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Community Revitalization Fellowship


The Community Revitalization Fellowship (CRF) helps grassroots leaders from small- and mid-sized communities revitalize neighborhoods that are struggling with serious challenges related to vacancy, abandonment, and disinvestment.


This rigorous, nine-month fellowship is a profound, immersive experience. Each year, six resident leaders from three communities (eighteen people in total) are selected as Fellows. They participate in learning exchanges in each other’s communities that feature a mix of technical and leadership trainings and local neighborhood tours. Fellows also develop strategies or projects to improve vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties in their neighborhoods. In 2019, CRF is focused on how residents can advocate for and lead community efforts to improve vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties in order to make their neighborhoods safer for everyone.


The 2019 Community Revitalization Fellows are eighteen community leaders from Gary, Indiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Newark, New Jersey. Read the press release >>


Stay tuned for next Community Revitalization Fellowship application process to launch in late 2019!


2019 Fellowship Communities


Gary, Indiana

Gary has lost over half of its population since the 1960s, and now has approximately 76,000 residents. Population loss, changes in industries, and aging infrastructure all contribute to widespread abandonment and vacancy throughout Gary’s neighborhoods. Approximately 25% of housing units are vacant and the city’s median household income is $28,895.


Community leaders and the City of Gary are working strategically to target resources in neighborhoods using a 5x5x5 approach: concentrating services in neighborhood segments that are 5 streets x 5 streets in size for 5 weeks. This clean-up has encouraged more resident engagement and the formation of new neighborhood associations. Residents are also using arts and culture as an engagement and neighborhood beautification and visioning strategy. These initiatives have led to increase relationship building amongst neighbors which contributes to safer and more engaged communities.


The Legacy Foundation, the community foundation for Lake County, Indiana, leads multiple initiates to empower and engage residents and will provide guidance and assistance to Gary’s six Fellows.


Meet the Fellows from Gary, Indiana:


Sam Barnett                Andrea Kelly Ledbetter           Freida Graves

Nina Burton                 Devin Hall                                 Ola Morris


Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson is a midsized city in the South home to 167,000 people, and the largest city in the state of Mississippi. Fellows from Jackson represent the West Jackson neighborhood, which is home to two of the largest institutions in the city, Jackson State University and the Jackson Zoo. However, the neighborhood experiences high rates of poverty (68%), crime (62 per 1000 residents), high school drop outs (33%), and unemployment (75%).


Recognizing crime was concentrated in areas with widespread property abandonment, residents in West Jackson developed a strategic plan to encourage investment in residential properties. Residents surveyed property conditions, developed a triage plan, and encouraged local business owners to invest and rehabilitate properties. What were once nuisance properties have been transformed into attractive homes for Jackson State University families and students.


The Foundation for the Mid South, whose mission is to invest in people and strategies that build philanthropy and promote racial, social and economic equity in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, will provide guidance and assistance to Jackson’s six fellows.


Meet the Fellows from Jackson, Mississippi:


Shante Crockett         Robin Kurtz-Lendner              Valerie Tucker

Heather Ivery             Lorena Quiroz-Lewis              Nia Umoja


Newark, New Jersey

The City of Newark is experiencing trends felt by many cities across the country: people are moving back into the city center seeking walkable communities and access to urban amenities. However, many neighborhoods in Newark are still struggling to recover from the foreclosure crisis, with high rates of foreclosure and abandonment. The city experiences a 19% vacancy rate with over 6,400 vacant properties.


Residents from the Fairmount Neighborhood, in the city’s West Ward, and the Clinton Hill neighborhood, in the City’s South Ward, have taken on leadership roles to revitalize their neighborhoods. Residents are using community engagement and CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) to reactivate a neighborhood park. They have been successful in organizing and advocating for their community and making it a safer place for all residents.


Greater Newark LISC, a national nonprofit community development intermediary that works in partnership with residents and other partners to forge resilient and inclusive communities across America, will provide guidance and assistance to Newark’s six fellows.


Meet the Fellows from Newark, New Jersey:


Ihsan W. Ali                Sonja Dabney             Tony Hughes

Johnnie Lattner          Victoria Lowery          Yolanda Stokes