The NCLB strategy is based on four fundamental principles: collaboration, coordination, community participation and resources leveraging. These principles set NCLB apart from traditional approaches of the past and are a key to the success of the strategy at the neighbourhood level.
Adaptability is a fundamental principle to the NCLB strategy which can be used in urban or rural settings and can be applied to address various socio-economic demographic challenges and issues faced by communities. The principle of adaptability encourages absolute contextualization of the strategy and recognizes that there is no one model for community development. The strategy helps to shape the ‘model’ of development for each community.
A host of government departments, social service agencies, community organizations, private sector businesses and residents play an important role in community development. The NCLB approach is to bring all stakeholders investing in the same neighbourhood/s in various ways around a single table. This facilitates sharing information, jointly reviewing local level plans and taking strategic actions, alone or in partnership, for maximizing the return on their investment.
All service providers have a responsibility to the community and a stake in its future. Often, these stakeholders do not have opportunities to coordinate and share information, let alone do strategic planning and pool their resources to jointly address the roots of community problems. The NCLB approach requires communities to establish a collaborative process to capitalize on the full potential that the formal and intentional interaction of stakeholders can provide.
Collaboration leads to permanent channels of communications among stakeholders, partnerships among organizations with similar goals, a strategic approach to addressing local level problems, a broader support for the NCLB strategy and additional resources and support.
A number of government agencies and community organizations provide extraordinary services to the community. Most community members may not even know many service providers in their area and the goals, objectives and services offered by these organizations. Moreover, the service providers may not know exactly where overlapping or duplication of services is taking place at the grassroots level.
The NCLB strategic approach brings together the officials who represent these organizations and assist in coordinating their activities. Both coordination across disciplines – such as law enforcement, social services and economic development – and coordination across levels of government and municipal services are critical to the NCLB strategy.
Coordination enables effective allocation and concentration of resources in designated neighbourhoods, a better match of services with identified community needs, elimination of overlap and duplication, and maximum benefit from existing services and programs.
Residents’ engagement is key. NCLB provides residents with an opportunity and power for input into community development planning and action processes. Communities that are engaged in their own local level assessment and planning to solve their own problems function more effectively than communities which depend on services provided by “outsiders.” The NCLB’s approach involves residents in assessment and decision-making processes and encourages broad citizen involvement, which is more effective than the programs designed to simply provide services to people or dependent clients. Therefore, community participation through social mobilization activities is one of the core components of the NCLB strategy.
Funding to meet the entire scope of needs, which may be required to transform and revitalize a neighbourhood experiencing a multitude of problems – ranging from high crime, and social and economic decay – is limited. The NCLB strategy is an opportunity for a community to leverage the available resources to support strategic planning and organizational structures, which would enable it to tap into additional resources from local and provincial governments, foundations, corporations and other funding organizations. The fact that the community problems come to the fore from the community’s collective voice is powerful. It is not some outside agency that comes to assess, prioritize and plan for the concerned communities. Although a front line staff from a local agency may facilitate the community in the implementation of the various phases of the NCLB process, it is, in fact, the community which identifies and prioritizes problems and concerns, and suggests local solutions to the rest of the stakeholders for possible support.
Other local development initiatives in the concerned neighbourhoods get seamlessly integrated under the NCLB’s broader umbrella. The NCLB sites are well placed to capitalize on all available funding sources in both the public and private sectors. In fact, NCLB sites are expected to leverage all available resources in order to fully fund their strategies for local development. By the end of the NCLB initial process, the community has a plan with various components and activities that need to be undertaken.