Monday, April 14, 2008

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation give Duluth LISC $500,000 for Neighborhood Revitalization

Captions: Wayne Nelson. the Publisher/Editor of Business North newspaper/publication speaks to Polly Talon of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.Middle: Polly Talon (Knight Foundation) Pam Kramer of Duluth LISC and Don Ness, Duluth mayor at a press conference at the Central Hillside Community Center. Right: Tony Cuneo Duluth City Councilor At-Large and Robert Prowless, retired University of Minnesota professor and member of the Duluth Native American community.

DULUTH (April 14, 2008) – Duluth LISC today announced that a $500,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will make five Duluth neighborhoods significant participants in a national effort to involve residents in long-term planning physical improvements and comprehensive community development.

The neighborhoods – Central and East Hillside, Lincoln Park , Morgan Park, and West Duluth – are already targets of LISC’s Creating Neighborhoods That Work – At Home in Duluth Sustainable Community strategy to transform distressed areas into healthy communities of choice and opportunity – good places to work, do business and raise children. LISC, the nation’s leading community development support organization, has been working in Duluth neighborhoods since 1997 and was selected as one of 10 LISC Sustainable Community demonstration sites in 2006.

“We think this grant can be a catalyst for anyone – developers, business owners and residents – interested in investing in the neighborhoods that are getting better and stronger by the day,” said Duluth LISC Executive Director Pam Kramer at a news conference at the Central Hillside Community Center . “It’s definitely a shot in the arm for the revitalization projects we already have under way in such neighborhoods as the West Duluth Business District and Ramsey Village and the Fourth Street corridor in the Central and East Hillside.”

The Knight grant will help Duluth LISC expand new business development in the designated “At Home” neighborhoods, fund various aspects of “quality of life” plan implementation, support neighborhood marketing and communications efforts, and train residents and community organizers in revitalization techniques.

Duluth LISC’s targeted neighborhood approach is partly a consequence of 2005’s Duluth Charrette, a Knight-funded, long-range planning exercise in which Duluth residents, planners, architects, and urban developers created plans for the East Downtown, Hillside and Waterfront neighborhoods. Knight has also invested in a Preservation Development Initiative, a National Trust for Historic Preservation project focusing on how preservation can be an effective driver of economic development.

“LISC understands that good neighborhoods thrive when residents are involved and engaged,” said Knight Foundation Director Polly Talen at the news conference. “It’s gratifying to see this work building on earlier efforts by LISC, Knight and others. LISC and Knight support a multidimensional approach to community development – LISC through its sustainable communities strategy and Knight with its commitment to transforming communities. What’s going on in these five neighborhoods is a vivid example of how those approaches work.”

Kramer emphasized that while LISC and Knight Foundation have laid the groundwork for the comprehensive redevelopment of those neighborhoods, the participation of private developers, residents, and businesses is essential for long-term success.

Since its selection as a LISC Sustainable Community site last year, Duluth LISC has received over $1.6 million from State Farm, Knight Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation, Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation and national LISC. In the last decade LISC has invested more than $63.8 million to help Duluth organizations build 627 affordable homes and apartments and nearly 60,000 square feet of commercial space.

“Knight’s contribution is a reinforcement of the progress Duluth has made and a commitment to its future,” said Michael Rubinger, LISC’s president and CEO. “We think this is a significant moment in the history of community development.”

About LISC LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help community-based organizations revitalize underserved neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised more than $8.6 billion to build or rehabilitate more than 230,000 affordable homes and develop 32 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. For more information, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the Twin Ports and 25 other U.S. communities. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change.
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