Developing Community Leaders

Esperanza Neighborhood

Esperanza Neighborhood

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:

  1. Improve neighborhood cleanliness and aesthetics
  2. Enhance neighborhood safety
  3. Remove property blight from neighborhoods
  4. 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

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp

Camp attendees preparing for soccer skills camp


  • The neighborhood faces challenges associated with economic pressures and quality of life concerns
  • The median household income of approximately $38,000 is just more than half of the statewide median of $72,000
  • The strong real estate market further squeezes families’ tight budgets: Only a quarter of residents are homeowners, while approximately 70% of renters are housing cost-burdened and despite relatively strong levels of neighborhood satisfaction, residents consistently express concerns about neighborhood safety, cleanliness and physical conditions in surveys
  • The barriers associated with many residents’ lack of English proficiency and legal status further complicates efforts to address these challenges
  • The current political reality has also introduced a new degree of anxiety and uncertainty into many immigrant families’ daily lives


NBT partners with the following organizations to make this program available to the people of New Brunswick: NJCC, PRAB and Rising Tide Capital.