Company Directors Volunteer with Neighborhoods Rising Fund
H&R Block is partnering with Neighborhoods Rising Fund for the second year to provide critical funding to help underserved neighborhood associations throughout the seven-county Greater Kansas City area. In addition to providing financial support, this year H&R Block leaders volunteered as community reviewers – helping select the 44 community projects that received funding – and also took a deep dive and explored the complexities of community development with neighborhood visits.
The Neighborhoods Rising Fund (NRF) is a unique funding collaborative that annually provides grants for community-driven and neighborhood-led revitalization projects and initiatives in low- to moderate-income areas throughout the Greater Kansas City region. The fund was created with the simple goal of seeding dreams and aspirations and building capacity in Kansas City neighborhoods. By supporting small neighborhood-led initiatives that demonstrate the ability to have a lasting impact, the NRF has brought together hundreds of residents and helped to build their collective capacity to live more productive, healthy, and interconnected lives.
NRF is one of H&R Block’s key Make Every Block Better community partners, and this year we deepened our partnership by introducing company leaders in our Pivot program to NRF’s work. Pivot is an 12-month program for a small group of nominated directors focused on executive-level leadership learning, strategic planning, and advancing Block Horizons 2025 — H&R Block’s transformation strategy.
“Multi-year grants allow neighborhoods to dream bigger and take on larger, long-ranging projects,” said Phyllis Hardwick, Executive Director of the Neighborhoods Rising Fund. “H&R Block’s support not only doubled the Neighborhood Rising Fund, but now we’re able to provide those critical two-years grants for the first time and expand our reach to the entire seven-county, Kansas City metro area.”
Each year, NRF receives up to 100 applications from groups seeking support for community-led neighborhood preservation and development projects. NRF relies on the support of community reviewers to provide a fair and equitable setting for the application review process. For many supported by NRF, this is the only capital they can access. These small projects can help to address systemic issues of inequality, while empowering residents through capacity-building efforts supported by NRF, its partners, and the neighborhoods leading these unique projects.
“I was surprised by the variety of ideas coming from and issues impacting neighborhoods across our city,” said Shannon Glass, H&R Block Director of People and Culture. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with NRF and I am inspired by the passion and commitment that neighborhood leaders have for their communities.”
In May, NRF announced 44 projects, from a digital inclusion program to a trash tracker, that were selected through the community reviewer process. More than $208,997 in grants will be distributed across the region this year. Recently, Pivot participants got a chance to see firsthand some of these neighborhood projects become a reality. Throughout the three-part visit, H&R Block directors were able to talk with neighborhood leaders and to learn about the challenges and opportunities they face. The communities visited and topics explored included:
- Turtle Hill – Kansas City, Kansas
Why invest in placemaking in Kansas City neighborhoods?
- Westside – Kansas City, Missouri
Can you preserve a neighborhood’s culture while the neighborhood is undergoing development?
- Washington Wheatley – Kansas City, Missouri
Why is neighborhood voice critical to community development efforts?
“The Pivot team members were a complete joy,” said Hardwick. “After making very thoughtful recommendations as community reviewers, they strapped on some sneakers and got to see our neighborhood leaders and their projects in action.”
NRF’s community-led approach is making an impact across the Kansas City region and H&R Block is proud to help play a part.
“I learned that a very small grant can benefit a community in profound ways,” said Glass. “That really speaks to our Purpose to inspire and provide help to our clients and communities everywhere.”
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