Developing Community Leaders
A Neighborhood Initiative
We're developing a new generation of leaders who are creating self-sufficient communities of their dreams.
In the middle of New Brunswick, a growing urban center in central New Jersey, the 57-block Esperanza neighborhood serves as the city’s main gateway and port of entry for majority Latino immigrants seeking a better life in the United States. More than even many native-born Americans, immigrants often arrive in communities like Esperanza with an unwavering sense of their American Dream. Whether pushed out of their home countries by violence or pulled by tales of economic opportunity, immigrants carry with them the conviction that their sacrifices will yield a better future in the U.S. for themselves and their children. The name Esperanza – meaning “hope” in Spanish – says it all.
Now, NBT is putting our forty-plus years of social revitalization experience at the service of Esperanza’s immigrant residents and their native-born neighbors. Since 2014, we have been working with community members through our Esperanza Neighborhood Project to implement a comprehensive suite of strategies to make this neighborhood a worthy home for their American dreams by:
1) Empowering Neighborhood Leaders
Intensive outreach and leadership development is equipping Latino community members to step up as engaged civic leaders, reaching out to thousands of their neighbors and making their voice heard at City Hall. Community advocacy has already resulted in the passage of local ordinances to expand low-wage workers’ rights, promote immigrant inclusion, and tackle abandoned and vacant properties.
2) Supporting Families
Our innovative Family Leadership Academy is supporting families in our community to pursue their goals of stability and economic mobility, while saving for a better future. Forty families have graduated thus far, saving a total of over $85,000 and achieving goals in health, education, career, and finances.
3) Equipping Entrepreneurs
Small business technical assistance complemented by joint marketing and creative corridor improvements is taking the neighborhood’s commercial district to the next level as a Latino cultural destination. We are also launching a community marketplace with training available to help community micro-entrepreneurs translate their skills into income-generating businesses.
4) Creating Safe Neighborhoods
Our neighborhoods, in many ways, define our opportunities. When we consider some of New Brunswick’s most chronic challenges – crime and safety, housing, education, and access to care services – opportunities expand or contract depending on how well we address those challenges in specific neighborhoods.
Our goals for the Crime Watch Safety Group include:
- Improve neighborhood cleanliness and aesthetics
- Enhance neighborhood safety
- Remove property blight from neighborhoods
- Increase access and usage of parks & gardens
Number of volunteer residents
Number of hours resident volunteers have performed for clean-ups & Crime Watch meetings
Number of resident Family Leadership Academy graduates
Total money saved by FLA graduates for future investments
Amount invested by the City of New Brunswick to improve neighborhood storefronts
Number of workers gaining mandatory paid sick time due to Esperanza resident activism
Completed cohort sessions
families graduated from FLA
collectively saved for future investment
personal goals completed
Within three years, NBT and our partners in the Housing Collaborative will have substantially impacted dynamics in New Brunswick’s housing market, particularly for LMI and immigrant families in Esperanza and Unity Square, by:
Number of new first-time home buyers
Number of blighted homes that have been rehabilitated
Number of residents signing up for housing assessments
Completed home assessments (May–July ’18)
NBT and its partners will have contributed to the growth of local entrepreneurs and small businesses by:
Local entrepreneurs participating in the community marketplace
Entrepreneurs completing the Community Business Academy program
New small businesses formed
Improvement in customer/resident perceptions of French St. Corridor (via Survey)
Increased sales at participating businesses