A few days ago, I sat down with an old friend who had just read Isles' 2016 Annual Report. "This is very impressive work," he said, "but as a donor, I'm inundated by political fundraisers, organizations being threatened by political crises, and, oh yeah, big institutions like my college. "
In effect, he was asking, "What's a caring person to do - invest in meeting 'urgent' needs, deeper systemic change, or 'safer' institutions?"
You shouldn't have to choose.
At Isles, we meet critical basic needs - like food, shelter, jobs, family financial health, toxin-free homes for kids, and education for high school students who had dropped out. But we do it in ways that foster long-term, systemic change and self-reliance.
How? We foster community and school gardens (75 sites this year, growing tens of thousands of pounds of food!); develop permanent homes and help families buy their first one or keep them from foreclosure; plan community revitalization alongside residents; test and remediate homes that poison kids, educate and train high school dropouts; and much more.
Beyond services that build self-reliance at the local level, we work upstream to change unhealthy systems. We work to improve regional food systems, promote regulations and approaches that streamline and simplify lead remediation work, and push for commonsense legislation to protect our children from environmental hazards, like requiring a lead-safe certificate upon sale of a home. And we've been doing this for 36 years, so we've developed the systems and technology to continually improve and measure our impacts, track multiple funding sources, collaborate with others, and learn.
As I told my friend, caring people should demand a lot from their donations and investments. As we navigate these shifting political winds, I trust that thoughtful people like you will continue to stand with us and change the world for the better. We can't do this without you.