The following post appears courtesy of Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary and Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Denise O’Donnell.
This month, the Ash Center for Democratic Government and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government recognized the White House-led Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) as one of the top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Award competition. The recognition commends the Administration’s approach to helping disadvantaged neighborhoods deal with their social, economic and public safety challenges. The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), through its Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), plays a critical role in NRI by building neighborhood capacity to address crime, housing, health and other problems that contribute to community distress.
More than 10 million Americans live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. Residents of those neighborhoods face an array of interconnected challenges, from failing schools and inadequate housing to low employment and poor health. The goal of NRI is to help create safe and healthy neighborhoods by breaking down barriers to collaborative problem-solving.
NRI provides federal resources to empower local action. It brings community stakeholders together to maximize the impact of their neighborhood resources. The Department of Justice works closely with the Departments of Treasury, Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development to share ideas and information. BJA plays a central role in its Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, which helps disadvantaged neighborhoods find and access critical resources, and its Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program, a place-based initiative designed to address persistent crime problems.
NRI is a great example of government-supported innovation. Many of the programs recognized by the Ash Center this year focus on generating smart solutions to seemingly intractable public policy problems. For instance, the General Services Administration’s website, Challenge.gov, allows the government to solicit solutions through a series of contests, including a Body Armor Challenge managed by OJP’s National Institute of Justice. The Department of Justice is proud to join its federal partners in applying these innovations in the nation’s most troubled areas.
For more information about the Innovations in American Government Award please visit: www.ash.harvard.edu/Home/News-Events/Press-Releases/Innovations/Top-25-Innovations-in-Government-Announced2.
For more information about the NRI, please visit: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/oua/initiatives/neighborhood-revitalization.