"...you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in."
Andrew J. Young, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Mayor of Atlanta, quoted these verses during a sermon in 1995. It inspired the title of Repairing the Breach, the seminal 1996 report hailed by Washington Post columnist Bill Raspberry as "the plan to save America."
CALL TO ACTION
Headquartered in Washington, DC, Neighborhood Associates is a nonprofit ally to 6,000 residents in 10 affordable housing communities across the U.S. We partner with civic groups, local nonprofits, researchers, developers, and property managers to advance resident-led, urban neighborhoods that are safe, green, healthy, just, prosperous, resilient, and above all, civically engaged.
In 1996, Marilyn Melkonian founded Neighborhood Associates to continue her commitment to advancing the self-efficacy of the neighborhoods her public benefit firm, Telesis, helped restore with community input. Her 40-year career as a housing activist includes serving as the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary for Housing at HUD during the Carter Administration, founding the National Housing Trust, and serving on the Boards of Common Cause and the Brookings Institution’s Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.
In the same year Neighborhood Associates was established, the National Task Force on African American Boys and Men released a seminal report with funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and key contributions from Ambassador Andrew Young and Ms. Melkonian. Repairing the Breach: Key Ways to Support Family Life, Reclaim our Streets, and Rebuild Civil Society in America’s Communities, was directed by Dr. Bobby William Austin and brought together leading civil rights activists, scholars, faith leaders, and practitioners to provide a framework for action and workable recommendations to address three key questions:
How do we find and discuss the things all Americans hold in common?
How do we make progress toward re-establishing supportive communities?
How do we help ethnic communities overcome negative media stereotypes and political exclusion?
In 2014, the Harvard Graduate School of Education sponsored a conference to reflect on the legacy of Repairing the Breach. Over 300 scholars and practitioners from around the country came to the event to join Dr. Austin, the report's architect. The consensus among attendees was that the report remains salient and that the formation of an organization specifically devoted to advancing the report’s recommendations would represent a significant next step.
Repairing the Breach has served as a compass for Neighborhood Associates since its inception in 1996. Following the conference, we decided to do more. In 2015, Dr. Austin was tapped to lead Neighborhood Associates and position it to become a torchbearer of Repairing the Breach. Under his, Neighborhood Associates partnered with the Repairing the Breach network, Telesis, and residents to attract new funding and pilot efforts to “rebuild the village" in urban areas, starting with our ten allied affordable housing communities.
REPAIRING THE BREACH
Twenty years after this documentary, we have many more roads to travel.
Since 1996, Neighborhood Associates has supported the self-determination of our allied communities by acting as a capacity builder.
Over the last five years, we have dedicated our expertise and resource to go beyond capacity building. We are developing programs, facilitating action-oriented community research, bringing cutting edge urban agriculture to affordable housing, and supporting new ways to invest in neighborhood resilience and economies. Now more than ever, we are committed to advance resident-led urban renewal.
In all our efforts, we are guided by the concepts of Asset-Based Community Development and hold that resilient, urban communities are abundant with inherent strengths, talents, and determination.
Our framework to support the inherent gifts of our allied communities is informed by the seminal report published by the National Task Force on African American Men and Boys with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Repairing the Breach.
We believe that residents are the greatest assets and partners in community development. We approach our work from a place of humility and in a spirit of learning together. The end goal of all of our collaborative efforts is to develop new, useful, and sustainable systems of human interaction that lead to greater self-determination, collective action, justice, and prosperity.
We strive to live by and achieve our Core Values as we engage the families and neighbors of our allied communities.
CIVILITY is a prerequisite for community living. It includes courtesy, respect, and kindness. It defines an intentional way of being in the world, guiding us in our interactions with members of our families, our community, and others we meet daily.
DEMOCRACY is having an equal say, by all, in determining the political, economic, and social processes and actions that govern our lives.
CULTURAL LEADERSHIP encourages the emergence of neighborhood leaders and supports traditions, integrating various cultural ideals and history that sustain and invigorate a diverse community.
EDUCATION is the system that passes culture and knowledge from one generation to the next.
HOME is the center of a strong and vital family and personal life, the heart of a stable community, and the stage upon which life is lived, culture learned, and civility taught.
GREEN LIVING conserves and preserves the earth’s natural resources and habitats.
HEALTH is the state of strong physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
LIVELIHOOD is the means for making a living, a living that provides the necessities of one’s way of life which does no harm and benefits others.