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Veteran community nonprofit strengthens push in new way

Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods in action at a recent meeting.

Veteran community nonprofit strengthens push in new way
March 02
13:10 2022

By John Railey

Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, its longstanding commitment to under-resourced communities fire-forged and strengthened by the pandemic, is roaring ahead with new energy.

“We’re here. We’ve been here. And we’ll continue to be here, working with residents and communities,” Executive Director Latoya Robinson said in a recent interview.

Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (NBN) is expanding its bedrock work in East Winston and environs to outlying areas of Forsyth County. Robinson and Tembila Covington, in NBN’s new position of Strengthening Neighborhoods and Families director, share a commitment to breaking down the barriers to economic mobility with Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). CSEM Associate Director Alvin Atkinson has long been active on the NBN board. Recently, CSEM’s Regional Economist, Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, began serving on the board.

NBN has expanded its staff, adding an economic and equitable development director, training and technical assistance coordinator, a finance and human resources director, and will be adding an impact and engagement coordinator. It has further defined its strategic areas including civic engagement, economic mobility, and equitable development.

It is striving for more engagement with elected officials to generate beneficial change. A committee of the NBN board will evaluate, on a quarterly basis, the impact the agency is making, adjusting strategies as needed.

Covington, with long experience in social engagement on health and wellness programs, is leading a pilot program on that issue, helping residents define their needs. “Leveraging resources; that, along with connecting people and strengthening resources, is our mission,” she said. Food deserts will be confronted, as well as disparities among people of color.

NBN will continue with its bedrock programs of Resident Leaders program, Grassroots Grants Initiative and training in Racial Equity, Asset Based Community Development.

NBN was founded in 1990 by The Winston-Salem Foundation and neighborhood residents to support the local community. The fundamental focus was based on human resources and the importance of it being reclaimed, and the development of healthy neighborhood leadership, while acknowledging that both physical and human assets contribute to the vitality of the entire community. Its vision is “safe, just and self-determined neighborhoods for all residents.”

“The purpose of Neighbors For Better Neighborhoods is to strengthen neighborhoods in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County in North Carolina by supporting a wide range of community-based initiatives,” Robinson said. “NBN believes that long-term change in communities only happens when residents participate in creating solutions. For that reason, we seek to support neighborhood groups and encourage resident-led problem-solving through an asset based community development approach. Now, that crucial work continues in a new and strengthened way.”

John Railey, raileyjb@nullgmail.com, is the writer-in-residence for CSEM, www.wssu.edu/csem.

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