Navigator Award Finalists: Hayley Steele and Helen Stoddard, Love Your Block, City of Phoenix


Connecting state and local government leaders

Making bottom-up neighborhood revitalization not just possible, but also sustainable.

This is the 36th in a series of profiles on the 50 finalists for Route Fifty’s Navigator Awards program. The first 10 finalists were from the Government Allies and Cross-Sector Partners category. Finalists 11-20 were from the Agency and Department Leadership category. Finalists 21-30 were from the Executive Leadership category. Finalists 31-40 were from the Next Generation category. Finalists 41-50 are from the Data and IT Innovators category. Explore our complete list of 50 finalists.

Starting a neighborhood revitalization project can be daunting, even for experienced government practitioners.

And local residents who take on these projects can see details like fundraising, recruiting volunteers, engaging a community, or collecting data after the project is completed as serious roadblocks. Yet, it’s often these neighborhood-based initiatives, with built-in stakeholder support that can be the most transformational.

Bringing these small but important projects within reach of local citizens is the goal for Love Your Block, a micro-grant program originally created by Cities of Service and spearheaded by two AmeriCorps Vista members in Phoenix, Arizona. Helen Stoddard and Hayley Steele have spent their service year planning, promoting and implementing the program that focuses on building up leadership and capacity in some of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods.

From the beginning, Stoddard and Steele knew that the key to sustainability for the Love Your Block initiatives, would be to make them easily replicable. Rather than having to reinvent the wheel for every community clean-up, tree-planting initiative or mural project, Stoddard and Steele wanted to establish a framework that any enterprising neighbor could follow.

The result is the Love Your Block Phoenix Toolkit. A detailed, thoughtful guide that makes it possible for neighborhoods to enact resident-driven change.

As shown in their Route Fifty Navigator Awards nomination submission:

With insider knowledge as both Phoenix residents and city hall liaisons, Hayley and Helen wove their understanding of the unique challenges and benefits of working in Phoenix into the Toolkit. Since the Toolkit is written specifically for the Phoenix audience, it enables residents across the city to replicate neighborhood revitalization projects more easily and gives them the confidence to work with city government and other partners. 

Route Fifty commends Stoddard and Steele for their efforts to make Love Your Block a sustainable program that will bring positive outcomes to the Phoenix region for years to come. It’s for that reason that we’re pleased to announce that Stoddard and Steele are both finalists for the Navigator Awards.

Quinn Libson writes for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: Navigator Award Finalist: Wes Craiglow, Deputy Director for Planning and Development, Conway, Ark.