Cenntennial Park CDC Talks to Parkside Residents

Christopher Scott of the Cenntennial Park CDC
Christopher Scott of the Cenntennial Park CDC

In the September 2015 issue of the Parkside Journal,

we introduced readers to Christopher Scott and his

new venture the Centennial Parkside CDC. Chris is a

resident of Parkside by way of his grandparents who

moved to the area in the late 1940’s. As a kid growing

up in North Carolina Chris would spend many

summers in Parkside with his grandparents. He

enjoyed those summer visits and bonded with the

community. Those feelings never left Chris, which

lead him to move here after his grandfather died. He

joined together with other long time community

residents and business owners and supporters from

neighborhood cultural centers to create his new CDC.

Recently Christopher Scott found the time to sit down

and discuss what progress Centennial Parkside has

accomplished over the last eight months.

PJ: Chris what have you and the Centennial CDC

been up to since our last story in September of 2015?

Scott: We have continued to stay busy with the many

organizational setup matters that, while not

glamorous, we needed to push through in order to start

providing resources to revitalize Parkside.

Principally, I am happy to report that since we last

spoke, the Centennial Parkside CDC received notice

that we are recognized as a tax-exempt organization

under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

This is a critically important achievement, since

foundations and other philanthropic sources can only

provide grants to organizations that have this

designation. Centennial Parkside CDC is officially

open for business!

PJ: Have you and your team developed a strategic


Scott: We recently completed our 5-year strategic plan

with the assistance of a nationally known consultant,

American Communities Trust (ACT). We spent six

months in Board of Trustees training and strategic

plan development sessions with ACT.

The plan carries 5 core priorities for the CDC’s


1) Housing and homeownership

2) Marketing and branding

3) Sanitation and greening

4) Commercial Development

5) CDC organizational sustainability

This plan is our roadmap for the next 5 years. We will

post the plan in its entirety on our website when the

website is live. In the interim, if you want a copy

please contact me and I will ensure you get a detailed

version of the strategic plan.

PJ: When do you expect to have your website up

and running?

Scott: We are actively working on establishing a

website and we expect to have one publicly

available in the coming weeks. We expect the

website to be a central resource for the community,

so we are investing time to ensure we have a great

website that does just that. Stay tuned and look out

for a website announcement by the next edition of

the Parkside Journal.

PJ: If Parkside residents want to reach out to you

how do they contact you?

Scott: You can reach me by email at:

CLS2X@yahoo.com or by phone: 917.254.2361.

The CDC also holds monthly meetings and we

encourage resident participation as we move

forward. Please contact me to learn more.

PJ: Is there a physical address to the Parkside


Scott: We have made significant progress on identifying

and securing financing for the physical headquarters

of the CDC. One of our key requirements in a

physical office space is that the space be accessible

to everyone in the community as a place to gather,

learn and play together. We are excited about moving to our own physical office space before the end of 2016 and we expect to

have an announcement on the physical address of

where that will be by the next edition of the Parkside


PJ : I know one of your early goals was to develop an

“Energy Improvement District” where you would

supply electrical energy to area residents from

renewable sources. Can you elaborate on this and has

there been any movement in that direction?

Scott: An Energy Improvement District

is certainly one solution we are exploring

as means to create wealth and opportunity

for Parkside residents. Low-income

communities are disproportionately

impacted by land use strategies that

negatively impact health. Fundamentally,

an Energy Investment District enables

communities – particularly communities

of color – to develop local renewable

energy generation and energy efficiency

programs that are accountable to the

community and produce healthier

neighborhoods, reduce energy costs,

create good jobs, and build the wealth for

those most in need.

PJ: And what kind of movement have

you had in that direction; is there anyone

out there listening?

Scott: I can say we have had some

success in building the case for an Energy

Improvement District in Parkside.

Leaders from across the city are taking

notice that we have an innovative solution

to transforming the structural inequities

borne by low-income communities like

ours. As an example of the notice we are

receiving, the CDC has been invited to

speak about the Energy Improvement

District solution at the Arts & Business

Council of Greater Philadelphia on June

9th. This is a conference that is hosted by

the largest Foundations in the city and

expected to attract 200 – 300 executives

and staff from across the nonprofit,

philanthropic and private sectors. This is

the type of platform that will help the

CDC continue to build momentum around

implementing this solution in Parkside.

PJ: Where do you get your funding?

Who are your Partners?

Scott: The CDC just completed its

strategic plan in April and we have been

using that plan as the basis to introduce

the CDC and its proposed activities to

potential funders, including the region’s

largest foundations. We are really pleased

by the level of interest the Foundation

community has in supporting our CDC

and we expect to cement those funding

relationships in the coming months.

This neighborhood is a focus area for the

philanthropic community, given the

Promise Zone and other assets we have

around us. Our job as a CDC is to harness

that interest and steer those investments

to the benefit of our residents. We are

working hard every day to ensure that


PJ:  What do you feel you’ve

accomplished over the past year?

Scott:  This has been a truly exceptional

year of growth and achievement for the

CDC. We started from nothing but a

concept exactly one year ago this month.

Yet, since that time we have:

1) Formally incorporated

2) Received 501(c)(3) designation

3) Raised over $20,000 in direct


4) Advocated for the installation of bike

share stations in Parkside

5) Established new partnerships with our

cultural institution partners

And importantly

6) We have a direct working relationship

with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell,

who is supporting our efforts as we move


I’m proud to lead an energetic Board of

Trustees that is deeply committed to

providing an improved quality of life for

the residents of Parkside.

PJ:  Our thanks to Mr. Scott for sitting

with us.


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