Community Improvement, Capacity Building
Founded in 1981, Isles, Inc. is a community development and environmental organization based in Trenton, New Jersey. With a mission to foster self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities, we design and develop effective services that support this mission and share what we learn with others who can make a difference.
10 Wood Street
Trenton, NJ 08618 USA
community development, environment, energy education, job training, Youthbuild, community planning, affordable housing, green building, urban agriculture, homebuyer counseling, foreclosure prevention, microbusiness training, at-risk youth, nutrition education, school gardening,
Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)
IRS Filing Requirement
This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
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What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Center for Energy & Environmental Training
Center for Energy and Environmental Training (CEET): Isles’ CEET is a green collar job training facility, targeting careers in energy efficiency and environmental health. CEET partners with employers, higher education institutions, labor unions, training organizations, and others. CEET provides nationally certified energy efficiency training for building analysts, heating professionals and weatherization technicians. Environmental health courses are provided for Community Health Workers, Building Inspectors and other home visitors in assessing and addressing lead hazards and indoor air issues (mold, moisture, pests, etc.) that affect health. CEET is a Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified training center and a satellite training center for the NJ Center for Healthy Housing.
Isles' Youth Institute
Isles Youth Institute (IYI): Isles Youth Institute offers alternative education options for disengaged students seeking their high school equivalency diploma, vocational skills training (construction, computer technology, office management), and life skills training (leadership, financial, health education, conflict management). Isles has developed an effective peer-based approach for students ages 16 to 24, who have struggled in conventional school settings and/or have had encounters with the justice system. IYI students rehabilitate at least one abandoned home in Trenton each year.
Isles Community Enterprises
Isles Community Enterprises includes the following:
Isles Financial Solutions (IFS): IFS is an employer-based financial capability initiative for low-wage and under-served consumers. IFS is designed to create positive, long-term behavior change in our participant’s financial knowledge and decision-making. We empower IFS customers to improve their financial capacity through an innovative mix of financial coaching, credit-building finance, savings products and group-based learning. IFS uses an integrated blend of several proven behavior change methods and small dollar finance for improving financial capability. This blend provides rapid, substantial and lasting improvements in credit scores, savings accumulation, and overall debt.
Homeownership and Foreclosure Counseling: Isles provides one-on-one and group counseling to prepare low- and moderate-income individuals for homeownership, and delivers intensive one-on-one counseling to help families avoid foreclosure. Isles is a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) certified housing counseling agency and an approved foreclosure counseling agency of New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency.
Community Planning and Development and Urban Agriculture
Community Planning and Development: CP&D facilitates collaborative efforts to identify community concerns and priorities, creates stakeholder-led plans to address those concerns and priorities, and secures resources to sustain neighborhood revitalization efforts over the long term. Isles plays a strategic role in neighborhood plan implementation by carrying out projects including physical redevelopment, securing abandoned buildings and maintaining vacant lots, and creating cost-effective recreation programs. In addition, Isles leads city-wide research and planning initiatives related to blight reduction, creative placemaking, and food systems.
Urban Agriculture: Isles’ urban agriculture work addresses hunger, food access, and community disinvestment in Trenton by sharing tools, networks, and resources that empower residents and stakeholders to take action and make healthy choices. Isles Garden Support Network (IGSN) currently supports over 65 community and school gardens by providing technical assistance to local residents, teachers and students, and community-based organizations. We also offer garden-based environmental education to schools and summer programs. We estimate that direct beneficiaries of this work include more than 200 gardeners, gardeners’ family members, 40 teachers, and nearly 260 students.
Environmental Health Isles targets the environmental hazards that impact family health and develops cost effective ways to reduce the presence and impact of those hazards. Through research, education, and action, individuals learn about lead and asthma triggers in homes and their relationship to energy efficiency efforts, and creative approaches to testing for hazards and then retrofitting homes to improve health and quality of life.
Where we workNew!
