(Photo by Julie Zeglen)
When Urban Creators cofounder Alex Epstein launched a fundraiser to help bring up the next cohort of young leaders at the urban farming and youth development nonprofit last month, the goal was set to $30,000.
A lot of money for a nonprofit that has never tried its hand at crowdfunding before — something that’s tripped up other grassroots nonprofits in the past. That’s why Epstein and company lowered the goal to $20,000. That goal has now been met, thanks to a fundraiser in New York City last weekend.
Epstein is a New York native — plus, the youth organization he helped launch there before moving to Philadelphia, NY2X, is pushing to get North Philly-based Urban Creators to scale to New York. So is Kensington by way of Shift Capital.
All reasons why Epstein and Urban Creators are now upping the ante to $25,000 and beyond. In order to scale anywhere, youth who have been in the program since they were children need to be prepared to run the site in North Philadelphia.
“So many neighborhoods have been accustomed to outsiders coming in to do something good for a really temporary amount of time and then leave,” said Epstein. “We know what works. We’ve been committed to our seven-square block radius for seven years. We transformed four acres of vacant land into highly productive urban farms and spaces for local artists and entrepreneurs to do good work.”
That work, he said, has helped reduce Part 1 crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault by 40 percent. That’s why other neighborhoods want the program — it’s proven to work.
“And the reason it works is because we’ve been so committed to that local context,” he said. “We’re ready to take this model we know works and expand to other neighborhoods. In order for us to have the capacity to expand, we need new leadership in our current space. These young people are it. They’re definitely the ones.”
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