What Sets Us Apart

Our Mission

The Urban Neighborhood Initiative is dedicated to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty by helping to build healthy neighborhoods that enable all children and families to succeed and thrive.

Our History

The Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI) evolved as one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Big 5” initiatives and from work of United Way of Greater Kansas City, becoming an independent 501c3 in 2012 and established as a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in 2016.  We were established to ensure that all families can live in an environment of over-all health and safety, where communities are strong, children learn and play, families live in quality housing, and parents work in stable jobs.

Our Priorities as Defined by Our Neighborhood Partners


Safety and Health

  • Strengthen neighborhood engagement in fighting crime
  • Identify and/or create more safe places for recreation and exercise
  • Develop more healthy food options
  • Provide greater access to technology
  • Support the development of community gathering places


  • Create more jobs for residents, opportunities for employment at livable wages in the area, and thriving businesses
  • Identify education and training opportunities for adults and career development and/or job opportunities for young adults
  • Create an access point for a comprehensive approach to asset-building supports and services
  • Attract mixed income housing and mixed use development to the area
  • Strengthen neighborhood restoration and redevelopment of housing and grounds (steps and sidewalks, for example) and infrastructure (such as curbing and street lighting)




  • Strengthen the efforts and capacity of parents, community organizations and schools to support school readiness and early learning
  • Promote positive child and youth development opportunities for school age children and youth
  • Prepare young people for college and careers


Map Of UNI











Community Reports

Click on the titles to open a report:

dianne cleaver

president & CEO

deborah craig

community impact manager

sonya nicholson

administrative assistant

darryl answer

community health & wellness specialist

Our staff

Shalaunda Holmes

Community Real Estate Director


marcy chiasson

support staff


Rachael Thomas

Social Work Intern