Strategic Plan 2016-2021
Greater Four Corners Action Coalition
367 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA
Phone: (617) 436-0289
Fax: (617) 825-3308
Strategic Plan 2016-2021
Greater Four Corners Action Coalition
Strategic Plan 2016-2021
Completed December 2015
STRATEGIC PLAN OVERVIEW
ARC Associates facilitated a series of strategic development sessions for the Board and staff of the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition (GFCAC) over an eight month period in 2015. Between sessions, staff and Board members carried out assignments to refine ideas for the next five years of work at GFCAC. The process was designed to review GFCAC’s current strategic plan, identify work that needed to be carried forward in the coming years, and identify new areas of work central to supporting residents and expanding the vibrancy of the Greater Four Corners Community of Dorchester, MA. Greater Four Corners staff then developed this plan to identify long-range goals and inform a set of interim implementation actions to be achieved in 1-3 years.
In addition, GFCAC has a made a commitment to being as effective and successful as possible. In so doing, GFCAC, with support from the Barr Foundation, agreed to undergone a nine-month organizational assessment administered by ARC Associates. The long-term organizational development plan that has evolved from this internal and external review of the organization provides a tool to spur further dialogue among GFCAC’s board, staff and constituents about the organization’s strengths and challenges at this certain point in time, providing direction and learning for everyone involved.
This strategic plan and the organizational development plan (separate document) together give GFCAC a roadmap for expanding its capacities to build the most impactful opportunities and processes for attaining their mission:
To empower communities of color and low-income communities in Greater Four Corners area of Boston by promoting neighborhood stabilization in the Four Corners community.
Over the course of eight months, ARC Associates interviewed all staff, board leadership, and external partners to build a context from which to develop the strategic plan and the organizational development assessment. The Executive Director, staff and Board had regularly scheduled calls and in-person meetings with the consultants to:
- Engage in an organization-wide assessment of internal operations
- Revisit and affirm GFCAC’s mission and vision
- Review the 2010-2015 Strategic plan and identify bodies of work that needed to be carried forward into the new strategic plan
- Identify critical challenges that the community currently faces which form the basis for strategies in the coming three years
- Identify current opportunities and new bodies of work to be addressed by GFCAC
- Refine of central goals moving into the new strategic plan
- Develop objectives and strategies and shorter-term actions within the new strategic plan
- Identify organizational development goals based on the organizational assessment and development plan
- Present a draft strategic plan to GFCAC members at the annual member meeting to gain further input
GREATER FOUR CORNERS HISTORY
Four Corners was once known as one of Boston’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The Four Corners Public Safety Action Project (FCSAP) was founded in 1991 as a response to the violent and uncontrollable drug trafficking in the Four Corners area of Dorchester. Residents and merchants were terrified of and overwhelmed by gangs that were hanging on corners and controlling the streets. In response, several local churches, non-profit agencies, and community organizations collaborated to create the FCSAP. As the project began to develop, resident slots were added to the Board, which promoted more resident involvement.
The Project sought to address the issue of crime by organizing the community at the grassroots level and motivating them to take back their streets. The Project also sought to have better relations with and better responses from the police, the city, and state officials.
Several neighborhood associations were expanded and new ones were established. With the help of residents, the police were able to identify and shut down a notorious drug den in the area that served as headquarters for many dealers. In addition, businesses that had previously permitted drug dealing to occur on or near their property were encouraged to remedy the situation immediately. There has been a decrease in violent crimes and gunshots which are no longer a common occurrence. More importantly, residents say they feel safer than they have in years.
People were happy at their successes but realized there was a lot more to be done. In 1995, residents changed their primary focus from crime prevention to neighborhood revitalization. In 1995, the organization’s name was amended to the Four Corners Action Coalition to reflect this change. In 1999, the organization became known as the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition (GFCAC) so as to be more inclusive of the residents who live on the periphery of the target area.
The Community served by GFCAC goes from Park Street in the south to Columbia Road in the north; Glenway Street/Bernard Street in the west to Geneva Avenue in the east. There are approximately 4,000 households in in the community with a diverse population of over 13,000 — made up of Black/African American, Latino, Caribbean, Cape Verdeans, Asian, Mixed-race and White residents. According to the 2010 US Census over 26% of the population lives under the poverty line.
