Best Practices - Vol. IV

Mayor Sharpe James


"Do Something" was strategically designed to help develop a sense of ownership, self empowerment, leadership and responsibility among Newark residents, to effect change and make Newark a highly livable city. One way to accomplish this is through a four-step approach which includes: 1) a 12-week Leadership Development course for residents that will train them in positive approach, problem solving and neighborhood development,help them establish a common vision for what Newark can be, and encourage them to work to make it happen; 2) a $500 grant program that supports individual projects and assists individuals in making their own ideas to improve Newark happen if they are supportive of the shared vision; 3) a Leadership Curriculum in conjunction with the public schools for Kindergarten to Eighth Grade students that focuses on leadership and character; and 4) a Community Coach Network that partners with several public schools in implementing an after-school program to focus, in an innovative way, on academics and neighborhood development, and which encompasses recreational activities.

In 1994, Do Something began working with only eight young people. In 1995, Do Something involved 400 young people and adults. At the close of 1996, Do Something had 1,300 young people and adults. In 1997, the program is expecting to double, possibly triple.

The focus in Newark is on accentuating the positive and releasing the potential that lies within the community that will create change. The Newark Do Something Fund was created in January 1994 with a core group of 22 young Newark leaders who held the belief that many people want to make things better but lack the support and direction to channel their ideas and abilities toward positive acts. Instead of keeping in step with tradition and directing attention toward programs that focus on those who have already succumbed to the ills of society, the Newark group wanted to focus on the many more men, women, children and families who have potential, ability and the desire to engage in positive and pro-active activities. They have discovered, or rather, confirmed, that there are more people in Newark who truly want to change things for the better and have the ability to do so when there is a concerted effort, a strategic plan, commitment and leadership. This philosophy is the driving force behind Do Something, and officials believe that through the program the people of Newark will realize that the power to effect change and hold support services accountable is in their hands.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (201) 733-6400

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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