Howard University – LeDroit Park

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Testimonial
The Situation
The Need
The Solution

Testimonial
Hassan Minor, Senior Vice President – Howard University –

When Howard University made the decision to tackle the revitalization of LeDroit Park, we knew that we needed to form a partnership that provided us with skill, experience and leadership in community development and neighborhood revitalization.  We found all of those ingredients and so much more in Alvin Nichols.

Certainly, Alvin had the technical skills to work with Howard University and lead Fannie Mae’s engagement in our revitalization initiative. But what we didn’t expect, and were so pleasantly surprised to get in the package, was Alvin’s uncanny ability to engage with and represent our university community as seamlessly as if he were one of our own. That made all the difference in the world in my comfort level with the leadership of our Initiative, and ultimately our success.

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The Situation
Howard University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Founded in 1867, Howard is located in historic LeDroit Park in Washington DC, a neighborhood developed in 1873 shortly after the founding of the University. By the 1940s, LeDroit Park had become a major focal point for the African-American community, with many prominent African-Americans choosing to make this neighborhood their home.

The 1960s through the 1990s saw much of LeDroit Park fall into disrepair, as private investment in the community ground to a halt. However, in the mid-90s, Howard University leadership, recognizing that the school’s fate was tied directly to that of its neighborhood, made a decision to take the lead in spurring the revitalization of LeDroit Park.

The Need
Howard University needed a strong and experienced partner, capable of working closely with the University to plan, gather resources, and manage the execution of the LeDroit Park Revitalization Initiative. It needed a partner that understood the fundamentals of building and executing a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy in a highly sensitive community.

The Solution
Howard University found the partner it needed in Alvin Nichols and Fannie Mae’s local Washington DC Office. Alvin was the Director of Partnership Initiatives for this small team of specialists, which engaged in a 6-month strategic planning effort with Howard University senior management, culminating in the launch of the Howard University – LeDroit Park Initiative. Because of the scale, complexity and importance of the Initiative, Alvin Nichols was named “Loaned Executive” to Howard University by Fannie Mae’s Chairman, dedicated exclusively to managing the Company’s engagement with the University and to provide the technical leadership required to ensure the Initiative’s success.

For the next three years, Alvin focused his full energy on managing the success of the Howard University – LeDroit Park Initiative, working hand-in-hand with University leadership and the multi-disciplined team assembled to move the project forward. During that 3-year period, the LeDroit Park Initiative ignited a neighborhood revitalization that led to a resurgence of LeDroit Park. The Initiative directly spawned construction of dozens of new homes, waves of home renovations, new public infrastructure, and new retail and business investment along commercial corridors.

The success of the LeDroit Park Initiative garnered professional acclaim as a breakthrough economic development and urban revitalization strategy, drawing national media exposure to Howard University and LeDroit Park, as a model of Town-Gown engagement and partnership.