NeighborWorks America (NWA) began with one committed individual fighting poverty and neighborhood decay back in the late 1960s. Today, NWA is a congressionally-chartered, $250 million nonprofit organization. It comprises an extensive nationwide network of over 245 affiliate organizations committed to revitalizing communities from the ground up. NWA is also the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.
NWA engaged CiTTA in an ambitious project, the second phase of the Sustainable Homeownership Project. CiTTA supported 25 affiliate organizations in designing, piloting, and refining social enterprise business models for their homeownership service lines. The goal was to enable and empower these 25 organizations to go from nonprofit to social enterprise, becoming financially self-sufficient through the development of earned income revenue streams.
Given the vast reach of its network organizations, NWA faced some steep challenges in finding business models that would work across a variety of diverse communities and economic climates. CiTTA was able to meet this challenge rapidly due to our agile, data-driven methodology, disciplined process-oriented approach, and inclusive facilitation skills, informed by our core values of mindfulness, respect, and diversity.
Though the affiliate organizations ranged in size, capitalization, and services provided, CiTTA applied mixed-methods research grounded in active listening. This meant facilitating productive conversations on strategy via phone, in-person, in small groups and importantly, convening the whole pilot cohort when necessary.
CiTTA led four work streams in previously identified service expansion lines with three different working groups. CiTTA’s top priority was taking care to identify the common elements that would best serve the majority of the organizations – and to tailor unique aspects to different markets whenever necessary.
The CiTTA DIFFERENCE
CiTTA provided a nuanced and actionable strategic framework that could scale nationwide while retaining flexibility for local organizations to customize components of the plan in order to best suit specific community needs.
In addition to overall strategy, CiTTA delivered a number of practical business models and tools, including an extensive financial projection model the affiliates use to test and track progress over time and other market feasibility assessment tools. Furthermore, CiTTA helped guide C-Suite officers at the 25 organizations in understanding how to balance mission with profit to create win-win solutions.
The nonprofit to social enterprise models and business tools CiTTA developed are now the basis for the next phase of the program – an expansion of the pilot to include 40 affiliate organizations nationwide. CiTTA is proud to have worked with NWA in furthering opportunities in home ownership in underserved neighborhoods and in strengthening communities across the country.