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To expand the SC2 model to include technical assistance by subject matter experts on a wide variety of cross-cutting issues, the SC2 Council established the SC2 National Resource Network (SC2 NRN) with a $10 million investment of technical assistance funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A consortium of private sector, non-profit, and academic experts, led by Public Financial Management, Enterprise Community Partners, HR&A Advisors, New York University, and ICMA, run the SC2 NRN, with coordination from the SC2 Council, providing:

  • On-the-ground technical assistance via a simple rolling application
  • Remote technical assistance, or "311 for Cities"
  • Peer-to-peer networking opportunities for city leaders
  • A one-stop interagency federal technical assistance clearinghouse and curated resource library
  • Research and policy analysis and on issues of particular concern for distressed cities

On-the-Ground, Direct Technical Assistance

Since launching in 2014, the SC2 NRN has worked directly with 40 cities across the nation in hands-on, on-the-ground engagements, and will work with another 10 cities under its current funding agreement. In its direct technical assistance engagements, the SC2 NRN helps cities identify their barriers to recovery, strengthens local leadership and capacity, and facilitates collaboration and partnership. Because the SC2 NRN brings together experts in all areas of local government and economic development, they can offer cross-cutting solutions and strategies in most areas that affect economic competitiveness and operational capacity.

While each direct assistance engagement differs by subject matter, one common aspect of the work is the way that the SC2 NRN helps local officials put their challenges and opportunities into context. Most local government leaders don’t have the luxury in time or funding to learn about best practices from other jurisdictions, and while there is not a best practice for every challenge facing a city, there are lessons that can be learned from other cities. Providing the cities this information about and easy access to their peers is a key value-add for the SC2 NRN, but just providing access to data or best practices is usually not enough for economically challenged cities with low capacity governments. These cities need more than access to best practices and resources—they need a coach.

Remote Technical Assistance: 311 for Cities

The SC2 National Resource Network’s 311 for Cities service lets local officials request and receive assistance on a wide range of questions—in the form of a 2-3 page memo and a phone call to walk through next steps. Just as city residents can call their local 311 line with any question, nearly any topic is fair game for 311 for Cities—examples include best practices for attracting and retaining a diverse cadre of sworn police officers and how to deal with IRS liens on vacant historic property.

More than 300 cities are eligible to use 311 for Cities (listed here), which is accessed by creating an account on the site. The SC2 NRN's resource library contains a record of questions and answers so far.

Peer-to-Peer Networking

Peer learning is a key component of the SC2 NRN's approach to working with cities. Local leaders tackling similar challenges have a lot to learn from each other; to help facilitate exchanges between communities. The SC2 NRN's peer networking strategy includes a variety of offerings and is guided by a Peer Steering Committee comprised of representatives from Flint, MI; Kansas City, KS; Meridian, MS; Miami, FL; and Youngstown, OH.

Large-Scale Peer Convenings

Since 2014, the SC2 NRN has held an annual, in-person event. At these meetings, local officials and outside partners take time to come together to highlight priorities and successes in their communities, discuss common challenges, and develop new strategies together to make even more progress in areas such as economic development, workforce development, neighborhood revitalization, and civic engagement. Gatherings have been held in Chattanooga, TN and Miami, FL, and an event for December 2016 is on the horizon. Read more about the first gathering here and here, or watch this video to see what participants had to say about the inaugural convening in Chattanooga.

Broadband Working Group

The SC2 NRN's Broadband Working Group is comprised of six cities: Chattanooga, TN; Gonzales, CA; Greensboro, NC; New Orleans, LA; Springfield, MO; and Youngstown, OH. Together with the SC2 NRN staff and with subject matter expert support from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), this group is creating a practical resource guide for local governments around the country interested in improving broadband access and digital literacy in their communities. Through this work, the participating cities are also able to connect with and learn from each other.

Municipal Health Data for American Cities Initiative

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SC2 NRN partner organization NYU is developing the first-ever dashboard for essential health data for four U.S. cities: Flint, MI; Kansas City, MO; Providence, RI; and Waco, TX. The initiative frames federal and county data at the municipal level, extracts key benchmarks embedded in existing city-level data, and creates entirely new indicators through big data and social media activity. City leaders, federal data providers, data experts at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, and other experts in urban health metrics provide input for the development of these health measures. The cities also comprise the SC2 NRN's Peer Health Group, which informs the process and ensures that the metrics selected for inclusion in the dashboard are useful, innovative, and actionable for city leaders.

A Local Resource Network to Harness Local Capacity: The Greater New Orleans Talent Partnership

The Greater New Orleans Talent Partnership grew out of an 18-month effort led by SC2 NRN partner organization Civic Consulting USA to develop a local resource network of professionals from all sectors to work on critical city issues. Participants from 18 private-sector companies as well as Tulane University, Louisiana State University, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation worked to identify key issues related to Internet access, blight, analytics, business and entrepreneur outreach, and emergency management. The initial pilot phase demonstrated the existence of both the demand for skills-based volunteering in departments across the city and keen interest from organizations and their employees to work on projects that have a local impact. Looking forward, the Greater New Orleans Talent Partnership will expand its impact to other parishes in the region, establish a sustainable governance model led by a pro bono council, identify and scope specific projects, and secure funding.

Interagency Technical Assistance Clearinghouse and Resource Library

The SC2 National Resource Network's website is the entry point for accessing the Network's broad range of resources and opportunities to engage. In addition to the Request for Assistance and 311 for Cities portals, visitors will find an interagency technical assistance clearinghouse and a well-curated resource library.

Research and Policy Analysis

Recent NRN Reports:

You can find the one-stop resource platform and first-in-the-nation 311 for Cities service at www.nationalresourcenetwork.org/.