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Neighborhood Initiative Puts Residents at the Center

4.11.2019

Successful community rebuilding efforts are based on resident action and engagement. In its second year, GNL in partnership with the Victoria Foundation and Rutgers-Newark Cornwall Center, utilized its sphere of influence in the community, together with the input of residents to implement the Thriving Neighborhood Initiative (TNI), a new community building initiative. Focused primarily in two neighborhoods; Upper Clinton Hill in the South Ward and Fairmount Heights in the West Ward, TNI is deliberately designed to ensure that resident engagement contributes to the natural process of how key investors embark on new projects, and that change efforts are resident driven and resident informed.

The key goals of TNI are to:

In support of TNI’s efforts to develop, implement and help improve quality of life conditions, GNL offers opportunities to mobilize residents, support them in crafting solutions to community issues and implement activities.  

A continuous and important strategy toward achieving increased civic engagement are GNL’s Newark Resident Leadership Academy (NRLA), a six-month leadership development training for teams of resident leaders from neighborhoods throughout Newark, including Fairmount and Upper Clinton Hill.  In June 2018, nearly 40 residents from four different neighborhoods across the city, successfully completed NRLA. Upon completion resident teams were awarded a “community change,” grant to support a neighborhood-based project where they were able to apply what they learned from the training.  Community change projects included a health fair and a school food pantry. In October 2018, over 130 residents participated in GNL’s annual one day leadership conference, Growing Leadership, Building Communities (GLBC).  The training offered six consecutive workshops focused on leadership, safety, and health & wellness and provided participants the needed resources to become active change agents.

Another key engagement strategy is GNL’s Neighbors Helping Neighborhoods (NHN) small grants program. Launched in Spring 2018 NHN was designed to strengthen community, enhance neighborhoods, increase social networks and support resident led improvement projects. The first round of NHN awarded ten resident applicants, from Fairmount and Upper Clinton Hill, a grant up to $1,000 to support a community based project focused on community beautification, economic development, health & safety, and youth leadership & mentoring. Projects ranged from a community baby shower in Upper Clinton Hill reaching nearly 75 new an expecting mothers to a community quilt in support of intergenerational unity and cultural diversity in Fairmount. 

With successful grassroots efforts GNL continues to make great strides in its neighborhood building initiatives.