Urban Edge in Jackson Square and Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) on Amory Street are national standouts and are held in high-esteem in the non-profit development community, according to Frank Woodruff, director at National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) in Washington, D.C.
NACEDA represents more than 3,000 community development corporations throughout the country. A community development corporation is a non-profit developer and community-organizing group.
“Urban Edge and JPNDC are the cream of the crop for the community development corporations,” he said.
According to Woodruff, community development started in the 1970s in four parts of the country: Boston, New York City, Cleveland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Boston has been the envy of them all, though, because there has been tremendous support for community development in the city, said Woodruff.
“The success of these community organizations—Urban Edge and Jamaica Plain—is the direct result of the cohesiveness, ambition and strength of the neighborhood and its residents,” said Woodruff, who used to work in Boston politics, serving as Sam Yoon’s finance director when he ran for City Council. “The residents of Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain need to be patting themselves on their back. These organizations are only as strong as their residents.”
Woodruff said that Boston, unlike other areas of the country, is strong in the three areas that typically fund community development: government, foundations and financial institutions. He said in some areas, like Alabama, there are not large banks that can provide funding for community development.
“Boston has the environmental advantages and the talent to capitalize,” said Woodruff.
Woodruff noted that Urban Edge and JPNDC are the leaders and innovators in the field, pointing to the Jackson Square area as an example. Urban Edge and JPNDC are partners on redeveloping about 11 acres of private and public land around the Jackson Square T Station. He said the project is being talked about nationally.
“It’s a very challenging project, but the rewards are that much greater,” said Woodruff.