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Our Work in Community Change

The communities where children live can have a significant impact on where they go and what they do in life. Kids in high-poverty communities often experience harmful levels of stress from exposure to crime, frequent moves and lack of access to resources — good schools, medical care, safe outdoor spaces — essential to healthy development. They’re also more likely to drop out of school and struggle financially as adults. Here’s how we are improving the places where they live:

Building supportive communities that offer children and adults a range of educational and economic opportunities

High-quality early child care and education are key to healthy development but out of reach for too many kids.

Low-income parents and other adult residents need convenient, ready access to training, education, financial counseling and other services that can help them get jobs to support their families and achieve financial stability.

For many families, housing costs take a significant chunk out of an already meager paycheck, and being forced to move again and again is a reality. Their communities need more housing options that remain affordable for the long term.

Developing local, state and national partnerships to promote policy reform and community change on a broader scale

Changes and innovative approaches to policies and practices in areas such as housing, economic and community development and financing can help revitalize disinvested communities.

Universities, hospitals and other anchor institutions rooted in urban areas can help fuel the local economy by supplying jobs for residents and supporting development in surrounding disinvested neighborhoods.

Documenting best practices in community development

The success of children and their parents is intertwined. Programs promoting kids’ health and educational needs must go hand in hand with services for their parents and caregivers, such as job training and financial coaching.

Transforming a neighborhood may involve rehabbing or building new housing on a scale that disrupts a community to ultimately establish safety and stability. Such projects should put people first, lessen the impact of relocation on residents and create a mixed-income community with affordable homes.

Resident involvement and leadership can mean the difference between short-lived and lasting change in a community. They should be actively involved in shaping their neighborhood’s future.

Current Strategies


Public systems, schools and communities guiding public investment toward evidence-based programs that improve the growth and development of children and young people.

Baltimore Civic Site

Building and investing in public, private and community partnerships to improve education, job opportunities, health and neighborhoods for Baltimore City’s kids and families.

Atlanta Civic Site

Building public, private and community partnerships to improve education, job opportunities, health and neighborhoods for Atlanta kids and families in low-income communities.

Family-Centered Community Change

A community development strategy promoting healthy development and academic success for kids alongside adult services focused on parenting and financial stability.

Related Past Initiatives

Making Connections

Making Connections was Casey’s most significant long-term, multisite effort to demonstrate that poor results can be changed for the better for kids and families in tough neighborhoods. The initiative's core belief that kids do well when their families do well and families do better when they live in supportive communities continues to guide our current two-generation approach.

Responsible Fatherhood and Marriage

Central to Casey's community change approach is the commitment to nurture and sustain strong families, which includes engaged and contributing fathers. Investments to promote responsible fatherhood focused on providing public education, building support networks and conducting research to improve parent involvement.

Rebuilding Communities Initiative

Launched in 1994, this seven-year community-change initiative developed residents who could lead local organizations and build partnerships with funders and other community groups. Many of the lessons and relationships forged during this time paved the way for the emergence of Making Connections.

Faith-Based Initiatives

Faith communities play a trusted role in the social fabric of communities and are a particularly powerful resource for supporting the needs of kids and families. As part of Making Connections, investments advanced the efforts of faith-based organizations primarily focusing on prisoner reentry and children with incarcerated parents.

New Futures

Our first large, community-based project, New Futures was launched in 1988 to test the idea that strong political leadership, interagency collaboration and other innovations could reduce teen pregnancy and school dropout rates and improve school achievement and youth employment rates over a five-year period. What we learned has informed nearly every initiative that has followed.

Plain Talk

Launched in 1993, Plain Talk demonstrated that preventing teen pregnancy requires community-based strategies that mobilize adults who can provide teens with clear and credible messages about sex, the risks of pregnancy and other health issues. Plain Talk's materials and messages have been widely replicated.

Related Resources

Providing Internet Access to Communities of Color in Baltimore

In Elev8’s hometown of Baltimore, a disproportionate share of these families live in Black communities and include young people participating in remote learning and programming. To bridge this digital divide, the nonprofit has taken matters into its own hands.

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