Now in its fifth year, the Community Vision (Community Vision) is pleased to host the return of the Fresno Community Facilities Challenge at Fresno State University (FSU) on April 27, 2016. This unique event brings together student teams from FSU’s Lyles College of Engineering, Craig School of Business, and the Department of Art and Design to tackle real-world nonprofit facility challenges in their own community. This year, teams are working with community centers located on Fresno city parks that provide a wide range of resources to the city’s most vulnerable residents.
The park facilities include the Fink White Community Center, the Frank H. Ball Community Center, Sal Mosqueda Community Center, and the Ted C. Willis Community Center which collectively serve thousands of area youth, seniors, and families each year. These facilities house organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, Head Start, and even a charter school. The facilities also address unmet community need by providing hot meals for seniors, vocational resources for job seekers, health and wellness programs, and much more. In low-income communities, parks are much more than an open space for people to come together.
“The objective of the Fresno Community Facilities Challenge goes beyond helping nonprofits with their facility issues,” explained Alice Rocha, Community Vision Fresno Business Development Loan Officer. “The goal is to connect these students to real life projects in their community and foster a passion for community development work right here.”
Fresno’s park system is rated among the worst in the country, according to the Trust for Public Land’s annual ranking. “We want our students to recognize that the local economic challenges are an opportunity for them to use their education and training to create change right here in the Fresno area,” said Lloyd Crask, FSU Construction Professor. “This partnership with Community Vision is key in helping us facilitate that.”
Each team of students works with one community center to design a feasibility analysis, which includes financial analysis, property valuation, initial design concept, engineering review, construction schedule, and other relevant components. The teams then present their proposals before an esteemed group of judges representing local government, community development, and industry. Each team also receives valuable feedback about their proposal and is ranked based on their presentation and proposal. The winner is announced at a special reception later that evening where students have the opportunity to network with the judges and other notable community development experts in attendance.
“This event inspires us as much as it does the participating students,” said Joanne Lee, Community Vision Director of Consulting. “Each year, we learn more about Fresno’s unique challenges through the eyes of young people seeking to make a difference in their communities. It is a true pleasure.”
The idea to focus this year’s challenge on community park facilities was derived from the City of Fresno’s efforts to adopt the 2035 General Plan Update and the city’s commitment to incorporate a Park Plan for the first time since 1989. “Fresno’s population is expected to approach one million by 2035,” explained Jennifer Clark, Director of Fresno Development and Resource Management. “Adequate park and recreation facilities improve the community’s quality of life by providing space that meets the needs of existing residents, businesses, community members, and development partners as we prepare for this population increase.” Working with the City of Fresno and FSU, Community Vision hopes to use this innovative program to inspire this effort.