CEO Column

September Update

Dear Friends, The best kept secret to education is… someone  chooses to learn. At Isles Youth Institute, a new crop of 70 young people, mostly 17-20 year olds who have struggled in and dropped out of typical classroom settings, begin their education anew this week. To make sure they are ready, Isles created a Mental …

August Update

Dear Friends, The research is increasingly clear, but it’s not news to us: a green, more natural environment affects our physical and mental health and the health of our communities. This is particularly true in cities. Over the decades, Isles has partnered with communities to create green, safe spaces – parks, gardens and buildings – that …

A Tribute to Pat Donohue

You can tell a lot about a guy by playing basketball with him. It was many years ago, but I really met Pat Donohue on a hoops court. He was fearless. With his small, 5’7” frame, he would take it right at the big guys underneath. He wasn’t just courageous – he was also talented. From the first game, …

June 2015 CEO Corner

On June 23rd, we celebrate the 20th Isles Youth Institute graduation! I fondly remember the decision, just over 21 years ago, to create Isles’ YouthBuild, where disconnected 16-24 year olds can grow, learn construction skills, earn a high school degree and renovate homes in the city.  Over 1,000 students have benefited from IYI. From the beginning, we …

May 2015 CEO Corner

May is almost over and it’s tempting to highlight the 60+ gardens, real estate construction, the busy-ness of the season, etc.  However, doing good work is important, and as we say around here, the “magic” is in the learning (and increasingly in the teaching). As we learn by doing, we then must share that with …

March 2015 CEO Corner

On April 11th, Isles turns 34. Over those years, we’ve steadily built the capacity to foster sustainable development across the region. But of course, we can’t – and would never try – to do it alone. As our name suggests, Isles provides a range of help to local community-based groups (or “isles”). They are the glue …

February 2015 CEO Corner

Here in New Jersey, it’s been cold. Take a moment to imagine those who live in substandard housing. Thousands of friends and neighbors live in leaky, drafty homes that are expensive to heat! For years, Isles has worked to develop low-cost ways to retrofit homes for energy efficiency, while also remediating the lead poisoning and …

January 2015 CEO Corner

As we head into the new year, we take stock of the accomplishments of the past year…but not for long. We expect 2015 to be even more transformational.   Part of that change includes new leaders at the Isles board level.  We are grateful to Dr. Ann Marie Senior, who chaired Isles’ board in 2014. …

December 2014 Update

Holiday greetings!  This year, my holiday message is a simple one: take a look at the staff photo below, taken a few days ago at our Holiday party. I don’t tell them this nearly enough, but these are the faces of extraordinary, inspirational  people who bring diverse perspectives and talents to Isles’ audacious mission. They …

Bill Scheide, 1914-2014

Isles’ friend, advocate, and donor Bill Scheide passed away on November 14, shortly before his 101st birthday. Bill was a Renaissance man. World class musician, arts collector, philanthropist, civil rights supporter, and anti-poverty advocate, his impact reached back many decades and across the country.    Bill’s quiet but powerful voice for civil rights began when a …