Community Economic Development Dissertations

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The mission of the Community Economic Development program is to build better practices and policies that serve low-income and marginalized communities around the globe. Community economic development gives people control over their economic futures by developing leadership in the poorest communities and eliminating the apathy that can result from generations of poverty and neglect.

The dissertation collection is focused on original research and skills to shape policy at local, regional, national or international levels. Students specialized in one concentration in Community Economic Development (theory, policy, or management).


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 13
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    Key determinants in building financial capability among middle schoolers with a school-based financial literacy education program
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2012-09) Bolanos, Antoinette B.; Rivera, Jolan; Fenton, Marilyn; Paddack, Megan
    Rising in importance at various life stages, financial literacy and welfare-enhancing financial behaviors are crucial life-skills for youth to develop in their early teens. Financial capabilities could be built in schools to keep pace with today’s fast-changing and complex financial marketplace. Their financial decisions will influence their future economic well-being. This study examined the relative effectiveness of variations of a co-curricular financial literacy education program offered to eight graders of a Middle School in New England. Mixed methods were utilized first, to determine differences in program effects at improving the students’ financial literacy and changing their financial attitudes and behaviors; and second, to uncover the determinants of the outcomes in building the students’ financial capability. There were differences found in degrees of improvements in financial knowledge and financial attitudes between each one and another variant of the program. Intervening variables, including influences of the family and peers, having a job and access to money, were also found to affect the financial outcomes. (Author abstract)
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    Getting efficient as a means to create change: How the Community Impact Framework by Heritage United Way creates efficiencies in local organizations
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2010-06-15) Nemon, Melissa L.; Rivera, Jolan; Hotchkiss, Charles; Freiberger, James J.
    Social service organizations are critical players and partners in community dynamics. However, until recently their effect on the community was mostly assumed. In an effort to determine how social service organizations impact the community, United Ways have begun implementing an outcomes-measurement framework and using it to determine funding. Known as Community Impact, this methodology includes a logic model design that intends for partner agencies to clearly identify outcomes their programs intend to affect in the greater community. While this paradigm shift is affecting system wide community structures, what has not been clear to this point is the effect community impact – and more specifically, the outcomes measurement training – has had on local agencies and their organizational structure and behavior. This study examined the partner agencies of Heritage United Way. A survey was conducted to determine the highest adopters of Community Impact and then an organizational assessment was done on eight of the highest adopters, as well as two local municipal government departments that also adopted Community Impact – to determine if any efficiencies had been gained since adopting the paradigm. Results determined that small agencies tended to adopt Community Impact more readily than other agency typologies. Additionally, organizational assessment results demonstrate that large agencies regardless of affiliation perceived the highest rate of efficiency in sustainability while small agencies perceived efficiency in mission, vision, values; small nationally affiliated agencies perceived efficiency in structure; and small government departments perceived efficiency in partnerships. The organizational survey instrument adapted and implemented for this study could prove to be a useful tool for future analysis of organizations and the efficiencies experienced when adopting new frameworks. (Author Abstract)
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    How organizations promote a sense of community and empowerment leading towards community participation: A view of the middle
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2012-05) Fernando, Rukshan; Rivera, Jolan
    Community Development Corporations (CDC) are organizations which develop affordable housing, jobs and small businesses in communities. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which staff and board of CDCs in Indianapolis, Indiana participated in the community because of a sense of community and empowerment within and outside a CDC. Much of the literature examined participation from the community member perspective. As such, the importance of this study was to understand the gap in the research literature surrounding community development professionals and their community participation. Little research has been conducted on the participation by organizational members in CDCs. Understanding the empowering processes within and outside a community organization might help to predict the participation of these organizational members. In addition to empowerment, the organizational sense of community that CDCs facilitated for their members can help predict participation of members. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between intra and extraorganizational empowering processes, sense of community and the citizen participation from the perspective of organizational members of CDCs. A survey of 78 CDC staff and board of the Indianapolis Coalition for Neighborhood Development was conducted. Scales measured the relationship between a member’s CDCs participation in the community and the perceptions of intraorganizational and extraorganizational empowering processes. A correlational analysis was conducted to assess the community organization sense of community, the processes of empowering organization and citizen participation. Analysis was conducted to understand the extent to which community organization sense of community and/or processes of empowering organization helped to predict the participation in the sample. Results suggested an association between the CDC’s sense of community and citizen participation. In addition, the results suggested an association between the extraorganizational empowering process, as measured by a number of social capital and community investment activities, and participation. Moreover, extraorganizational empowerment processes were able to predict the levels of board and staff participation. Findings suggested that processes outside the CDC contribute significantly to the participation of CDC board and staff members. Further exploration of policy, practice, education and research concerning the implications of the study is suggested. (Author abstract)
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    Differences in foreclosure rates of owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied residential multi-family properties during depressed housing market conditions (2007-2008)
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2010) Dhliwayo, Lovemore Liberty; Catano, Francis N.; Leeder, Elaine; Basolo, Victoria
