"A Big Bet, A Bigger Challenge" by Brett O'Bourke/A Common Machine Productions
Knight Foundation committed $19 million in coordinated grants over five years to 32 national and community organizations working in Miami’s Overtown urban neighborhood to build affordable housing and promote community development; to help train residents and find them jobs; to increase personal savings; and to provide mentoring, after-school and recreational activities. This report explores the effectiveness of the Collaborative Overtown Transformation Project (COTP), an ambitious urban-renewal effort. It addresses the factors that obstructed success in the community development programs.
Approach: The reporter analysis involved interviews with grantee program officials, Overtown community activists and Knight Staff, as well as a review of documents and news reports about various components of COTP.
Report Partners: The report was produced by Andre Oliver.
COTP faced several problems: the lack of a common vision, local distrust and confrontation, the lack of coordination between the key coordinating grantees, and city and county government bureaucracies tied up redevelopment projects.
Programs focused on employment and training, education and recreation worked best as part of COTP efforts. However, other programs failed to deliver on their promises. Efforts to promote micro lending and encourage individual development accounts were not embraced by residents.
The community development area faced the greatest hurdles and delivered the fewest returns. Although nearly 500 units of affordable housing were completed, rebuilt or refurbished, the total is well below aspirations. Observers, Knight grantees and foundation staff highlight significant problems with the top-down strategy employed by Knight Foundation, poor implementation by some grantees and city challenges
To support Living Cities and the Integration Initiative, a multidisciplinary focus on both neighborhood and system transformation in five cities, including St. Paul and Detroit
To support an education and outreach initiative to facilitate the integration of law enforcement into urban policy at the federal and local level
To support the start-up of the Admiral Community Impact Center. The center will advise professional athletes who want to give back to their communities, providing them with marketing support and helping them find the nonprofits that match their goals
To expand and deepen a collaborative investment to improve urban neighborhoods in 23 communities
To help sustain healthy communities in a democracy, we aim to increase the ability of individuals to engage in change. Trabian Shorters on our strategy
Knight Foundation commissions independent journalists to write occasional articles reviewing its grant making and program strategies. Veteran reporters examine grant documents, conduct interviews and offer their perspective on the lessons learned and impact of Knight-supported projects in stories published online and in print.