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Neighborhood News

Volume I Issue 5  January/February 1998

East St. Louis Neighborhood Leaders Oppose Municipal Budget Proposal

Citizens Hold Press Conference Urging State Oversight Panel To Reject Esl Proposed Budget

Leaders of the East St. Louis Community Action Network (ESLCAN), a city-wide coalition of neighborhood organizations, urged the East St. Louis Financial Advisory Authority (FAA), the state oversight panel, to reject the City of East St. Louis' proposed 1998 budget because it failed to fund staff to enforce the city's municipal sanitation code. ESL CAN members and other neighborhood residents gathered an hour prior to the FAA meeting held at the SIUE East St. Louis Center at 12p.m. on Saturday, December 20, 1997 for a press conference.

Ms. Flossie Hunt of the Edgemont Neighborhood Association delivered a 5 minute presentation to the press which detailed

ESLCAN's demands for city officials to reinstate the sanitation code enforcement function (not individuals) in the budget, fund a Sanitation Department (Manager and Board of Commissioners) as the City ordinance requires, appoint professionals to these positions who meet the minimum qualifications for these positions as defined in the City's job descriptions, and present a detailed performance planning and evaluation system to ensure aggressive code enforcement.

ESLCAN leaders do not believe that "essential municipal services" can be guaranteed without ongoing support, for the implementation of the East St. Louis Sanitation Code. The elimination of funding for this vital municipal government

function will result in a decrease in property maintenance by absentee property owners and an increase in illegal dumping. This would undermine the great improvement made in the urban environment through the cooperation of local residents, municipal government, State, and Federal agencies.

More aggressive code enforcement is needed to eliminate the more than 800 properties found to be in substantial violation of the municipal sanitation code during a city-wide environmental survey (12 of 22 neighborhoods) conducted by ESLCAN, with the assistance of students and faculty from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Spring of 1996. ESLCAN has a long history of attempting to get the City Council and City Managers to address this problem.

"The City of East St. Louis is not providing essential services to its citizens and businesses if it does not enforce its sanitation code. In failing to provide funding for this activity, its budget does not meet the minimum requirement for FAA approval as stipulated in the Distressed Cities Act of 1991," says Flossie Hunt, an Edgemont resident and ESLCAN Board Member. "We will not have the progress that residents, the city and the state made toward improving the quality of the urban environment in East St. Louis reversed by petty politics," said James Jones, Director of ESLCAN.

NTAC Sponsors Grantwriting Seminar

28 people attend week-long workshop
The Grantsmanship Center (TGCI) is a leading source of fundraising training and information for the nonprofit sector. Since it was founded in 1972, TGCI has trained more than 65,000 agency staff in grantsmanship, program planning, and fundraising. During the week of December 8-12, 1997 twenty-eight non-profit and neighborhood leaders joined the ranks of the Grantshmanship Centers alumni. The Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center hosted this week-long training session as part of the NTAC's overall strategy to increase the capacity of non-profit organizations in East St. Louis.

During the week, participants moved step-by-step through all the stages of planning programs, locating funding sources, and writing grant proposals. They learned how to find grants from foundations, corporations and all levels of government. They also used the leading reference directories and learned how to find grant information on the Internet.

Participants worked with other participants in small groups, developing proposal elements, reviewing proposals, and developing a complete grant proposal, from start to finish. Each proposal writing project was a real one, and focused on the needs of the organizations attending the workshop. TGCI evaluations consistently report that approximately 50% of the proposals developed in their training sessions are submitted for funding. And of these, more than half have been funded.

As Alumni of the Grantsmanship Center training, the participants receive free technical assistance and review of proposals for a year by staff. The Grantsmanship Center Magazine, with a circulation of over 200,000, is also distributed free of charge to staff of nonprofit organizations and government agencies. The magazine publishes authoritative articles on nonprofit administration, resource development, and grant-related issues. It also contains listings of the Center's current publications and upcoming training events.

The Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center will continue to provide these types of training workshops for non-profits in East St. Louis. Some of the participants from the Grantsmanship Center workshop have continued to meet on a monthly basis to critique proposals and develop fundraising ideas. This type of follow-up to training provides another valuable opportunity for non-profits to network and build skills.

Olivette Park Neighborhood Association Makes Great Strides in 1997

The Olivette Park Neighborhood Association held its first meeting on April 7, 1995. Since that first meeting, OPNA has developed into a 50 member organization under the leadership of Ms. Mamie Bolden, President, which has made great strides in improving the community.

At the last monthly neighborhood general meeting on January 8, 1998, neighbors gathered and reviewed the accomplishments of the previous year. Both old and new members were energetic and got involved in specific projects and activities. The following is a summary of the activities that OPNA completed in 1997:

In order to be considered a non-profit, tax exempt and tax deductible organization, the neighborhood association needed to obtain 501(c)3 status. Many foundations and corporations will not donate money to a community group unless it has 501(c)3 status. Creating and adopting a set of by-laws was one of the first task that OPNA completed. The by-laws document the formal structure of the Olivette Park Neighborhood Association, duties of officers, elections and terms of office, structure of the committee system, and membership of its board. With the help of Ms. Diane Thompson of Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, the Olivette Park Neighborhood Association completed the process of filing for federal tax exemption.

