To accomplish these goals, the Institute conducts empirical research, performs policy analyses, develops and evaluates programs, and provides technical assistance and community education. We work at all levels from neighborhood to global, because a comparative perspective offers new insights in understanding grassroots phenomena in neighborhoods and developing effective responses in public policy and community development practice.
Our mission is to generate, share, and apply the knowledge needed to strengthen ties between families and communities. We believe that help is most acceptable, efficient, and effective when it is built into everyday life. We are particularly interested in the everyday experiences of children, youth, and adults in neighborhood institutions, such as schools, workplaces, religious organizations, civic groups, and courts. We seek to provide the knowledge necessary to enable these institutions to ensure respect for individual dignity, enhance "natural" social assistance, build a sense of community, promote civic participation, and foster family and neighborhood responsibility. We also strive to understand ways that public policy supports or hinders families and neighborhoods in these tasks and to offer alternatives that foster the creation of neighborly ("family friendly") communities.
The Institute's work is focused on three themes. We conduct research and provide public service related to these broad topics:
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