The Rutgers Community Outreach Partnership Center (RCOPC) is a university initiative, managed by the Center for Urban Policy Research, to assist community-based organizations in the revitalization of the West Side Park neighborhood in the Central Ward in Newark, New Jersey. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rutgers University jointly fund RCOPC. The West Side Park Community, home to approximately 15,000 residents residing in the neighborhood's 120 square blocks, is Newark's target area for New Jersey's Urban Coordinating Council initiative (UCC), which aims to coordinate state services through community-based planning. The Newark Community Development Network (NCDN) sponsors the UCC community based planning effort in West Side Park under the aegis of the Newark Empowerment Council or NEC. The NEC is composed of community organization representatives and community residents. It engaged in a comprehensive community planning effort resulting in the 1998 West Side Park Community Action Plan. RCOPC's principal objective is to assist and support the community-based revitalization efforts under way through these state and federal programs in the West Side Park Community. RCOPC’s goal is to mobilize and apply University resources to aid the development of a self-sustaining community-based capacity for neighborhood renewal in West Side Park.
The West Side Park Community contains the most impoverished census tracts in Newark, itself one of the poorest cities in the nation. The community's 2000 median household income ranged from a low of $19,831 in one census tract to a high of 30,781, considerably less than the state’s median household income of $55,146. In one of the neighborhood’s census tracts 44 percent of families live below the poverty level and the unemployment rate for all but one of the neighborhood’s census tracts exceeds ten percent.
In close collaboration with a 35-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) composed of target-area residents, community leaders, and business, government, foundation, and university representatives, RCOPC defined an evolving work plan that addressed seven separate functional categories of community needs. Since its inception in 1998, RCOPC has completed outreach and research tasks in the areas of Comprehensive Planning, Community Organizing, Neighborhood Revitalization, Economic Development, Affordable Housing, Health Care, and Education.
In Fall 2002, RCOPC was awarded a New Directions grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue this work for two more years. RCOPC’s outreach agenda, defined in close collaboration with the CAC contains thirteen outreach activities divided among a new functional category – Crime Prevention and Public Safety – and major new initiatives in three functional categories – Neighborhood Planning, Fair and Affordable Housing, and Economic Development – carried over from the original funding period.
West Side Park Location Map
West Side Park Overview Overview