Urban Fellows Gain Experience And Knowledge on Best Practices In Urban Redevelopment Through the CUREx Program

Publication Date November 1, 2006

GRANT DESCRIPTION

The urban fellowship program at the Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence,(CUREx) University of Pennsylvania, aims to place talented young professionals in fellowship with top redevelopment organizations through the country. It waslaunched in 2003 with initial support from Knight Foundation.

ASSESSMENT PURPOSE AND APPROACH

Over three years, key participants in the fellowship program were followed. Key Questions

  • Did the CUREx program meet its goals to offer a program to recruit and train new entrants to the field, and how well was this accomplished?
  • Does the achievement of these goals offer particular value and address core needs in the field?
  • What are the field’s needs, how are they evolving and what type of program adds the most value?

Approach: The assessment included in this final report draws on interviews with twelve board members, representatives from 15 of the 17 host organizations and all of the fellows from each of three cohorts over three years.

Assessment Partners: This report was produced by Patrizi Associates.

PROJECT FINDINGS

  • Fellows – Feedback has strengthened the overall experience for fellows. Host-fellow matching, training programs, mentoring and exposure to the urban development field has improved over the years, providing a generally positive and unique experience.
  • Host Organizations – Expressed no drawback in hosting fellows, but did reveal mixed feelings about the program’s training and mentoring obligations. They confirmed that each cohort of fellows has produced at least one or two potential leaders in the field and that every individual who has participated in the program will become competent professionals in the field.
  • The Program – Limited funding has forced the program to drop sponsorship of fellows’ salaries (they now negotiate themselves), and a lack of available positions has shifted focus from creating urban-redevelopers to finding them. This also reflects difficulties in satisfying both fellows and host organization needs.
  • The Field and its Future – Fellowship programs are notoriously difficult to run. To ensure future success, CUREx must pursue more detailed information about the market forces that drive the internal dynamics of many of the model host firms already involved in this program.

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