LISC National

Putting the Community Back in Community Development

by Rhonda A. Lewis

Dear Friends and Partners:

Over the last three decades, LISC’s community development strategy in greater Newark was designed to provide high quality schools, homes, recreation, and economic development opportunities for residents and stakeholders. LISC’s strong foundation and reputation is built on decades of bricks and mortar development in greater Newark and beyond. Over the last thirty years LISC has invested $99M, leveraged $640M and contributed to the production of more than 2,300 homes for low to moderate income people. Recently, we've doubled down on our place based development-driven revitalization strategy by elevating the voices of residents and facilitating resident engagement as part of the community development process. Indeed, resident leadership development is the centerpiece of our revitalization efforts.

At Greater Newark LISC, we believe that people centered revitalization, or as we call it, resident engagement is the key to creative and meaningful community development efforts. From our Financial Opportunity Centers and community safety initiatives to our Newark Resident Leadership Academy and annual Growing Leadership, Building Community resident leadership conference, our goal is to strengthen the leadership capacity of residents so that they  can be at the forefront of revitalization efforts in their community.

Resident centered revitalization isn’t easy and it isn’t fast, but it is rewarding in ways that are authentic and sustainable. Important to resident centered revitalization are supportive community partners that also believe in the power of engaging community members around quality of life initiatives. Greater Newark LISC is fortunate to have many Newark partners that share this belief including the Victoria Foundation. When we launched the Newark Resident Leadership Academy pilot program in 2016, the Victoria Foundation stepped up to the plate as the primary funding partner and two years later the program has trained dozens of resident leaders across the city of Newark.

As a continuation of this people-centered strategy, the Victoria Foundation selected Greater Newark LISC as its intermediary partner for their work in two Newark Neighborhoods: Fairmount in the West Ward and Upper Clinton Hill in the South Ward. This place-based community development initiative will support residents and resident associations in the two Newark neighborhoods as they work alongside stakeholders and partners to invent and implement projects and programs that are important to the community.

We are excited about the possibilities of this work and can’t wait to see where it ends up. I encourage you to read this season’s newsletter to get a better understanding of our resident engagement efforts in Newark and we invite you to join our community of residents and partners as we embark upon grassroots revitalization efforts inspired by local agents of change.


Rhonda A. Lewis
Executive Director