Checking in with 2016's nonprofit case studies

April 4, 2017

Checking in with 2016's nonprofit case studies

In 2016, we heard from Dawana Wade of Salama Urban Ministries, Corey Gephart of St. Luke’s Community House, and Melanie Shinbaum of Fannie Battle Day Care about what was taking place in their neighborhoods. Now in 2017, check in with these nonprofit leaders in the following Q&As:

 

Dawana Wade, CEO of Salama Urban Ministries (in photo, on right)
 
Q: Could you briefly describe the situation Salama Urban Ministries was in at this time last year in terms of gentrification? What were you seeing in your neighborhood, and what actions were you considering?
 
A: As you know, we are located in the Edgehill neighborhood, and there is public housing development and many low-income residents there. Over the years, however, that has begun to change drastically. People wonder whether they need to move, and there is a lot of uncertainty. We work with kids, and even they know about these issues because they hear the adults talking about it.
 
Additionally, Salama owns property and folks come by regularly to ask if we are willing to sell. Salama wants to continue serving the Edgehill neighborhood but we are unsure which direction to go: should we sell and use the additional funding to allow for longer-term programming? That’s always a good thing. Or how do we make what we do appealing to our new neighbors? How do we include them in our community-building?
 
Q: How has your neighborhood changed over the past year?
 
A: One year ago we were pretty much in the same situation that we are now. Change seems to be coming even more quickly. It’s still very alarming. But we’ve been approached in real ways about our property as well.
 
Q: In last year’s session, you mentioned how important it was to consider big, community changes like gentrification in strategic planning. Now one year later, do you have anything you’d like to add to that?
 
A: Certainly -- because gentrification is not going to stop anytime soon, some folks are still going to be displaced. So if you aren’t planning ahead or thinking three to five years down the road, you are planning to fail. You don’t want to be in a place where you aren’t serving those who need your services.
 
Q: What’s next for Salama on this issue?
 
We’re still exploring options for what happens after 2019 when our lease is up. If we decide to sell, we want to maintain a real and prominent presence in the neighborhood, while continuing to pay attention to the need and where people might be going.
 
We have begun partnering with other community agencies: advocacy groups and others -- not necessarily just other nonprofits. This helps us keep the conversation going about the tremendous changes we are seeing in the neighborhood. We’re engaged in broader-level conversations about development but we’re also getting involved in grassroots organizing that gives voice to residents. I strongly believe that there is only so much we can get done separately.
 
Q: Looking on the city level, what gives you hope and what keeps you up at night?
 
A: What gives me hope is the fact that there are more grassroots opportunities popping up and they are proving to be safe spaces where people can be heard. Real change takes place when those we serve are empowered.
 
Coalition-building is happening and the process is being refined. We are learning what to do from other areas in order to advance more quickly.
 
What scares me is that we still have a long way to go. More money than ever has been pledged to the Barnes Fund, so how do we apply that? Meanwhile, development is still happening, and the middle class is continuing to shrink.
 
 
Corey Gephart, CEO of St. Luke's Community House (middle in photo)
 
Q: Could you briefly describe the situation St. Luke’s was in at this time last year in terms of gentrification? What were you seeing in your neighborhood, and what actions were you considering?
 
A: We noticed rapid turnover throughout the neighborhood and surrounding area, and while this wasn’t something completely new, it had become so much more prominent that we needed to address it as an organization.
 
We started the strategic planning process keeping this in mind, and through our research and planning process, we found that there was not a decrease in the need for our services; if anything, our clients are coming to us, both locally and from other neighborhoods in Nashville, because they know that we are here and the types of things that St. Luke’s can help them with.
 
Q: How has your neighborhood changed over the past year?
 
A: The neighborhood is continuing to turn over and it is not going to stop. We continue to see the need for our services. For us in the next three to five years, we want to hone our programming, clarify our mission, and keep our finger on the pulse of these changes.
 
Q: In last year’s session, you spoke about the need for partnerships and collaboration. Now one year later, do you have anything you’d like to add?
 
A: Ultimately, when you are forming a partnership, the organizations should be like-minded. For us, it’s about quality. We want to provide quality services with respect and dignity, so we look for others who share these same values while also filling a gap in services. This helps us both move forward, and it’s a win-win for the community on the whole as well.
 
We are neighborhood-based but we are looking to expand our reach. It’s our social responsibility to make sure that all are being served. For now, people know where we are and they are still coming.
 
Q: What would you want other nonprofits to know about the planning process?
 
A: When you go through an extended planning process, be patient and trust the process. It’s important to have a board that gives you grace in doing that. The planning document itself isn’t what’s the most important about strategic planning -- it’s the mindset.
 
Q: Looking on the city level, what gives you hope and what keeps you up at night?
 
A: What gives me hope is the increased emphasis on collaboration and working together for collective impact. We’re also seeing that new style of leadership in the Mayor’s Office.
 
But what worries me is that there is not enough affordable housing. It’s great and positive that Nashville is moving forward, but we seem to be seeing a divide between economic classes and we need to be mindful of that.

 

Melanie Shinbaum, Executive Director of Fannie Battle Day Home (in photo, on left)

Q: Could you briefly describe the situation Fannie Battle Day Home was in at this time last year in terms of gentrification? What were you seeing in your neighborhood, and what actions were you considering?
 
A: A year ago we were collecting a lot of data, and we were seeing the neighborhood change dramatically. We were trying to strategically decide if we could continue to meet the needs while staying in our East Nashville location.
 
The data showed us that while East Nashville is changing, there is also a significant need. We looked at the Metro Social Services poverty map and other sources that showed us the income levels of the surrounding neighborhood. So we knew that we weren't going to have a hard time staying filled, but we are considering changes about how we meet those needs. We are working to streamline and strengthen our enrollment process because we want to be very sure that we are successfully meeting families' needs.
 
Q: How has your neighborhood changed over the past year?
 
A: There is still a lot of new building happening but it does seem to be slowing down. In East Nashville, the wave of gentrification in Nashville really started here so there hasn't been a huge change within the last year.
 
Q: In last year’s session, you were grappling with these big issues with your board. Now one year later, how has involving your board affected Fannie Battle’s approach to this issue, and what would you say to other nonprofits to encourage them to get their board involved?
 
A: Our board as a whole is more well-versed in what's happening throughout the neighborhood, and throughout the city. Our conversations are always there: how are we meeting the needs in this area? It has made them more aware. The board continues to be engaged and interested in increasing our ability to help those who are approaching the benefits cliff.
 
We have expanded the number of children we serve, and we are also working with partners to meet the needs of our families. A year ago we had spent a lot of the previous year mining data from the community and from our own systems, so the board feels confident. The data has really allowed us, as an organization, to embrace the need that exists and it allows us to better meet those needs.
 
Q: Looking on the city level, what gives you hope and what keeps you up at night?
 
A: For us in early childhood education, there's a lot happening on the city and state level. While in the past year we haven't seen a huge change, the city as a whole is still changing. And while right now there's more need that we can currently meet, we are also committed to continuing to look at the data to help us make decisions. We want to make sure we are monitoring along the way so that we're meeting the right needs.
 
Because of the changing climates it is forcing us all to be more mission-focused, and I think that is a good thing to come out of the change. There is also an increased necessity that we work more collaboratively so that we can be more nimble.
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