For NeighborWorks America, the year 2016 was framed by the theme, "Creating Economic Opportunity." Without opportunities that are available to people of all ages, incomes and races—whether to establish a home, build up savings, get an education or obtain a job—nothing else is possible. Families will not prosper, and neither will communities.
This theme, already a focus of our network organizations, became a rallying point for us—a thread that ran throughout all of our work, from the grants we awarded, to our event topics, to our offerings in professional development, training and education.
At the Wednesday symposia that anchored our NeighborWorks Training Institutes in 2016, we learned from the work of our network members and other experts how to create opportunities through cross-sector collaborations, examine our work through the lens of race and culture, and build strong communities through place-based strategies. We plan to continue our focus on creating opportunities throughout 2017, with a particular emphasis on pathways out of poverty.
Furthering the theme of creating economic opportunity, we convened in Phoenix to discuss mortgage lending in Indian Country—a continuation of our work to expand access to credit in underserved and low-wealth communities. We also met in St. Louis, where the community of Ferguson continues to heal. This series of expert convenings will continue in April, when we co-host "Hope in the Delta," a focused look at solutions for one of the country's most concentrated areas of persistent poverty.
In this report, we share some insights from our symposia speakers, along with a few examples of how NeighborWorks and its network strive to create opportunities for all, every single day. You can read more in our book, "NeighborWorks Works: Practical Solutions from America's Community Development Network."
Paul Weech, CEO