EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES TO EMPOWER THEMSELVES
The Urban League has always worked to be a powerful ally and advocate for the individuals, families and communities that we serve. As Newark develops, it is critical that the development priorities of the residential neighborhoods of Newark’s neighborhoods are not forgotten.
Equitable development requires that we reverse the patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promoting equitable revitalization throughout all communities.
We have been working with the residents of the Fairmount neighborhood for the last 10 years and are working with residents in other neighborhoods to undertake resident driven plans to improve their communities.
In 2017, the City of Newark engaged with Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity (CLIME) to develop an equitable development plan for the City. The plan was undertaken in direct response to the increased development activities in downtown and the real concerns of resident displacement in the city.
Since the publication of the study, planning work in neighborhoods has continued through significant engagement with residents and businesses.
Today, the "Littleton Model Block" is recognized as a desirable neighborhood, with new sidewalks, decorative lighting and welcoming landscaping. Not only is the neighborhood off of the "crime hot spot" map, but has one of the lowest records of reported crime for the entire area.
Thriving Neighborhoods Initiative
In 2017, the Victoria Foundation launched an effort to deepen its impact by working with resident leaders and community stakeholders to target and leverage its investments in neighborhoods. With the intention of making a 7-10 year commitment, the Foundation is working with partners in Fairmount Heights and Upper Clinton Hill to identify priority projects and build civic capacity. The initiative is being carried out with Greater Newark LISC as an intermediary and the Rutgers-Newark Cornwall Center as a program evaluator.
The initiative includes coaching for neighborhood associations, leadership development for residents, a mini-grants program, and support for residents in identifying and implementing projects to improve neighborhood quality of life.
THE FAIRMOUNT HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD
In 2008, The League realized that to catalyze long-term positive change in its "home" neighborhood of Fairmount Heights, there needed to be a network of people and resources dedicated to advocating for and acting as champions for the best interests of the community.
In that same year, it founded the Fairmount Heights Neighborhood Association (FHNA) to fulfill that role. For the next year, FHNA's founding board members engaged in education and training to further develop their leadership capacity and knowledge of strategic community organizing.
2010, with FHNA as its outreach partner, ULEC led a two-year, community-wide initiative to create a strategic neighborhood revitalization plan. The completed plan was supported by The League working with funders to secure resources to move its strategic neighborhood plan from aspiration to reality.
The Urban League has been providing services in the Clinton Hill neighborhood through our partnership with Leaders for Life. Through our Urban Youth Reentry Program (UYRP) We provide job readiness, training and financial literacy training for opportunity youth, ages 18-24 who have had previous interaction with the justice system. We have expanded the program to include construction apprentice program - Pre-Apprentice Career Education (PACE) - with individuals in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. We have also expanded our Financial Opportunity Center to Clinton Hill.
BUILDING BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS: THE MODEL BLOCK INITIATIVE
In 2012, Littleton Avenue was known as a run-down, high crime block. In keeping with its vision of transforming blighted areas into thriving and desirable "neighborhoods of choice," The League built four new, affordable homes on the block. From there, the agency took on the role of catalyst - bringing knowledge, partners and resources.
Through ULEC's community outreach and organizing, the new development acted as a lever of positive change - bringing home owners, residents and stakeholders together and generating private investment and other neighborhood improvements.
ULEC's block revitalization model leverages all aspects of improvement, including skilled job training and employment. This initiative also provided a group of motivated reentry candidates with paid on-the-job experience in construction trades.