This past week, Isles turned 35. For me, it’s been a labor of love, allowing us to continually ask – and answer – one basic question, “What are the most powerful, low cost ways to develop self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities?” As you can see, we’ve settled on four key ways to do that: redevelop places and communities, build wealth, restore healthy environments, and educate and train residents.
While this approach, by design, works with local communities or ‘isles’, we increasingly influence others as well. By learning from our successes and failures, we help governments and private groups impact their own communities beyond central New Jersey.
For example, we’ve learned how lead and other environmental hazards make homes the most dangerous places for kids, thousands of whom are permanently damaged annually in New Jersey. We’ve also learned to remove and seal out lead in homes that poison those kids. Over the past few years, we uniquely renovated over 170 homes for under $7,000/unit, rendering them safe and energy efficient at the same time.
The debacle in Flint, Michigan brought media exposure and attention to our work (and its cost effectiveness). The result is a recent breakthrough in New Jersey: Governor Christie just committed $10 million to get more lead out of NJ homes. Our partners, the Housing & Community Development Network, New Jersey Citizen Action, the Anti-Poverty Network of NJ, and others collaborated to make this happen.
In this case, we tested, learned, taught others, and advocated to earn this progress. But this meant we needed flexible funding, like that provided by the 300 institutions and 1,000 individuals who donated to Isles. That is why you are so important!
For more info, check out our recent newsletter/annual report here.
Join the good work, help us celebrate 35 years of impact, and tell us what you think.