveness of board development activity and addition individual donor fundraising.
PROGRAMMATIC STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
Valley Community Development will build upon its existing housing development efforts to develop affordable housing for individuals and families residing in its existing target communities of Northampton, Amherst, Easthampton and Hadley and the new target areas of Franklin County and additional communities in Hampshire County.
- Priority will be focused on affordable rental housing that serves very low and extremely low income households, and when possible, integrated into mixed income development; medium or large scale projects (greater than 15 units); and rehabilitation of existing buildings.
- Specifically, at the end of five year years, there will be an additional 150 units (30-55 units per project with a projection of three – four projects), either committed or in the pipeline of projects. At least one project will be located outside the original geographic area. Any commercial spaces created will have a positive cash flow. Medium or large scale projects will have priority.
- There will be a full time Housing Project Manager beginning in Year one of the strategic plan.
- Establishment of a ‘Financial Opportunity Center’ — in partnership with other organizations will be up and running and located in Valley Community Development’s Lumberyard project, and serving Hampshire County. The financial opportunity center model is an integrated service model with goals of helping families address common barriers to economic security by decreasing debt, increasing credit scores and increasing income and assets. It may include financial literacy, rental and homeownership workshops; individualized financial coaching; financial planning; income supports; job readiness training; career planning; and partnerships with job training sites.
Pre- and post-purchase and foreclosure prevention counseling will expand to include residents of Franklin County and other communities in Hampshire County not currently served.
- Valley Community Development will have increased financial support for the program to facilitate the expansion.
- Valley Community Development has a clear role in the proposed Western Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative that augments Valley Community Development’s expanded program.
Valley Community Development will explore expanding its economic development program in partnership with Franklin County CDC. This expansion, while important, will be developed in year two or three allowing Valley Community Development to focus on other priorities in year one, while exploring funding opportunities and refining the structure for this expansion.
- Projected outcomes for year two to three include: a well-integrated and expanded program that focuses on small and medium sized business owners and managers and provides educational workshops, individual coaching, and networking opportunities.
ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT DIRECTIONS
Members, constituents and other key stakeholders will be actively engaged in community engagement activities and other meaningful roles within Valley Community Development’s programs and organization. This engagement is in alignment with Valley Community Development’s mission to empower residents to assume leadership roles and improve the quality of their lives.
- Communication and interaction with Valley Community Development’s constituents and community members will be increased.
- A new Community Engagement Committee will be created that develops a community engagement strategy. The committee will coordinate, and help implement one to two initiatives and activities each year. These may include organizing tenant meetings focused on building improvements or neighborhood beautification, participating in local hearings or other advocacy work, helping to determine new housing development and open space needs, and planning Community Summits or other similar forums.
- Valley Community Development will provide leadership training for members, constituents, and other community residents and tenants to help them better engage in the work of Valley Community Development.
Diversity and Inclusion
Valley Community Development seeks greater diversity in its leadership and membership. Valley Community Development’s mission statement reflects the organization’s top priorities of empowering individuals with diverse incomes and backgrounds. The projected outcomes are as follows:
- The Board will increase its external relationships and outreach with other organizations who serve communities of color.
- The Board will have increased its racial/ethnic and other dimensions of diversity in its membership and leadership, including program constituents and low income residents.
- The Valley Community Development Board and staff are committed to ongoing internal discussions of diversity, inclusion, social justice, racial justice, and power issues.
- The Board and Valley Community Development as an organization will use intentional inclusive practices for its meetings, practices, policies, and other ongoing work.
Valley Community Development’s 30th Anniversary events will be designed to increase Valley’s visibility and fund development capacity. Planning shall be held in late 2015 for the 2017 events.
- All Board members will be trained in individual donor fundraising skills and be engaged in individual donor fundraising (e.g., such as CITC, suggesting potential donors, meeting with potential donors, organizing events).
- A Resource Development Director responsible for fundraising will be hired in year three of the strategic plan (starting part time if necessary).
- All Board members will make a financial contribution each year to Valley Community Development thereby ensuring 100% participation.
- Unrestricted operating income will have increased by at least 10% each year for five years.
The Valley Community Development board will:
- Be an inclusive board that discusses issues of diversity, cultural competency and power issues and is reflective of its program and resident diversity.
- Have increased its engagement in individual donor fundraising.
- Be actively engaged in advocacy and community engagement strategy and implementation.
- Have strengthened committees, clear goals, and effective committee leadership.
- Meet at least once a year off-site to review and revise the strategic plan and set board goals for the year.
- Assess its own performance on a yearly basis.
Strategic Communications, Marketing, Technology
- Valley Community Development will have a more active social media presence and increased visibility in the community and region. There will be a strategic communications plan that includes increased social media, a quarterly newsletter and other media visibility. It will also have software/technology that will aid the organization in managing its fund development activities, increase Board and committee collaborative work, and more effectively engage constituents and stakeholders.
STRATEGIC PLAN AS MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE TOOL: PLAN FOR UPDATING
This strategic plan will be a “living document” that is flexible and continually revised depending upon external and internal changes, new needs, and unforeseen developments. It is intended to be a working management tool, which Valley Community Development staff will use on a consistent basis, to assist in program development, implementation, and outcome measurement. The Valley Community Development Board of Directors also will use this plan as a guide for implementing governance strategies, for which the Board is responsible as outlined in the plan. In addition, the plan will help the Board in their oversight and evaluation of overall programmatic and organizational strategic directions as described. Finally, this strategic plan will serve as a guiding map as it moves into its next phase of empowering low and moderate income populations to improve the quality of their lives and assume leadership roles in their communities.
For more information about Valley Community Development: www.valleycdc.com
Valley Community Development
256 Pleasant St., Suite A
Northampton, MA 01060
Tel: (413) 586-5855
Fax: (413) 586-7521