    This dissertation study examines whether owner-occupation (OO), in depressed housing markets, has significant impact on foreclosure rates of residential multi-family properties in Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire. The study is an extension on Wardrip & Pelletiere's 2008 research that covered four New England states: New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In this study Wardrip & Pelletiere found that residential multi-family properties have significantly higher foreclosure rates compared to single-family properties. This researcher adds value to Wardrip & Pelletiere's study by arguing that owner-occupation is a significant factor in foreclosures of residential real estate in general, and especially, in foreclosures of residential multi-family properties, in general. To examine the problem of increasing and higher foreclosure rates amongst residential multi-family properties, the study uses quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative component covers the entire population of residential 2- to 4-unit multifamily properties in Manchester and Nashua over the 2-year period from 2007 to 2008. The study compares the foreclosure rates of owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied residential multi-family properties in the two cities. For hypothesis testing Independent Samples t Test was used to measure differences in the maintenance and upkeep of randomly selected owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied multi-family properties in Manchester. Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping was used to lay out and analyze the spatial distribution of all residential multi-family properties, and the location of foreclosures within that distribution, in Manchester. Detailed interviews were conducted with key informants representing major multi-family stakeholder institutions in New Hampshire to gather their perceptions on owner-occupied and non-owneroccupied multi-family homeownership. The study found that there are significant differences between the foreclosure rates of owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied multi-family properties in Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire. To theoretically explain the differences in foreclosure rates of OO and NOO multi-family properties two theoretical frameworks were developed and applied, i.e., "Broken Windows" and "Meaning of Home". Broken Windows (BW) theory, attributed to two criminologists, James Wilson and George Kelling, says that if broken windows remain unrepaired, vandals will soon break the building's remaining windows and the windows of abutting properties and those of other properties in the neighborhood. This researcher uses "Broken Windows" as a metaphor for the hypothesized relative neglect in upkeep and maintenance of NOO multi-family properties. "Meaning of Home" theory is a construct developed from four concepts: "Home Use Value"; "Meaning of Home"; "Rental Value"; and "Investment Value" as applied to owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied multi-family homeownership, based on perceived and actual expectations, behaviors and the general psychology of multi-family homeowners. Homeowners are classified as owner-occupiers (OOs) and non-owner-occupiers (NOOs). The study argues that owner-occupiers are usually more financially and psychologically invested in the multi-family property and the neighborhood they live in. On the other hand, non-owner-occupying investors are hypothesized to be less socially and economically invested in the property and neighborhood, mainly because neither is their own home. The researcher argues that if rental income and investment value are not on a financially rewarding trajectory for the non-owner-occupying multi-family investor, there is no, or very little, incentive for him / her to continue holding on to the asset. The study found that, on average, owner-occupied multi-family properties are significantly better maintained, and have positive social and economic externalities for their neighborhoods, communities and local authorities. This is in keeping with the Meaning of Home theory as developed and advanced in this study. Non-owneroccupied multi-family properties were found to be significantly more in disrepair, to have significantly less curb appeal, and to have significantly greater risk of being foreclosed in depressed housing market conditions. Based on GIS mapping analyses of Manchester, New Hampshire, this study also found that owner-occupied and nonowner occupied multi-family buildings tend to cluster around each other or to be clustered in specific neighborhoods of the city. The study recommends that low-income to moderate-income multi-family homeownership policies be seriously considered in their varied formats, including but not limited to having exploratory and specific programs that support, promote and finance owner-occupation of residential multi-family properties. The study also raises a strong case for policy makers to promote policies that support mixed-income neighborhood development, and explore possibilities for the conversion of non-owneroccupied residential multi-family buildings to owner-occupied condominiums, housing co-operatives and land trusts. (Author abstract)
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    Microfinance as a tool for financial services reconstruction in post-conflict communities : a study of post-conflict microfinance in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2011) Matabisi, Lukumu Nicodeme; Rielly, Catherine; Ashe, Jeffrey; Hotchkiss, Charles; Clamp, Christina
    Since its inception in the 1970s, modern microfinance has emerged as a strategy to reduce vulnerability of the poor and promote microenterprise. This dissertation proposes that microfinance plays an additional role as a tool for reconstructing financial services in post-conflict communities. During major conflicts, the provision of financial services is usually disrupted; and financial institutions are often targets of lootings by militia or military of factions in conflicts; resulting in weak, insolvent, and non-operational financial services sectors when post-conflict reconstruction begins. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s financial services system was greatly disrupted by years of conflicts that ended in 2003. In the post-conflict DRC, the provision of financial services has shown some improvement, and an important share of this improvement can be attributed to microfinance. The central question becomes whether microfinance is an effective tool for post-conflict reconstruction of financial services. Using financial data from the DRC and surveys; this study, first, performed a trend analysis of outreach (employment, clientele, loans, savings/deposits) and financial performance (assets, profitability, efficiency, risk) of financial institutions using a microfinance approach; and second, compared the level of outreach and financial performance by financial institutions using a microfinance approach to those using a traditional financial approach; and third, compared the reconstruction level (business development, education, assets acquisition, and standard of living) of microfinance clients to the level of non-clients of financial institutions. This study found that, in post-conflict communities, microfinance - as a mode of financial services provision is active, agile, and is a better tool than traditional financial services in terms of outreach and some aspects of financial performance, at least in the early interim phases of reconstruction. When compared to non-clients, this study found that clients of microfinance institutions experienced greater business development, acquired more assets, saved more, and enjoyed a higher standard of living. All these reconstruction variables performed significant differences. The only non-significant difference between clients and non-clients was found in the area of education. Microfinance should therefore be considered as a tool for post-conflict reconstruction of financial services and be emphasized as an intervention in the early stages of reconstruction of financial services. (Author abstract)
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