OPNA also applied for its first grant from the Self Development of People in late November. OPNA developed a proposal to purchase a lawnmower for the neighborhood so that OPNA can help neighbors maintain lots and clean up vacant and abandoned lots. In January of 1998, OPNA received notice that they were awarded the grant.

OPNA was also able to hire 20 youth from the neighborhood and some surrounding neighborhoods in the first annual summer youth employment project sponsored by OPNA, the Edgemont Neighborhood Association and the East St. Louis Community Action Network. This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Urban Resource Partnership Program. OPNA will co-sponsor its second annual youth employment project again this summer, beginning in June of 1998.

In addition to OPNA's lot maintenance projects, the organization enlisted the help of attorney Kathleen O'Keefe of the Neighborhood Law Office. Ms. O'Keefe worked with the neighborhood to get property owners who do not maintain either vacant lots or derelict structures to either clean them up or tear them down. Olivette Park organized with the help of the Neighborhood Law Office and the East St. Louis Community Action Network a pilot project on Veronica place. This project resulted in a number of derelict structures being torn down and several lots were cleaned up by the city and private owners.

The neighborhood association has made a concerted effort to focus its energy and resources on providing safe and meaningful activities for neighborhood youth. For the third year in a row, OPNA hosted a neighborhood Halloween party for children at the Salvation Army. Over 200 children and parents attended the party and the neighborhood received several donations from area businesses and individuals. Ms. Minola Brown, OPNA's social chair, has done an incredible job of organizing this event every year and the neighborhood organization is deeply grateful for her commitment.

Too often, neighborhoods are unaware of development proposals and city policies that will impact their neighborhood until it is too late to give input. The Olivette Park Neighborhood Association has taken a proactive stance by being a part of activities at the neighborhood, city, and county level. OPNA officially became a member organization of the East St. Louis Community Action Network and has contributed a great deal of time and energy to the coalitions sanitation code enforcement campaign.

OPNA is also fortunate to have two of its members serving on the newly-formed East St. Louis Planning Commission. The planning commission will serve to help guide the city's development plans. The participation of Rocco Goins and Annette Coleman on the commission is a valuable asset to the neighborhood.

OPNA also attended the NTAC's Non-Profit Management training seminar. At this seminar, neighborhood leaders learned valuable skills for effective leadership and also had the chance to develop networks with other local organizations.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD) offers Illinois Non Profits Technical Assistance and Training

You may contact a TA provider directly for direct technical assistance or contact a HUD coordinator as follows:

HUD Community Planning and Development Department


HUD Coordinator- Kimberly Danna 312-353-1696 Extension 2724

Statewide Housing Action Coalition (SHAC)
Contact Person - Michael Burton Telephone Number: (312) 939-6074 Serving metropolitan areas outside the Chicago area

Housing Assistance Council (HAC)

Contact Person- Mary Stover Telephone Number:(202) 842-8600 Serving ruralareas


HUD Co-ordinator - Kathleen Heneghan 312-353-1696 Extension 2723

Center for Community Change Telephone Number: (202) 342-0567
Serving central and southern Illinois


Telephone Number: (312) 836-8568 Serving non-Participating Jurisdiction area


HUD Co-ordinator - Ray Canchola 312-353-1696 Extension 2714

Center for Supportive Housing
Telephone Number: (312) 697-6163
Illinois Community Action Association
Telephone Number: (217) 789-0125
Serving the entire state.

1998 Illinois HUD Training Workshops

No dates for these workshops have been set yet, but the NTAC will pass the information along as soon as it is available.

The Structure and Management of Loan Programs
2 days - (1998 dates to be announced)

Homeowership Programs
(1998 dates to be announced)

Single Family Housing Rehabilitation
5 Days - (1998 dates to be announced)

Multi-family Housing Rehabilitation
5 Days - (1998 dates to be announced)

Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center $500.00 Available to Non-Profits for Conference Registrations

The NTAC has set aside $500.00 to support the training efforts of local non-profits. If your nonprofit organization would like to send an individual to a local conference or training session but lacks funding, the NTAC can pay for part or all of your registration fees. To apply, simply submit a request for funds with the following information:

  1. Name of organization.
  2. Name of individual(s) planning to attend.
  3. Copy of conference brochure.
  4. Brief statement regarding the benefits of conference attendance.

Send this information to the address printed on your newsletter. Requests will be accepted through May of 1998.

Free Tax Preparation Service

The Center for Law and Human Services  will once again operate a Tax Counseling service to East St. Louis residents from late January through April 15th.  Volunteers will be available at the Small Business Development Center in the Federal Building.  This programs offers East St. Louis residents free, confidential tax preparation assistance to families with incomes under $26, 000.  Those who take advantage of this service will also have access to free electronic filing of federal returns and will receive information on the Earned Income Tax Credit which can be worth up to $3,656 to lower income families.

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Document author(s) : Patricia Nolan
Last modified: 12 January 98, Abhijeet Chavan