Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), our Compassionate Impact Grant beneficiary from Quarter 4 of 2014, has implemented many programs in an effort to raise the quality of life for families in the Dudley area in the Roxbury-Dorchester neighborhoods in Boston. The program funded by the Compassionate Impact Grant is 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. One participant of the Fair Chance Initiative is Tony Hernandez. He also serves as DSNI Director of Operations and Stewardship.
Mr. Hernandez, along with six other Fair Chance participants, meet once a month to set goals and provide support. This small group is actively involved in one part of Fair Chance called The Lending Circle. The Lending Circle requires a commitment from each group member to contribute a certain amount of money per month. Once they sign a loan contract at a local bank (which acts as an eighth participant), a pre-set amount is deducted and sent to one member of the group. The member uses this pool for any purpose including paying bills. A member can even forego their round and transfer it to another member. After the eight-month cycle is completed, participants have the option to go through another. Hernandez’s group is on its second cycle.
“It creates a camaraderie around group members,” states Hernandez. “We gain more confidence in our ability to reach goals.” Individuals are required to fill out online journals, monitoring their progress. This forces members to hold themselves accountable, thus creating a sense of responsibility within the group. Programs like The Lending Circle also create networking opportunities for participants. “It’s a chance to congregate and know who is in the neighborhood,” says Hernandez. Participants keep updated about neighborhood business including potential employment opportunities.
The impact an initiative of this nature has upon a community cannot be measured through traditional means. Hernandez described its success, in part, as pushing participants “to blossom in ways [they] didn’t imagine [they] could.” Participants gain the self-confidence and sense of empowerment to pursue goals such as owning a home or starting a business. Fair Chance also offers grants for families to take small vacations, helping to strengthen family ties.
The Fair Chance for Family Success Initiative remains an important part of DSNI. DSNI considers this to be its key strategy for ensuring that within the next decade, Dudley families will have the resources and support to sustain themselves on a path to greater economic prosperity. Whatever changes may be made in the future to this program, undoubtedly Fair Chance will continue work towards its goal of empowering and improving the lives of individuals and families.
Foundation Beyond Belief is proud to support Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative as they continue to empower their community through programs like Fair Chance for Family Success Initiative. You can learn more about DSNI’s programs through Facebook and Twitter. Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative received Foundation Beyond Belief’s first Compassionate Impact Grant in 2014 in the amount of $56,000, thanks to the generosity of our regular giving members. Our next Compassionate Impact Grant cycle is currently open. For more information, consult our website.