Community Improvement, Capacity Building

Isles, Inc.

Trenton, NJ


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.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Martin Johnson

Main Address

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,





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

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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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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

Isles' Youth Institute

Isles Community Enterprises

Community Planning and Development and Urban Agriculture

Environmental Health

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Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

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What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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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

Build Wealth
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.

Revitalize Communities
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.

External Reviews


Isles, Inc.

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

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Board Leadership Practices

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?