Two job opportunities in New Bedford

The City of New Bedford is taking applications for a Director of Environmental Stewardship. This department head position reports directly to the mayor and advises a broad range of city departments on environmental issues. Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, at least five years of experience, an understanding of and experience with environmental laws and regulations, and project management experience. Details are available here.

Looking to pick up a few hours on weeknights? Schools on Wheels, a tutoring program for homeless youth, is seeking a site coordinator in New Bedford. This position requires availability on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-8 pm. Read more details over at the New Bedford Guide.

Creative placemaking grant opportunity

The National Endowment for the Arts is seeking applicants for its Our Town program, which funds creative placemaking projects that endeavor to revitalize communities through collaborative, arts-based partnerships. Applicants must reflect a partnership between at least one nonprofit and a local government entity. Grant awards will range from $25,000 to $150,000. The deadline is March 1.

Build your capacity in 2012 with help from AmeriCorps

It’s a familiar Catch-22 for so many small, urban nonprofits: more hands are needed to bolster your impact and attract more resources, but there aren’t enough resources to pay for more hands. What to do?

Massachusetts organizations facing this dilemma should check out two options: the AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship. The deadline for VISTA concept papers, which should detail how your organization would employ a VISTA and share in the cost (usually $10-12,000), is January 6. More information can be found here.

Meanwhile, the MA Promise Fellowship deadline is February 2. This program places fellows with youth-focused organizations across the state who serve for one year (35 hrs/week). Cost sharing is again required by the host agency (between $8,800 and $13,750). Check out the RFP here, and stay tuned for information on a Fall River information session that has not yet been scheduled.

UPDATE: The South Coast information session will be held at UMass Dartmouth on Wednesday, January 18 from 10-11:30 AM. We’ll post a more specific location when it’s available.

From the local headlines:

Urban Initiative to co-sponsor At-Risk Youth National Forum, 2/19-22

This February, the Urban Initiative will be co-sponsoring the National Dropout Prevention Center’s 24th annual At-Risk Youth National Forum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The theme of this year’s forum is “Connecting the Dots of Collaboration.” Topics will include dropout prevention, attendance/truancy, English language learners, community partnerships, parental involvement, alternative programs, curriculum/instruction, and leadership development.

Check out the event brochure here, and contact us to learn more!


Federal budget update: Promise Neighborhoods deal reached

UNCA’s Building Neighborhoods blog just posted that an agreement has been reached regarding Promise Neighborhoods, the Department of Education grant program that encourages communities to revitalize neighborhoods through a collaborative, wraparound services approach for the cradle-to-college set. The program’s funding will double to $60 million in 2012, which will be welcome news for both prospective applicants and planning grantees who will be looking to scale up efforts with implementation grants during the next round.


On 2012 tax rates and picking sides

In cities like New Bedford and Fall River, a split tax rate means that homeowners are subject to a lower property tax rate than commercial enterprises. As these cities and other local communities are discussing tax rate increases to offset anticipated cuts in local aid, decision makers are being forced to make tough choices when it comes to raising revenue–and from whom they should raise it. After all, homeowners are faring no better than small businesses in this economy, and both are important constituents for elected officials: homeowners vote, while businesses create jobs and bolster the tax base. So how do you balance these competing interests?

Earlier this week, Brockton took the side of business by raising the residential tax rate by a higher margin, so that the average homeowner will see an  increase of $150/year while the average business owner will pay $172 less. Naturally, this move was cheered by the Metro South Chamber of Commerce.

Tonight, city councilors in New Bedford and Fall River will decide whether to apply the maximum burden to businesses (175 percent) or to stick with something lower (170 percent) to acknowledge business owners’ need for relief. In New Bedford, Mayor Lang has recommended a freeze on all tax rates, while today’s Standard Times suggests that the City Council might make an incremental shift. It’s unclear what Fall River will do, but it will be interesting to compare these cities’ approaches in the context of potential economic development implications.

UPDATE: Fall River went with a 170 percent ratio, acknowledging the need to encourage business growth. New Bedford’s City Council voted 6-5 in favor of a 171 percent shift.

Is city living good for your immune system?

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week (is there a Hallmark card for that?), which got me wondering whether urban dwellers have better immune systems because they’re exposed to so many people–and germs. After all, a subway car is not too dissimilar to a daycare center: uncovered coughs, shoving, and issues with sharing abound. And we know that in the long term, kids in daycare have stronger immune systems.

Without spending too much time researching this question, I came across an interesting National Geographic piece that illustrated the impact ancient cities have had on bolstering present-day immunity. At the same time, however, a quick glance at this Google Map tracking the spread of H1N1 reminds us that urban areas were particularly hard-hit.

Moral of the story? Get a flu shot! Find a vaccination location nearby at

Our newsletter is live!

The Urban Initiative’s first monthly e-newsletter hit inboxes this morning. Did you miss it? Click here to read, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss next month’s issue!



Free technical assistance available for local nonprofits

UPDATE: This RFP is now closed. Based on the great response the Urban Initiative has received, we hope to do this again in future semesters. Meanwhile, if you’d like to discuss opportunities to work with our staff to address the evaluation needs of your program, please contact Colleen Dawicki (

In an era of increased competition for grant funding, it has become critical for organizations to shift their focus from outputs (e.g. number of people served) to outcomes when designing, monitoring, and reporting on programs. Yet many organizations do not have the capacity to coordinate these efforts.  We want to help!

The Urban Initiative is seeking proposals from local nonprofits who would benefit from technical assistance in designing a logic model and an evaluation plan for a particular program. Organizations will be selected to work one-on-one with a Public Policy graduate student enrolled in Dr. Weiwei Lin’s Program Evaluation course during the spring semester. Interested in learning more? Email