A Neighborhood Improvement Journal - Summer 2021


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Neighborhoods USA

By Robert Gibbons

Neighborhoods, USA, (NUSA) the largest non-profit grassroots organization in the nation, is committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations. Founded in 1975 to share information and experiences by building stronger communities, NUSA encourages networking as a way to facilitate the development of partnerships between neighborhood organizations, government and the private sector. The heart of the organization is its annual conference held each May.

Originally begun as the National Conference of Neighborhood Concerns, the first conference was held in Kansas City under the direction of activists Judy Lafoon of that city and Howard Hallman of Washington, D.C. Hallman had received a Ford Foundation Grant to study decentralization of city services into neighborhoods. He contacted community leaders and civic officials from several cities and invited them to come together to discuss ways to bring neighborhood groups into their local decision-making processes through neighborhood advisory councils. Lafoon, having agreed to host the sessions, worked with Hallman to organize a three-day conference which featured workshops and neighborhood tours.

The organization and its conferences fostered the growth of the “neighborhood movement,” encouraging the formation and recognition of grassroots neighborhood networking. NUSA conferences have now been held from coast to coast and presently focus on alternating host sites annually from states east of the Mississippi River to those west of it. Over the past 33 years, the conferences have been held as far north as Anchorage, Alaska and as far south as Hollywood, Florida.

Besides hosting its annual conferences, NUSA is known for the presentation of the national Neighborhood of the Year Award (NOTY) and the Best Neighborhood Program Award. The Best Neighborhood Program Award was initiated in 2006 to recognize municipalities for their implementation of programs and/or projects that benefit a segment of their neighborhood communities. The NOTY Award has long recognized outstanding grassroots projects conducted by neighborhood organizations to improve the quality of life in their communities. In 2009, the NOTY award will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the conference to be held in Spokane, Washington.

Robert Gibbons

For more information about Neighborhoods, USA, check out the organization’s website at www.nusa.org.


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