Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s Fair Chance for Family Success

For Q4 2014, FBB launched a new program that takes a different approach to funding beneficiaries: This quarter, we are awarding a Compassionate Impact Grant to one organization, selected after an extensive application and review process.

Dudley_NeighborhoodWe have touted the strengths of our featured beneficiary, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a 30-year-strong community organization that has built community relations while dealing with problems of blight, safety, education, and housing

DSNI has a strong forward direction for change, combining community development, individual participation and support, and institutional systems to facilitate the needs of this program. DSNI staff does not stop after one success: A community survey and months-long development process were conducted to identify additional needs in the community that were not being met. This rigorous process identified sustained economic struggles persisting within the households in the Dudley neighborhood.

DSNI, along with the Boston Promise Initiative, worked carefully with community leaders to develop a program to invigorate the community, called Fair Chance for Family Success. The program model involved getting commitments from individuals and households to participate in a financial education program. Local residents were hired and trained, and they participated in public meetings and door-to-door interactions to encourage participation. Once a commitment was made, the individual was placed in a cohort, or a group of other participants that would work to support each other and hold each other accountable to their goals. These goals were set solely by the individual participants. In addition, the cohorts received substantial support in financial health from community organizations other than DSNI. 

TriangleDudleyThe pilot of this project is in an area called the Dudley Triangle, a central area of the neighborhood. Initial evaluations of the pilot program showed progress and success. There are currently 100 participants and 30 people on the waiting list.

FBB’s Compassionate Impact Grant will be a major source of funding for Phase II of the Fair Chance for Family Success program in the Dudley neighborhood. Phase II goals include expanding the program, with a focus still on the Dudley Triangle area. While the entire Dudley neighborhood is in need, core areas of engagement were identified to create a significant density to gauge improvement. Specific growth goals for the program are set based on the pilot results.

DSNI will hire additional staff from the local neighborhood to further administer the program, including more leaders to recruit participants into the program. There will also be a Young Adult leader to recruit young adults into their own peer cohort to set their own financial goals. The cohort model has been used widely, throughout community organizing, public development, and academia.

We are excited to be a part of this growing program with Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, an established leader in its community.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative is turning 30 this year! They have been celebrating with events throughout the year. Upcoming events include a screening of Gaining Ground, the annual DSNI gala, and homecoming weekend, all the weekend of November 7-8. Check out their anniversary website for more information.