The Delta Rising Program is a one-year pilot program that provides an opportunity for three Mississippi Delta Region communities to gather and learn together about ways to address and leverage vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties in their communities.

The participating communities are:

The materials below will be updated throughout the cohort.

Pease contact Libby Benton, Senior Counsel at [email protected] with any questions.


Lunch ‘n Learn Schedule and Materials

June Lunch ‘n Learn: Rural Community and Economic Development

Tuesday, June 13, 12-1 pm CT

During this session Dr. Bambie Hayes-Brown, CEO of Georgia Advancing Communities Together (ACT) and Rev. Fer-Rell Malone, Sr., Senior Pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church and CEO of FRESH Communities shared their deep expertise and success in equitable rural community development throughout the Black Belt region of the U.S. Ms. Chandra Griffin, Executive Director of the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency shared lessons learned from their efforts to demolish nearly 200 vacant, abandoned, dangerous properties over the last 18 months.


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August Lunch ‘n Learn: Land Banking

Tuesday, August 8, 12-1 pm CT

During this session Sara Toering, Community Progress Senior Fellow, provided an overview of land banks and land banking programs. Ms. Ruby Dean, Land Bank Redevelopment Administrator for the City of Little Rock shared her experience leading the Little Rock Land Bank Commission, which works in collaboration with residents, neighborhoods, developers, nonprofit organizations, and other government agencies to acquire and dispose of VAD properties with the goal of improving neighborhood conditions, increasing homeownership, stabilizing property values, and creating affordable housing.  


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October Lunch ‘n Learn: Code Enforcement

Tuesday, October 10, 12-1 pm CT

During this session, we explored strategies that Delta cities can use to bring properties “up to code” effectively, efficiently, and equitably. Joe Dulin, Community Development Director for the City of Peoria, Illinois, shared Peoria's nationally recognized “code encouragement” approach to code enforcement, which focuses on educating and engaging with property owners to obtain voluntary compliance, before using other enforcement mechanisms. Joe also discussed Peoria’s approach to vacant properties, which includes strategies focused on returning these properties to productive use, like affordable housing. Elaine’s Mayor Lisa Hicks-Gilbert. shared more information about Elaine’s Community Properties Revitalization (CPR) Days, including lessons learned and ideas for other communities.


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December Lunch ‘n Learn: Lessons from West Virginia

Tuesday, December 12, 12-1 pm CT

During this session, Taylor Bennett, Executive Director of the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation shared successful strategies rural communities in her state have used to address vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties. This has included forming an Abandoned Properties Coalition, regularly gathering for calls to build community and share best practices, and advocating for state-level reforms to address VAD properties. This includes winning the passage of Senate Bill 548 last year, which gives the state and local governments tools to direct tax foreclosed properties away from out-of-state speculators and toward neighbors and local governments, who can then work to redevelop and rehabilitate these properties.  


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February Lunch ‘n Learn: TBA

Tuesday, February 13, 12-1 pm CT

Zoom link: