Starting and Strengthening a Block Club

Block Clubs Have a Role in Keeping Neighborhoods Safe

The City’s financial challenges have challenged neighborhood residents to find alternative ways to keep their neighborhoods safe.  A block club in your neighborhood is one such alternative. A block club is a group of neighborhoods from a block who get together occasionally to work toward improving the condition of their neighborhood.  Block clubs provide a way for neighbors to meet one another and work together on neighborhood issues.  This creates a friendlier atmosphere and decreases potential hostilities between neighbors on a block.  People who form block clubs are concerned and care about their communities.

What is a Block Club:  Traditional block clubs are groups of people who have homes and families on any given block in the city and have organized to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood.  People who form block clubs are concerned and care about their communities and share information, identify concerns and act collectively to address those concerns.

Benefits to Organizing a Block Club:

  • Knowing your neighbors and communicating on a regular basis can help you identify quality of life issues and other trends in your neighborhood and allow you to address these issues.
  • Taking collective action, sharing information and raising awareness a month your neighbors will also help improve safety in your block.
  • With just a little time and work from you and all your neighbors, you can make a bid impact on your community.

There are many ways that people organize themselves into block clubs – in addition to the traditional way.  The important part is organizing around issues that affect you and your neighbors in a way that works for you.

Leadership:  Unfortunately, block clubs do not start themselves or spontaneously spring from the good intentions of a few members of the community. To be successful a block club needs:

  • Leadership
  • Division of labor
  • A vision or plan
  • Organization
  • Communication

Boundaries:  Actual boundaries could be only half a block, one side of the block, both sides of the street facing each other, both sides facing an alley or a single apartment building. Once boundaries are defined, everyone within those boundaries should be contacted and invited to the first meeting.

Meetings should be centrally located in a neutral location (schools, church, community center or library).  The location should be approachable and in a welcome location.  It should not be too large for a small group or too small for a large group.  Limit the meeting to no more than 2 hours.

Do not use this meeting as an opportunity to invite a neighbor to a meeting and lecture about undesirable behavior!

Greet your neighbors at the door, introduce yourself.  Have attendees fill out a sign-in sheet with all contact information.  Start your meeting on time.  Introduce yourself and briefly discuss your reasons for wanting to start the block club.  You may want to invite someone from an established block club to discuss how they got started.  Keep the discussion focused on issues that concern your neighborhood.

Vote on the question of whether to form an organization. If it is voted to form an organization, elect officers and appoint temporary special committees.  Draft a plan with a vision and goals for the Block Club.  Set date, time and place for future meetings.

501(c)(3) status – Benefits:

  • Qualify for grants from governmental agencies.
  • Qualify for grants from private foundations.
  • Provide tax deductions for your donors.
  • Receive tax exemptions from federal, state, local, income, property, sales and excise taxes.
  • Provide legal protections for the association directors and officers.

501 (C)(3) status – Disadvantages:

  • Must keep detailed financial records.
  • Required to prepare and file an annual report or other periodic report with the state.
  • Must make financial records available to organizations or individuals who contribute funds to the association.
  • Association must not engage in political activities such as campaigning, lobbying or support of specific candidates for office.

Sustaining:  If a block club organizes primarily around issues of crime prevention, you may find that as the problems get resolved, the group slowly loses momentum.  To keep a block club going, blend crime prevention into activities of community interest.