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Community Engagement and Evaluation for the Twin Cities Sustainable Communities Program

Photo of downtown Minneapolis from the Stone Arch Bridge

Downtown Minneapolis from the Stone Arch Bridge

November 9, 2010
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The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) has been tapped to provide community engagement and evaluation for a $5 million federal grant that supports planning along the Twin Cities region’s growing network of transit corridors. The grant will help the Met Council and other stakeholders build on existing regional planning efforts to advance transit- and pedestrian-friendly development, provide access to jobs and housing, and promote environmental preservation and energy efficiency.

The Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing (MCNO), a program of CURA, will provide leadership on engagement efforts. MCNO staff will work with the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and Nexus Community Partners to lead a team that will collaborate with organizations, individuals, and government agencies to increase participation in regional planning by immigrant communities, communities of color, and low-income communities. Project partners will develop guidelines and recommendations designed to support the work of community members that will assure access to the information and resources needed to become meaningfully involved in decision-making about their own communities.

Edward Goetz, CURA director, and Laurie McGinnis, Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) director, will also form a data and evaluation team for the project that will work with the policy board and staff at the Metropolitan Council to devise measures of sustainable development, identify data sources, and conduct baseline studies that demonstrate the impact of sustainability planning in regional transit corridors. Both CURA and CTS are units in the Office of the Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration.

Funding for the project, to be implemented in 2011–2013, was awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Metropolitan Council on behalf of a regional consortium including Minnesota Housing, the Counties Transit Improvement Board, Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the McKnight Foundation, and with support from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, and the Ford Foundation.

The grant is one of the first initiatives to emerge from the Obama administration’s $100 million Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Transportation intended to coordinate federal housing, transportation, and other infrastructure investments to protect the environment, promote equitable development, and help to address the challenges of climate change. For more information about the initiative, visit www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html.