Improving the Quality of Life in a City of Phoenix, Arizona Neighborhood Through Collaborative Investment

  • John Burk
  • Richard C. Knopf
Part of the Community Quality-of Life Indicators book series (CQLI, volume 2)


In 2005, the FireStar Fund was established as a collaborative venture between the Valley of the Sun United Way, Stardust Foundation, United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, City of Phoenix Fire Department, City of Phoenix Mayor’s Office and other community partners. This fund committed $150,000 over the course of a two-year period to “improve the lives of people and communities in the Phoenix-metro region, who are in social and economic distress.” This fresh approach to community building utilized the volunteer resources of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association and their connections with other organizations and resources within the Phoenix metropolitan area to conduct revitalization efforts in a specific community. Destined to be a model for future FireStar Fund projects, the first year was dedicated to community building efforts within the City of Phoenix’s Maryvale Village. Utilizing past studies done in the neighborhood by other agencies and developing a set of “community health indicators,” Arizona State University’s Partnership for Community Development (PCD) worked collaboratively with neighborhood citizens and FireStar Fund partners to develop an investment action plan based on the citizens’ vision. First, the FireStar Fund partners developed a set of 18 indicator variables for defining neighborhood stability. Through interviews and focus groups, the PCD was able to document the neighborhood’s assets and the citizens’ collective vision for improving the quality of life in their community along each of these 18 indicators. Next, the FireStar Fund partners prioritized needed action not only in the context of this “organic” approach, but also in the context of insights available from the literature on community health. In this way, the residents and the FireStar Fund partners became the primary drivers of investment in their neighborhood but insights from the literature provided a structure for interpreting and organizing action. This process demonstrates the uniqueness of an approach to improve the quality of life in a neighborhood long-term that could well serve as a model for other communities.


Faith Community Assessment Component Neighborhood Stability Community Preventive Service Phoenix Metropolitan Area 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Burk
    • 1
  • Richard C. Knopf
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Public ProgramsArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Recreation and Tourism Management at Arizona State University

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