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2020: What SPARCC Was Built For

SPARCC site summaries detail local response to the challenges of 2020

The SPARCC evaluation aims to understand and document SPARCC’s contribution to systems change related to community development. In the context of the unexpected events of 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement, the six SPARCC sites responded to immediate, emerging challenges while continuing to advance longer-term systems change to promote racial justice. This included housing and transit-related policy changes, directing financial resources towards community-identified priorities, and positioning Black and brown residents hit hardest by the injustices of 2020 into spaces of power where their voices can clarify needs and shape equitable solutions.

SPARCC sites were equipped for the events of 2020 due to the new relationships, trust, and administrative infrastructure built in the first three years of the initiative, which laid the foundation for an effective response in 2020. For example, SPARCC contributed to the sites’ ability to do the following:

COVID-19 Response
SPARCC site tables were poised to act when COVID-19 hit. All sites engaged in responsive, direct-service actions in housing (e.g., advocacy for eviction moratoriums), basic needs (e.g., safety, food, utilities, Wi-Fi), transportation and transit (e.g., personal protective equipment for operators), health care delivery support (e.g., COVID-19 testing), and small business support (e.g., funding).

Table Development
All sites worked on adding and/or amplifying community resident or community-based organization/organizing voices, including more BIPOC-led partners. Over half of the sites worked on strengthening table infrastructure, including hiring staff and increasing capacity.

Community Leadership and Power
All sites offered clear examples of new voices in decision-making spaces, influencing planning/policy processes and priorities, and pushing decision-makers to shift the direction of policy and practice. Tables had established and tested direct feedback loops to communities in the first three years of the initiative that were leveraged in 2020 by both the tables themselves and government entities.

Capital development projects continued to move forward in most sites, including some key pre-development investments in a couple sites that contributed to projects moving forward and/or influenced who controlled the project (e.g., BIPOC, community-responsive developers).

Policy and Practices
All sites worked on cultivating their local policy environments to increase the likelihood formal policies in alignment with SPARCC values could occur in the future. They did this through building relationships, increasing awareness, and influencing practice change within government agencies or entities that reach across a county or region (e.g., transit agencies, planning commissions) or establishing regional collaborative infrastructure.

In 2021, all sites are moving beyond emergency response work related to the COVID -19 pandemic and shifting towards long-term recovery strategies.

You can read more about the work of the SPARCC sites in 2020 by reading our SPARCC evaluation site summary package– scroll below or download it here. It features site summaries for the six SPARCC site tables: TransFormation Alliance (Atlanta), Bay Area 4 All, Elevated Chicago, Mile High Connects (Denver), North Memphis VOICE Coalition, and SPARCC LA (Los Angeles). Each summary begins with a (1) brief overview of the history and mission of the table, (2) followed by key progress and impact made in table development, community leadership and power, capital, and policy, and (3) concludes with a section about next steps.

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