An Outreach and Education Program for Local Governments and Community Organizations Empowering Citizens to Improve the Livability of Their Block

“Through the Livable Neighborhood Program neighbors take specific actions to make their blocks better places to live. Our City is re-inventing itself through our Neighborhood Transformation Initiative and this program fits perfectly. The Livable Neighborhood Program empowers citizens to improve their blocks and increase the quality of life for each neighbor. Simply said: the Livable Neighborhood Program is a winner.”
– John Street, Mayor, City of Philadelphia

Empowerment Institute’s Livable Neighborhood Program enables a block to become safer, healthier, quieter, friendlier, greener, and more economical place to live. It also serves as a delivery platform for integrating the programs of local government, community groups and neighborhood organizations.


Much has been written about the block as the organizing principle in community development. This is where concerns about quality of life are tangible and a sense of pride is easily established. As a consequence, neighborhood initiatives designed to work at the block level have great potential to capture people’s imagination and sustain participation. Block level initiatives are also attractive because they awaken a sense of community.

The Livable Neighborhood Program is designed to coalesce these different strands into an effective empowerment tool to assist local government and nonprofits in delivering services and improving the overall livability of the block. The program concept is simple and builds directly on Empowerment Institute’s two decades of experience in designing and delivering citizen and neighborhood empowerment programs for municipalities throughout the United States.

This program uses the mysterious power of numbers. If you think about it, community social problems are caused by a lot of little causes. These causes add up to big effects that are too large for us to manage alone. When we work together, however, things change. The greater our cooperation, the greater the impact of our efforts. This is a formula for taking the leverage away from problems and giving it to people, one block at a time.

While the Livable Neighborhood Program will help communities fix what’s broken at the grassroots level, more than that it will help neighbors create their neighborhood into the kind of place they’d like it to be.

Too often, neighborhoods wait for the appropriate government agency to show up and fix what ails them. Meanwhile, government is being stressed because we the people demand that more be done with less. The backbone of the Livable Neighborhood Program is a detailed menu of actions that everyone can take in any neighborhood setting — urban, suburban or rural. Its purpose is to help citizens take the steps they can on their own while at the same time interacting with local government as efficiently as possible.

The driver of the program is Empowerment Institute’s state-of-the-art knowledge of what it takes to motivate small group action. This proven format incorporates a structured behavior change and community organizing methodology with effective leadership development. It’s easy to implement. It’s enjoyable to take part in. Blocks that follow the simple instructions will become: safer, healthier, quieter, friendlier, greener, and more economical places to live.


The program is divided into four topic areas: health and safety, beautification and greening, resource sharing and community-building.

  • Neighbors form a team and meet five times, approximately every two weeks taking actions to improve the livability of their block. Some actions will be done in this timeframe, others will extend into the future.
  • In each topic area, the team chooses the actions it wishes to pursue, divides up responsibilities, creates a plan and takes action.
  • Each topic area has an assessment to gauge the livability of that aspect of the block and carefully crafted actions to maximize the team’s effectiveness.
  • The program includes an easy-to-use meeting format and planning guide for taking actions.

Look inside the book

Table of Contents
Action 1
Health and Safety Assessment


Empowerment Institute’s Social Change 2.0 community organizing leadership certification with a focus on implementation of the Livable Neighborhood Program. You will learn how to facilitate an empowerment training, provide empowerment coaching, and use the Social Change 2.0 framework, strategies, and skills to architect a transformational community intervention. You will also receive the Livable Neighborhood Program training scripts, organizing templates, and guidance on how to customize the campaign to the unique needs of your community and project.


Livable Neighborhood
Making Life Better on the Street Where You Live

by David Gershon.

The workbook contains thirty-five block level actions and livability assessments for each of four topics: health and safety, beautification and greening, resource sharing and neighborhood building.


To learn more about the Social Change 2.0 framework and research underpinning the Livable Neighborhood Program see Social Change 2.0. 


“I have been personally struck by the remarkable effectiveness of the Livable Neighborhood Program’s ability to engage neighbors and empower them to take and sustain action on a block level. Through our work with this program, I have become absolutely convinced that it’s state-of-the-art ‘social technology’ has immense potential here in Philadelphia and across the country to transform individual behavior and neighborhoods.”
—Christopher Patusky, deputy director Fels School of Government, University of Pennsylvania