Today, in addition to neighborhood revitalization, the Coalition works on environmental justice, regional equity, public policies, and public safety, and youth issues.
The mission of the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition is to promote neighborhood stabilization in the Greater Four Corners community. GFCAC accomplishes this by addressing the issues of crime and safety, organizing residents, providing positive opportunities for youth, promoting economic development and collaborating with others. GFCAC organizes residents through the help of several Greater Four Corners Neighborhood Associations and provides positive opportunities for youth, promotes economic development and collaborates with other local and regional organizations. Their long range goal is to provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for residents, merchants, and other stakeholders in the Greater Four Corners area. GFCAC sees itself as a community organizer, service provider, and collaborator/supporter of other organizations’ efforts.
Greater Four Corners Action Coalition (GFCAC) holds that community and social change efforts should be shaped and driven by the leadership and decision making of community members who are experiencing those conditions, and whose families or communities would benefit from the efforts. While many organizations claim to take this approach, it is far easier said than done, and power dynamics can often obscure the true nature of community involvement in “partnerships”.
GFCAC promotes “community-centered organizing,” providing the community with opportunities to develop their own agendas and to voice their own leadership and control of decisions made for the neighborhood. Their approach incorporates grassroots community change making that has evolved over the last few decades.
At its core, GFCAC is committed to equity and justice. This means a recognition that differences between groups in society cannot simply be attributed to behavior or choices, but are rooted in historical injustices. These injustices have resulted in social, economic and political inequalities that continue today. GFCAC understands that the organization’s work cannot be effective if it ignores the ways that injustices underlie the problems faced by the communities in Greater Four Corners and across the greater Boston. GFCAC tries to examine the current context and their own work through the lenses of gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, religious affiliation, country of origin and membership in other social categories that experience unjust treatment. Their community-centered organizing is an important part of their community change strategy because disadvantaged communities need support to build the power to challenge prevailing patterns of power and privilege.
Addressing the root causes of issues that organized low-income communities often seek to address requires an accurate understanding of the historical drivers of structural race and class dynamics in the region, and important socio-economic or cultural shifts that are currently occurring. Such a robust understanding can only be achieved by developing meaningful relationships within the community to listen deeply. To build these relationships GFCAC has, over the years, learned the history, acknowledged inherent power dynamics even between community members, and has placed community members at the center of strategy development and decision making. GFCAC strives to listen to the community and takes direction from them, rather than imposing their own agenda or point of view.
The Greater Four Corners Action Coalition is working to make the Greater Four Corners community the best in Boston. GFCAC envisions a community that embraces regional equity, environmentally friendly development, a safe and nourishing environment for youth and other residents, economic opportunities, particularly for women and people of color and a race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnic neutral societal neighborhood.
2010-2015 STRATEGIC PLAN ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Goal I. Be a Sustainable and vibrant Community with a United Vision and Identity
- Four Corners is now identified on City maps
- Four Corners/Geneva Avenue stop on the Fairmount/Indigo line has been built and is operational
- Conscious community efforts to celebrate accomplishments, i.e. the annual Four Corners Day Celebration.
- Completed 2nd Comprehensive Community Development Plan and have started implementation phase.
Goal II. Be a model healthy and green community for the greater four corners neighborhoods.
- Held green perspectives ii forum. Over 60 people in attendance.
- Conducted series of film screenings for neighborhood and youth groups on saving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.
- Became co-sponsor and major contributor to the annual Boston Greenfest.
- Along with other members of the Fairmount Greenway Task Force, developed plan for Greenway along corridor. Implementation is in process, including the development of the Urban Wild on Washington Street.
- Assisted in the establishment of two new community gardens and an urban farm.
Goal III. Be a communication hub and connect people and organizations in Greater Four Corners.
- Created new website.
- Created a distributed new bi-monthly e-newsletter.
- Created new database system.
- Revived and staffed the Neighborhood Association Network.
- Four Corners became second community, after Uphams Corners, to become a Fairmount Corridor Art & Culture site.