In the summer of 2002, Councilman Al Vann convened a diverse group of community and nonprofit leaders serving the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant to unite around the immediate economic, physical, social and human development needs of the community. The Councilman recognized the value in having such a group to serve as an informal, centralized communications vehicle and “think tank” regarding local community and economic development. As a result, the Bedford-Stuyvesant Economic and Physical Development Task Force that included approximately twenty-five community organizations was created. The Task Force met faithfully every six weeks and more frequently in committees. During its existence it became a valuable community communications network, successfully advocating on behalf of the community with respect to land-use issues, specific development projects and policies impacting Bedford Stuyvesant.
Additionally, the Task Force, actively working in concert with Community Board #3, became a place for public officials, developers, community groups and other entities involved with economic and physical development to come for advice, feedback and support. In partnership with the Community Board, the Task Force also acted as guardian of the values and goals expressed in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community’s 197(a) Plan.
In the fall of 2005, the Task Force, with a grant from the Independence Community Foundation, institutionalized itself as the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford-Stuyvesant (CIBS). Today CIBS represents a unique neighborhood coalition of nonprofit organizations dedicated to Bedford-Stuyvesant. Member organizations bring diverse experience and expertise to the community in such varied fields as real estate development, commercial revitalization, workforce development, human services, youth development, financial education, and foreclosure prevention. In aggregate, CIBS members represent a lifeline for much of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, serving thousands of individuals and families annually with critical support.
CIBS conducts programming through five Program Networks. Member organizations, with common service portfolios participate on one or more Networks that encompass: Financial Education and Asset-Building, Workforce Development, Business Vitality, Physical Development, and Human and Social Services. The objective of each Network, chaired by an Executive Director of member organizations, is to collaborate around shared service objectives and issues, planning, research, outreach, and grant development.