New Town Success Zone
About the New Town Success Zone
In April 2007, Mayor John Peyton, members of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission board and staff, and other community leaders traveled to Harlem, New York to learn more about the Harlem Children’s Zone® (HCZ), and it’s HCZ Project. The HCZ Project is a “multi-year comprehensive community building initiative of the Harlem Children’s Zone®.” It assists parents and caregivers, business leaders, professionals, residents, teachers and other stakeholders in creating a safe environment and pipeline to success for children who reside in a 97-block area of Central Harlem (www.hcz.org).
Under the leadership of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, a Steering Committee was formed to help develop a neighborhood project in Jacksonville that will use the strategies behind the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone in a unique and specific way that will reflect Jacksonville’s unique cultural, geographic and economic character. While the scale of the Harlem Children’s Zone and its ability to raise significant funding from the community around it are nearly impossible to replicate in Jacksonville, this project would use the combined strategies of powerfully linking and rigorously evaluating key services for children to positively change child outcomes.
February 2008, the New Town/Grand Park area was selected as the location for what would become the New Town Success Zone (NTSZ) community. The community is bordered by Myrtle Ave., Beaver St., and Kings Rd. The US Census (2016) estimates that 3,963 residents, 1,519 households, and 830 children live in the NTSZ.
|Figure 1: Map of the Geographic Boarders of New Town Success Zone|
Vision of the New Town Success Zone
The vision of the NTSZ is to serve as the catalyst by which families and children living in the New Town neighborhood can be connected seamlessly with programs and services that afford families the opportunity to help their children be the very best they can be.
Mission of the New Town Success Zone
The mission of the New Town Success Zone (NTSZ) is to provide a place-based continuum of services from prenatal and well-baby care to college or post-secondary training for children and their families living in the neighborhood.
These services of the New Town Success Zone are provided by a coalition of youth serving and community nonprofit agencies, in partnership with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission. The NTSZ uses the Collective Impact Model to address the existing social issues that impact a child’s ability to successfully progress through the Achievement Pipeline. The New Town Success Zone’s strategies are modeled after other programs that have already been proven successful such as the Harlem Children’s Zone and others here in Jacksonville, FL.
To achieve NTSZ’s mission, the following goals as reflected in the program plan are as follows:
- Education Goal: To improve the continuation of services from birth through high school graduation, postsecondary education, or career/vocational training completion of youth that reside in the neighborhood designated as the New Town Success Zone (NTSZ) in Jacksonville, FL.
- Social Wellbeing Goal: Improve the social wellbeing of children and youth in NTSZ by ensuring access to health care, food security, quality affordable housing, and safety.
- Community Capacity & Sustainability Goal: Empower NTSZ residents to sustain and support NTSZ goals, initiatives, and activities.
The NTSZ uses the Two-Generation Approach to offer a continuum of care for both children and their caregivers to strengthen and empower families to work towards achieving positive outcomes and higher education for their children. The Two-Generation Approach focuses on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both vulnerable children and their caregivers together. As illustrated below, the NTSZ’s Two Generation Approach engages the whole family while focusing equally and intentionally on services and opportunities for children and their caregivers.
Vision Keepers are NTSZ residents and community volunteers committed “doing the work’ required to ensure that the children and the families are making adequate progress towards success. Formed in January 2016, the Vision Keepers program aims to improve family and community engagement among NTSZ youth and adult residents. The volunteer program focuses on promoting community awareness and economic growth, by embracing the diversity of the NTSZ residents and restoring neighborhood pride in the following areas: 1) community education; 2) community improvement; 3) focus on youth; 4) safety; 5) community resources; and 6) economic growth. Membership is intended for residents of the NTSZ, but is open to anyone interested in making a difference in the neighborhood. As of May 2017, Vison Keeper membership includes 193 people. Vision Keepers community meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at 6pm on the campus of Edward Waters College in the Center for the Prevention of Health Disparities (1401 Grunthal Street).
NTSZ was chosen as one of two place-based communities in the state of Florida to receive a 5-year grant to enhance early childhood systems (Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems), in collaboration with the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalition. This collaboration builds on current local and state efforts and community partnerships to improve the developmental health of children, ages 0 to 3 years old. The focus extends beyond the children to implement the two-generational model of improving the well-being of the family to achieve sustainable growth.
FLORIDA CHILDREN’S INITIATIVE
Established by the Florida Legislature by Florida Statute 409.147 in 2008, the Florida Children’s Initiatives (FCI) are place-based initiatives modeled after the nationally recognized Harlem Children’s Zone and designed to build infrastructure and social capital for neighborhoods with significant disparities in child outcomes. Often, these neighborhoods are home to strong individuals and institutions that are committed to making a difference in the lives of children and their families. FCI aims to assist designated Florida neighborhoods by creating a community-based service network that develops, coordinates, and provides quality education, accessible health care, youth development programs, opportunities for employment, and safe and affordable housing for children and families living within its boundaries.
In 2008, the Florida Legislature assigned The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida the responsibility for reviewing and approving requests from local municipalities and/or counties to obtain a Children’s Initiative designation. The Florida Statute 409.147 establishes a process that clearly identifies severely disadvantaged areas and provides guidance for developing a new social service paradigm that systematically coordinates programs that address the critical needs of children and their families and for directing efforts to rebuild the basic infrastructure of the community. NTSZ is one of the original FCI communities, receiving its designation in 2008. Please visit the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida (https://www.ounce.org/fci.html) to learn more about FCI.
The Farmacy is a just over a quarter-acre plot of land provided by Edward Waters College to address the issues of food insecurity and access to affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood. Located on the corner of 3rd and Pearce Street, the Farmacy aims to serves as the epi-center for agriculture and nutrition education and resources for the neighborhood. The Farmacy produces year round crops using a variety of growing techniques, including hoop house growing, raised beds, and hydroponics. Edward Waters College recently received a grant for $30,000 from the Community Foundation to complete the build out of an Outdoor Learning Lab and Demonstration Kitchen, with construction set to begin in fall 2017.
Wellness RX is an 18-month partnership between New Town Success Zone and Mayo Clinic in Florida. Wellness Rx is a community led wellness programming effort to empower the community with information and opportunities to enhance and sustain an overall healthier lifestyle. The focus is not limited to health and includes topics that focus on the overall health of the entire family. By partnering with NTSZ and community based non-profit organizations, the Wellness Rx effort will bring consistent programming, activities, and initiatives that focus on the wellness of the whole family.
NTSZ/FAMU COOPERATIVE EXTENSION PROGRAM
The NTSZ developed a formal, collaborative relationship with the Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program to provide outreach education to residents of the NTSZ and students of Edward Waters College. The Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program was established as a part of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service by Federal and State legislation for the specific purpose of “extending” the educational service of the land-grant universities to the people of the State on subjects relating to agriculture, family and consumer science, 4-H youth development, community and natural resource development, energy and marine advisory programs. Program offerings for the NTSZ partnership focus primarily on Agriculture and Family and Consumer Sciences.
- Nutrition/Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP): Programing supported by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), a federal grant program awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide nutrition education to limited resource populations (adults and youth).
- Early Childhood Education: Programs conducted in partnership with the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Project (ECCS) to educate parents and caregivers of children ages 0-3 years old on developmental milestones.
- Housing: Program conducted in Partnership with HabiJax to educate new and established homeowner on general home maintenance and energy conservation techniques to ensure the health of the inhabitants and the home.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
To learn how you can donate your time, talent or treasure to the NTSZ, contact:
George Maxey, Executive Director
The New Town Success Zone
(904) 470-8262 | George.Maxey@ewc.edu