Neighborhood Centers' Approach to Community Development

Houston nonprofit Neighborhood Centers aims to improve the lives of low-income families and individuals by strengthening communities in the Greater Houston area. One way they have accomplished this is by providing necessary resources and services, such as the construction of educational facilities and community centers.

The Page team has worked closely with the Neighborhood Centers team and active community participants to develop a facility program for a new East Aldine Community Center. The focus, organization, and character of the facility is derived directly from input gathered during work sessions with the community and residents of East Aldine.

The nonprofit uses a “bottom-up” approach to implement change in the neighborhood, according to a recent article in the New York Times, “What Do the Poor Need? Try Asking Them”.

“To improve poor neighborhoods, the people who live there must have a hand in deciding their own fate. That approach works well in Houston, where one program has enabled hundreds of thousands of poor residents, many of them immigrants, to move up the ladder of economic and educational opportunity each year.”

The members of Neighborhood Centers actively listen to and involve the residents in order to gain feedback on what the area needs rather than telling them. “We go where we’re invited and do what we’re asked to do,” Angela Blanchard, Neighborhood Centers’ president and chief executive officer, said during her interview with the New York Times.

Many people were doubtful of Blanchard’s unique strategy, but the nonprofit continues to grow. “The naysayers in Houston and Washington, D.C., the government agencies and big banks, told us we had a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding,” Blanchard stated. Now, the organization operates over 70 sites, including schools, senior services, tax centers / financial services, and community facilities. They have also secured jobs for 110,000 people.

Neighborhood Centers continue to help create opportunities for the locals through job training, small business classes and tax preparation, despite the challenges it may face. We are proud to further support their mission with the design and construction of their newest community center.

You can read the full New York Times article here.