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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
Founded in 1981, Isles, Inc. is a community development and environmental organization based in Trenton, New Jersey. Our goal is to foster self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities. To this end we design and develop effective services that support this goal and share what we learn with others who can make a difference.
• revitalizes communities by working alongside local residents to plan their neighborhoods' future, and by developing energy efficient, affordable and healthy homes, parks, gardens, shared facilities, and more
• trains and educates adults and youth through an alternative high school, vocational center, and family support services
• builds wealth through innovative financial services and loans that help restore credit and increase savings
• promotes healthy living by tackling environmental hazards, fostering energy efficiency, improving open space, and expanding
access to locally grown food
For some families with low and moderate incomes, owning a home builds a bridge to financial success. Isles helps families make informed choices regarding where to live and whether to buy a home. In 2004, Isles developed 84 mixed income town homes at Monument Crossing in Trenton, on the site of abandoned industrial buildings and land left vacant after the '68 riots. Since the 2008 financial crisis, many Trenton homeowners have faced foreclosure. Isles works with families to help them stay in their homes or achieve the best resolution to their problems.
Train and Educate
In Trenton, less than 50% of students graduate from high school. Students drop out for a range of reasons, including the need for income; to care for their own children, siblings, or relatives with disabilities; frustration about their own poor academic skills; the culture of their public school; or substance addiction. Most dropouts face multiple barriers to self-sufficiency. In 1995, Isles began offering education and construction training to these young people. Today, Isles Youth Institute serves youth and families, providing education, vocational training, life skills support, and case management services. Because our approach works, Isles advocates for investing in youth before they enter the prison pipeline.
Isles plans and develops real estate projects including affordable housing, open spaces, and community facilities. Isles works with residents and other stakeholders to create neighborhood master plans. To implement those plans, Isles collaborates with funders, community groups, and public officials to find funding and help manage development projects on the ground. Isles has worked to create regional and statewide organizations that are needed as building blocks for local development. For example, in 1984, Isles identified barriers to financing community development in Trenton and statewide.
Promote Healthy Living
Our early work cleaning up environmental hazards showed us that the most dangerous place for children is their own home. Lead, asthma triggers, and other hazards affect children's health daily. For example, poor housing conditions result in elevated lead levels for thousands of children in Trenton.
In 2000, we began testing homes in Trenton for hazards including lead. Over the next 13 years, Isles trained community members to test more than 2500 homes. Over the same period, Isles launched low-cost approaches to remediate hazards and educate residents on prevention. Based on this experience, Isles leads state and national initiatives related to home health.
Isles evaluates all of its services annually, using quantitative and qualitative data to measure success against two core mission related questions:
• Are participants more self-reliant as a result of Isles' services? Information is derived from focus groups, surveys, participant interviews and anecdotal feedback.
• Are communities healthier? Isles tracks key social, environmental, physical and economic indicators to discern broad health trends.
Isles' work impacts thousands of people each year. Recent highlights include:
1) Facilitating a Healthy Homes for Community Health Workers training course for 465 home visitors and/or supervisors of home visitors through Isles Center for Energy and Environmental Training program.
2) Enrolling 64 students with an approximate retention rate of 70% at Isles Youth Institute, an alternative education option for disengaged students.
3) Providing 249 employees with Isles Financial Solutions and 175 customers with Homeownership/Foreclosure counseling.
4) Managing redevelopment of 11 buildings into two commercial spaces and 24 apartments as well as cleaning and greening five parks and 35 vacant lots.
5) Providing lead, energy, and healthy home rehab and repair to 65 homes, 44 of which had detectable level of lead and were made lead-safe.
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.
as of 10/25/2017
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity at Princeton University
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, Princeton University
Internal Consultant for the Organizational Development and Training Unit of the New Jersey State Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts
Sa Mut Scott
President and CEO, Isles, Inc.
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?
Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?
Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?
Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?
Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?