Recognizing the importance of longitudinal analysis, in August 2010—approximately two years after the grants were awarded—the Case Foundation reached out again to all 20 MIYO grantees to see what had happened with their projects. The Foundation was able to reach 19 of the 20 grantees and conducted interviews with each to ask for updates on their progress.
Of the 19 grantees contacted, 16 MIYO grantees (80 percent) reported that they had continued their efforts beyond the final grant period. Of these, ten reported that they continued to be successful in meeting all six indicators of citizen-centered work.
Of the remaining six grantees, four indicated that they had difficulty in developing a plan for how deliberation would lead to forming solutions, and two were struggling with ensuring diverse representation. Two of the six organizations found it challenging to ensure that the meetings didn’t reflect a pre-determined agenda and that it went beyond a “one shot” effort. Three of the 19 projects had ended or been forced to close, due largely to the inability of the original leaders to continue serving in that capacity.
Auspiciously, all 19 of those contacted said they were committed to building on these efforts in the future and many pointed to concrete examples of how they were already working toward that goal:
- In Wisconsin, Dunn County Community Visioning (DCCV), a community visioning project has begun replicating its deliberation model in communities around the country and in Canada.
- In New Orleans, Citizen Participation helped secure passage of a charter amendment that mandates a citizen participation program in the city’s operations and that the city will likely subsidize. There will also be a chapter on citizen participation included in the master plan for the city.
- Conversations for Change, an effort to convene police officers and community citizens in New York City, started slowly but now has “100 percent support” from the police department; in fact, some of the project’s “most committed participants are NYPD officers.” The group has also been publicly recognized by the Bronx borough president and others with reach and influence in the community.
- In Vermont, Front Porch Forum, a project to connect people online now has 20,000 users across the state and more than 100,000 postings and was recently featured in Yankee magazine. The piece described how the forum helped connect a dying young mother with some of her neighbors whom she’d never met. After learning about the mother’s health problems, neighbors arranged for dinner to be brought to her house every night, volunteered to walk her dog, drove her children to school, and sent the family expressions of support.
- In Philadelphia, Juveniles for Justice, which is helping young people in the juvenile justice system reintegrate into their communities, was asked to make a presentation about its work to the city’s Department of Health and Human services. It has also just created a similar effort focused on young people in the foster care system.
- In Florida, the Summit for Environmental Action has spawned four committees, one of which is now part of the local government, to find solutions to issues identified by community residents in convenings held by the group during the grant period. All of these committees are now increasingly being asked to partner with other organizations to leverage this work. Recently, Good Magazine and the Ringling College of Art and Design partnered with one committee to run a campaign to encourage students to design new solutions to the community’s water problems.
- In Chicago, Leaders of the New School (LONS) recruited young people from the city’s southwest side to meet and discuss community issues and the power of art, especially social media and hip hop music, to inspire social change. Initially launched with 20 young people, the project is expanding to include 35 more participants. The project went beyond just the individual participants, however, reaching more than 400 community residents—parents, educators, religious leaders, and others—who took part in LONS’ activities during the grant year. The first class of young leaders also has agreed to assume leadership in raising the funds needed to make the project financially sustainable.
Grantees were also forthright about what they weren’t able to achieve and why:
- County and city budget cuts were a serious issue for two MIYO grantees that counted on public resources for support. Both, however, noted that these cuts also presented opportunities for them. As one leader said, “The recession in some ways was a blessing in disguise because those cuts led to an increase in the awareness about the need for more civic dialogue and volunteering.” Another commented that “the financial crisis ended up spurring support for our project from the community. Interest has increased but so have the challenges.”
- A major challenge for a few grantees was keeping the momentum going, specifically, keeping people interested in the project.
- An initiative to convene new immigrants and community residents grappled with language barriers, as well as many participants’ lack of knowledge about and access to computers/technology. To overcome these issues, the group constructed a community map showing differences and intersections among the participants and what happens when “a diverse group of people come together.”
Funding was an ongoing challenge for several of the projects, but not necessarily one that precluded them from moving forward. One exception was a project in the Midwest, which reported being “stretched too thin” and in need of funding to ensure public involvement in completing a city planning process.