There are two main issues of community organizing concern in West Side Park. The first is networking all of West Side Park's vibrant community organizations together. The second is assisting West Side Park's CDCs and other community organizations to engage community residents in the West Side Park community.
· Building the Capacity of the Neighborhood Empowerment Council
· Community Organization Capacity Building
Building the Capacity of the Neighborhood Empowerment Council
Center for Urban Policy Research (CUPR), Neighborhood Empowerment Council (NEC)
The West Side Park Neighborhood Empowerment Council (NEC) comprises a coalition of independent community based organizations, several of which have been in existence for two decades or more. The West Side Community Action Plan, the NEC's comprehensive plan for community revitalization, represents a statement of collective goals as well as an amalgamation of projects sponsored by the individual community organizations. Many of the NEC's subcommittee chairs also occupy leadership positions within these anchoring organizations.
This organizational structure allows the NEC to draw from a rich array of organizations and resources throughout the community. It also, however, raises recurring and difficult issues of coordination and potentially divided loyalties between the NEC and individual organizations. Funding obligations and accountability issues sometimes understandably place the priorities of individual organizations above those of the NEC's collective enterprise. Successfully negotiating the process of coalition building and forging a collective identity for the NEC may be the single most important hurdle confronting the revitalization of West Side Park.
RCOPC uses the NEC as its primary community contact and all RCOPC activities are coordinated through the NEC rather than with specific community organizations. RCOPC is seeking to build the NEC by recognizing and reinforcing the NEC's role through our actions. RCOPC works through and with the NEC at all times, keeps the NEC fully informed of RCOPC activities and makes clear to our partner organizations that our work with them is guided by NEC priorities as stated in the West Side Park Community Action Plan.
Community Organization Capacity Building
Center for Urban Policy Research (CUPR), International Youth Organization (IYO), CREST Community Development Corporation
A rich network of strong, vital, and energetic community based organizations constitutes one of the most important resources of the West Side Park community. A major challenge confronting these organizations, however, is the need to continually engage community residents in their activities and to foster leadership skills among neighborhood residents.
CUPR researched leadership development programs available to West Side Park residents and distributed the information to our community partner organizations. Two training models were identified: comprehensive training, in which residents participate in an off-site training program together with residents of other New Jersey communities; and targeted training, in which trainers come into the community to work with residents on issues specific to the community.
Two community partners-IYO and CREST-are working to establish seven Resident Councils in West Side Park to engage residents in community issues. To provide leadership for the several resident councils, they are recruiting residents for comprehensive leadership training provided by the New Jersey Affordable Housing Network's Community Building Support Initiative.
To participate in community training, contact Gerry Harvey at CREST community development corporation 973-621-0770.
Residential Council Areas
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Student Internship Placement (http://www.ncfc.rutgers.edu/case.html)
Rutgers Citizenship and Service Education (CASE), Corinthian Housing Development Corporation, International Youth Organization (IYO), CREST Community Development Corporation, Babyland 6, and the Women's Urban Renewal Corporation
Rutgers undergraduate students work with West Side Park community organizations in meaningful community service opportunities. These student placements help to provide needed personnel to expand the capacity of community based organizations to deliver services.
Mobilizing University Resources
Center for Urban Policy Research (CUPR), Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development Community Development Studio, Newark Center for Families and Communities (NCFC)
RCOPC identifies and mobilizes faculty, students and other University resources to work directly with our community partners in West Side Park's revitalization. RCOPC hires graduate research assistants to provide technical assistance to West Side Park community organizations. The Community Development Studio has worked closely with community organizations to develop a comprehensive community plan, a social services directory, and a plan to revitalize the neighborhood's park. CASE students on the Rutgers-Newark campus do community service internships with West Side Park community organizations.