Beyond Belief Network Guides: Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative



Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) is Foundation Beyond Belief’s first Compassionate Impact Grant beneficiary, a new program in the Humanist Giving program that combines all member donations into one high-impact capacity-building grant. As with all FBB beneficiaries, DSNI was chosen based on compatibility with the FBB mission, program effectiveness, financial responsibility, and an innovative approach to solving a problem. DSNI works to “implement resident-driven plans partnering with nonprofit organizations, community development corporations (CDCs), businesses and religious institutions serving the neighborhood, as well as banks, government agencies, corporations and foundations.” You can use this guide for service event ideas to help DSNI’s goals.

DSNI’s Work

DSNI is an innovative organization focused on raising the quality of life and lifting families out of poverty in a single area of South Boston. They started 30 years ago as a grassroots collaborative, and eventually built an evidence-based urban renewal model so effective that it has drawn federal programmatic support, is studied in urban planning graduate programs, and serves as a model for similar projects around the U.S.

With the Compassionate Impact Grant, DSNI will implement Phase II of the Fair Chance for Family Success Initiative, an initiative focused on empowering individual families to develop strong community relationships while setting financial goals and receiving education and training to strengthen their economic security. The program uses staff from within the community. The pilot phase of this program was funded by The Boston Foundation earlier this year, and our grant will enable continued growth and expansion in 2015.

Event Ideas

These suggested ideas are intended to inspire Beyond Belief Network teams looking for potential events.

  • Ready, Set, Collect. Collect canned goods or other needed supplies for a local food bank. You can combine this collection with another event. For example, ask members to bring a canned good at your volunteer group’s next meeting. Alternatively, contact a local community garden to find out if they need volunteers to tend plots or harvest vegetables and fruit for donation to a community food bank. This latter option is perfect for volunteer groups looking for a family-friendly summer/fall service event.
  • Volunteerism Starts at Home. Since DSNI’s primary goal is about improving one’s community, events serving your home community extend DSNI’s mission. Volunteer at your local library or a Bernie’s Book Bank. Collect school supplies for families in need. If your community operates an annual festival, contact the event’s organizers and ask if they need volunteers. Search for a charity in your local area that focuses on community-building and economic stability, and raise funds for or volunteer with them. Consider a long-term engagement project such as a mentorship or school tutoring program.     
  •  Do Without. Fundraise for DSNI or another neighborhood charity by organizing a ‘Do Without’ pledge drive. Each volunteer gives up a particular habit (for example, purchasing a morning coffee, daily soft drinks, or smoking) for a week and donates the savings to a charity. If your volunteer group is part of Beyond Belief Network and donates the proceeds to DSNI, the event would be considered as a Foundation Partners Program event, which means it will count as two events. Perfect for teams looking to quickly raise their BBN team level!
  • Clean up the Neighborhood. Organize a neighborhood-wide litter removal. As volunteers clean up their assigned area of the neighborhood, ask them to keep track of the number of houses and lots. DSNI has had great success with lot reclamation. Converting an abandoned lot into a useful community space is something your volunteer group can consider for a long-term service project. Before your group starts breaking ground, though, research your location’s ordinances or laws regarding lot reclamation.

Follow Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and their work through their website and Facebook.