Each month, the Office of Civic & Community Engagement (OCCE) profiles a community partner and its relationship with Wake Forest University. For the month of December, the OCCE is proud to feature Tembila Covington, Asset-Based Community Development Coordinator of Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (NBN).
Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods connects people, strengthens voices, and leverages resources in order to help create safe, just and, self-determined neighborhoods for all residents.
Tembila Covington, Asset-Based Community Development Coordinator of Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods
Could you explain the origin of Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, and how it impacts the Winston-Salem community?
Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods was established in 1990. It started as a few community members that came together from underserved communities that wanted to galvanize the efforts of their community organizing and networking abilities, but also to bring resources into the community. Specifically, developing resources for both the individuals and the community itself.
Those leaders began to work towards creating what is now Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods through an effort to support one another – neighbor to neighbor – and to galvanize social, economic, and talent capital.
With that in mind, Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods has developed into a nonprofit organization that uses the Asset-Based Community Development, or ABCD model. That ABCD strategy informs our three-pronged mission of connecting people, strengthening voices of community members, and leveraging resources. We use this three-pronged approach within the ABCD model to be sure that we are empowering and strengthening residents to become leaders and to build on the talents, skills, and resources that are within the community so that it can thrive.
How does the partnership with Wake Forest help Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods?
Our relationship with Wake Forest has been strongest through the Winston-Salem Community Action Coalition (WSCAC). Having VISTA members come in and help us build a technological infrastructure for our office has been a great asset.
It’s been incredibly helpful to have that foundational infrastructure in place, especially since transitioning to a more virtual space today, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re grateful for the support that being part of the WSCAC has provided for us as an organization so that we can continue to support the community members at a larger capacity.
If you had 30 seconds to tell someone about Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, what would you want them to know?
Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods is a grassroots nonprofit organization, meaning that we work from within the community, outward. Rather than trying to build infrastructure from the outside and bring it into the community, we build from the inside out by utilizing the strengths of the community itself.
How can people get involved with and support Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods?
Our main program at Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods is the Resident Leader program.
Through the Resident Leader program, NBN assists in identifying residents interested in becoming community leaders in the Place Matters communities – 13 primarily black and brown communities listed as socially and economically under-resourced – to give them an opportunity to go through orientation and learn how to better communicate and connect with fellow resident leaders.
NBN also provides training on racial equity and the principles of the ABCD model, which allows outside organizations and individuals to connect with our work and learn from NBN directly. It helps those organizations to engage in cultural introspection and learn more about how to connect with the communities NBN engages with daily.
Are there any upcoming events with Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods that you would like the community to know about?
NBN has an upcoming ‘REI Groundwater Racial Equity Training’ on December 10th from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Registration is $100.00 for an individual with a student price at $85.00. Individuals can register online here.
In addition, NBN has a ‘Principles of Asset-Based Community Development’ training on December 11th from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Registration is $32.50 until Tuesday, December 8, at which point the price increases to $65.00. Generally, trainings are held in person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all trainings have transitioned to a virtual format and are offered online. Register to attend the community development training here.
NBN also has an Organizers’ Circle every Tuesday on Facebook Live where guest presenters are brought in every week to talk about issues faced by the communities that NBN serves. Folks can tune in live and ask questions in the comments or go back and watch previous videos.
There is a community engagement online platform that is currently in development, which will allow individuals to connect with and learn more about individual communities. It will not only be an overarching look at what we do, but it will be a way to look at the landscape of specific communities of interest. We’re very excited and hope to launch the platform soon. More information can be found on the NBN website.
Written by: Ria Matheson (’20), OCCE AmeriCorps*VISTA
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