It Takes a Neighbor to Raise a Village

Organizing Moderate to Low-Income Communities for
Economic Recovery and Sustainability

Written by: Mary Lee Washington

WHAT DO WE DO? Neighborhood Commerce Organizes, Plans, Develops, and Manages neighborhoods for economic growth.
The mission of NCI is to provide moderate to low-income disadvantaged families and individuals throughout America with the tools to develop their own dreams and become a part of the solution to their own economic problems. This campaign will strengthen their abilities to acquire quality housing, build their own community and provide economic development opportunities by creating their own jobs, training, and businesses.
CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW – Founded on Biblical Principles: One people, one heart, one mind in one universe can once again Recover a failing economy as One Voice. It is okay to dream in a failing economy. And Joseph Dreamed a Dream … Genesis 37:5 (King James Bible). Joseph in this Bible story dreamed a dream so big that he was hated and envied by his brothers because it placed him (the youngest brother) in government rule over his family and a nation. However, before he became that government he was rejected, thrown in a pit, imprisoned in a dungeon, enslaved, and broke before he became ruler of an entire kingdom. Then he saved a nation. His faith in God converted poverty and famine to wealth and prosperity for a nation. He planned and provided beyond his ability through the wisdom of God according to Heaven’s economy. He had a dream, God gave him revelation and his dream became reality. What am I saying? I am saying that in the midst of a declining natural economy, God can cause believers to triumph supernaturally. The economic downturn in this country has diminished the already staggering hope of low-income people plagued with political, economical, and social hardships to a mere memory of regular income, friendly get to gathers, and housing. The heart-wrenching losses are shared by citizens all over this country. I am persuaded that one people, one heart, one mind in one universe can once again recover low-income neighborhoods as One Voice.

Let their dreams be realized in the Economic Rebuilding of communities neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house, business by business.. Let all Low-Income Americans come together as one and Organize for Economic Recovery. This Dream Big Plan Proposal outlines how Neighborhood Commerce unites for low-income citizens’ plans to garnish government, corporate, foundational, private and other support to develop a nation-wide coalition to aid in the Relief and Recovery of Low-Income America. Again, Neighborhood Commerce will capture the power of One Voice.

TEAMING-UP: Organizing for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Change in Moderate to Low-Income Neighborhoods

Strategic Planning and Development:Neighborhood by neighborhood like-minded residents, business owners, community centers, schools, churches, small businesses, entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and interested parties collectively organize and develop Strategic Plans for creating jobs, businesses, training programs, and housing programs within their own neighborhoods with immediate, short-term, and long-term goals. This, of course, would include individual goals and projects, detailing progress and needs for expedited completion due to the urgency of recovery.

Connecting with Leadership:Neighborhood Leadership first, Community leaders, Government agencies i.e. Health and Human Services, Workforce Development, HUD programs, civic groups, labor unions and others; they all provide funding opportunities. Neighborhood Commerce will introduce its Mission, Goals, and Outcomes for potential partnerships, funding, and mutual support. Teams collectively will determine the best approach for meeting such leaders.

Recruit Long-Standing Committed Supporters:Participants will invite any and everybody, individuals, organizations, clubs, etc. to join Neighborhood Commerce to create one voice for the same cause – Economic Relief and Rebuilding of Low-Income Families. This model can and will be duplicated throughout this country.

Structure Neighborhood Commerce Participation Regionally in America: Who will rebuild our neighborhoods economically? This is a very important question. It determines the future and possibly the ultimate fate of a culture within a nation itself. Neighborhood Commerce provides an organizational base/home for individuals and their smaller organizations to come to and say, “Please listen to us in your big global meeting rooms regarding our fate in this Beloved Country and people.” Neighborhood Commerce is not only providing an avenue for Americans who want help, but also to the thousands of others who hold the same sentiments as Mary Lee and are praying daily for ways to lend their talents, associations, and expertise to help residents of low-income neighborhoods who are without the connections to help themselves.

1. Develop a Regional Presence for Neighborhood Commerce: Community meetings lead by Neighborhood Commerce trained leaders will be needed starting with the fastest growing communities on Face book, the email database to establish centralized locations for DREAM BIG Change Campaign. This could be someone’s home, office, community center, etc. It really doesn’t matter. As long as there is a local presence where the public can identify as a place where they can be heard and get involved.
2. Organize participants’ ideas for helping: Some may want to build schools, a church, a hospital, help build homes, help plan, whatever their interests are, we want to utilize all to the fullest. People have many good ideas; ways and means that can help get funds for food, clothing, and more that haven’t been tapped into. Neighborhood Commerce will be the catalyst for them. In doing so, not only are we helping them grow financially, they are helping us to grow the USA economy and possibly increase the rate by which USA economy can be restored.
3. Another idea for developing community leadership bases is by partnering with performing arts centers, colleges and universities.
4. Solicit the support of NAACP, Urban League, African American Churches, Jewish Social Services, Catholic Charities, United Way, Salvation Army, Kiwanis Incorporated, and others within the local communities. Ordinary people will be surprised to learn how many of the local chapter organizations are not involved with grass-root organizing for economic change and would be willing to join an organization such as Neighborhood Commerce and help rebuild USA economy.
5. Continue to build change with the input of participants.
6. Much of this can and will lead to the creation of jobs in the U.S., which substantiates donor giving.
Coordinate Volunteers:Neighborhood Commerce state headquarters will partner with its local community outreach programs, social organizations, colleges, and universities to build its volunteer division. There are too many ways for accomplishing this to list now. However, students and participants of community programs are always in need of completing community service work for various reasons. Neighborhood Commerce would announce its needs and volunteers can start helping in the office, and events.

Capital Funding, Fundraising, and Grants:Corporate, Foundations, Endowments, Fundraisers, and Grants are all sources of building capital funds and program funding for just about any type of business or endeavor. Fund-raising events as started would be continued, but cannot sustain a foundation alone. Neighborhood Commerce will utilize grant-writing and applications to givers; primarily federal government grants. Projects and programs are essential to successfully building an organization to attract donors; particularly, endowments and grants.

There are two organizations it may join to develop financial accountability to encourage givers to donate, (1) The Foundation Center, and (2) Charity Navigator. Both are the watchdog leaders in non-profit giving. They can help or they can hurt. They are always watching whether you know it or not. Membership is the absolute best way to benefit the most from these sites. The Foundation Center is No. 1 bar none. It has been established for many years before the computer and provides the most application tools and information on who is giving money and for what purpose. is the site for all government grants and most stimulus fund money.

We will research the top 100 U.S. foundation givers initially to learn their current position for giving to low-income endeavors for economic recovery projects provided by both centers.

We could also help our regional supporters in their projects as joint ventures for funding opportunities.

Timeline:Time is absolutely of an essence. The timeline for engaging these activities would be based on everyone’s availabilities. Time for brainstorming, planning and strategizing should align with the need. Others are not going to stop and wait for those in the trenches. Working with various campaigns have rendered the founder of Neighborhood Commerce an edge on understanding that those that get things done the way they want it done, never ponder, they Just Do It.

One Voice at the Table:Neighborhood Commerce Incorporated is more than an organization; it is a Movement of Change as One Voice.

Conclusion:I want to thank you for the privilege of your time and this opportunity to share portions of my vision for helping to rebuild the economy in moderate to low-income communities.