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DOJ Taps LISC to help drive down crime and drive up confidence in West Philadelphia and other communities across the nation

October 4, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice is tapping the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help attack crime hotspots in 15 cities nationwide, including Philadelphia, as part of a sweeping effort to improve the quality of life in troubled communities.

LISC was awarded $1 million to guide the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI), bringing law enforcement, civic and economic leaders to the table with the neighbors themselves with the goal of making streets safe so business can grow.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Mount Vernon Manor and residents of Mantua to make their neighborhood safer,” said Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of LISC’s Philadelphia office, which has invested more than $300 million over 30 years to improve the quality of life in the city’s neighborhoods.

Mantua residents and stakeholders created a transformation plan earlier this year.

“In order to prosper, people need to feel safe from crime and blight.  We tackle crime as part of a comprehensive approach that helps residents define what they want their community to be and then taps neighborhood and institutional resources to make it happen.”

In West Philadelphia, Mount Vernon Manor was awarded $599,982.00 to implement community safety priority strategies identified during the We Are Mantua! Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Initiative revitalization plan. Mantua residents and stakeholders developed the plan through a series of community meetings during the first half of 2012.

The We Are Mantua! BCJI is a partnership that includes Mt. Vernon Manor, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern Pennsylvania, Mantua Community Improvement Corporation, The Philadelphia Police Department, Drexel University, The HUB Coalition, Mantua faith-based institutions, and residents.

Philadelphia LISC is supporting We Are Mantua’s efforts as an active participant in both planning and implementation. For example, LISC helped Mantua residents create a civic association for the neighborhood. Going forward, LISC will help the We Are Mantua! Byrne Innovation Collaborative develop and implement a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach to reducing crime in Mantua, drawing on expertise both locally and nationally in providing CPTED training and helping communities implement comprehensive crime reduction strategies that work. Finally, LISC will also provide support in the areas of program development, organizational development, financing, and funding to help ensure the sustainability of this project.

Mantua residents are beginning to implement the changes in their neighborhood.

“This partnership between HUD, LISC, and the Mantua community will be successful because the residents of Mantua are ultimately the ones driving neighborhood change,” said Frishkoff. Residents and stakeholders involved in We Are Mantua!, in the Mantua Civic Association, and in this Byrne Innovation Initiative know the problems and where these problems come from, he explained. And they are being creative and proactive about creating lasting solutions so rampant crime becomes a distant memory for Mantua.

“People cannot live well—they can’t prosper—if their neighborhoods are dangerous and crumbling,” said Julia Ryan, director of LISC’s Community Safety Initiative, a nearly 20-year effort to connect improvements in safety to the overall health of neighborhoods.

“We have to tackle it as part of a comprehensive program that focuses on helping residents define what they want their community to be and then tap the neighborhood and institutional resources to make it happen.”

LISC’s grant was part of $11 million in BCJI funds awarded to help lift up cities from Chula Vista, Ca., to Buffalo, N.Y.—in part by making their streets safer. As the national technical assistance provider, LISC’s role is to help local neighborhoods across the country implement the strategy.  The impact the grants can have on everyday life in troubled areas stands to be substantial, Ryan said.

“Many people surrounded by crime and violence live with a kind of PTSD,” she explained.  “Persistent crime breeds relentless fear.  It cripples local businesses and schools.  It threatens homes and jobs, and compromises people’s health everyday. We can’t ‘arrest’ our way out of this.”

LISC will draw on best practice Crime Prevention models from communities across the country, such as University City District’s Safety Ambassador program.

LISC’s approach brings community, business and development leaders together with local law enforcement to think and act strategically about crime, Ryan said. The LISC model has been endorsed by more than 30 police chiefs for its success in making more effective and efficient use of law enforcement resources.

“These partners work on safe housing and youth programs. They integrate programs on storefront revitalization and park clean-ups. They consider larger issues of quality of life,” Ryan said. “Taken together, these efforts drive down crime and drive up local confidence so that private investment returns to troubled places.”

The BCJI Program is a part of the Obama Administration’s larger Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which brings together the departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Treasury to align federal programs focused on neighborhood revitalization and to implement pilot programs between agencies.

As part of its work, LISC will explore with the Justice Department ways to make sure local and federal efforts stay on the same page—so that on-the-ground strategies comport with larger federal goals.

Strengthening relationships between local law enforcement and community members goes a long way to improving safety.

The new BCJI grant program will fund collaborative initiatives through the following: Institute for Public Strategies, Chula Vista, Calif.; City of Lowell, Mass.; City of Baltimore, Md.; Detroit Crime Commission, City of Detroit, Mich.; City of Omaha, Neb.; Center for Court Innovation, New York, N.Y.; Westminster Foundation, NY, Buffalo, N.Y.; East End Community Services Corp., Dayton, Ohio; Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, Portland, Ore.; Mt. Vernon Manor, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.; City of Austin, Texas; Housing Authority of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas; City of Seattle, Wash.; City of Milwaukee, Wis.; and City of Charleston, West Va.

LISC operates local programs in Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo, Seattle and New York City, as well as in San Diego and Boston, near other Byrne grantees.

Information about the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program is available at For more about the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, go to

About LISC
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $12 billion to build or rehab 289,000 affordable homes and develop 46 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. Since 1994, LISC support has leveraged nearly $40 billion in total development activity. For more information, visit

About LISC Community Safety Initiative
LISC’s Community Safety Initiative (CSI) helps local police and community partners achieve marked improvements in safety, economic vitality, and neighborhood health.  CSI has spurred double-digit reductions in crime in neighborhoods across the country, paving the way for more than $265 million in real estate development in neighborhoods where crime previously deterred investment.  For more, visit


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