There is a lot of value to investing in your community as well as many ways to do it. You might invest your money in different ways, your time by doing volunteer work, spending your energy working together with other community members and local organizations as well as working for, with and also against local government to get things done or to stop them.
Following are some of our suggestions to get you started thinking about the type of investment(s) you might want to make in your community.
One of the simplest ways to get involved in your community is through your neighborhood block association. Check with your community board to find out how to contact your local block association, if one already exists. If there is no block association in your neighborhood and you are inclined to start one, the Citizens Committee for New York City, a one-stop resource intended to “bring neighbors together to work on issues that matter to [them]” has a PDF guide about the steps to take to do so. Additionally, through a community map on the organization’s website, you can find out what issues your community is already working on.
One popular NYC program, Love Your Block, a special partnership between NYC Service and Citizens Committee for New York City, provides the opportunity for NYC residents to beautify their neighborhoods while potentially receiving a $1000 grant to assist with transforming one city block.
596 Acres is a community land access advocacy organization that “champions resident stewardship of land to build more just and equitable cities.” The Acres supports residents who maintain vacant parcels of city-owned land as community gardens, or want to begin that process. The organization has built some online advocacy tools: Living Lots, Urban Reviewer, and NYCommons, to encourage and assist residents in doing their work in their communities.
Business Improvement Districts, or BIDs, are also a great way to find out what is happening in your neighborhood and become involved in your local community. The NYC BID Association has a directory of local BIDS in NYC. Many BIDs host neighborhood events that are open to the public. Check in to locate your neighborhood BID and find out what’s going on in your part of the urban jungle.
If you are a highly skilled person with specialized knowledge and experience, you might consider becoming involved with The New York City Economic Development Corp. NYCEDC is an organization helping to build strong neighborhoods and create jobs. The organization is comprised of teams of “skilled individuals with know-how and expertise across many fields including community/neighborhood development, workforce development, real estate, industry and sector analysis, design, urban planning, marketing, engineering, financial analysis, and more” who are committed to contributing to NYC’s growth. Throwing your professional weight behind your neighborhood is an excellent way to start investing in your community.
Buy local. No, it’s not a gimmicky slogan, but rather a choice to invest your spending dollars in your community. As often as possible frequent local independent businesses, get to know the owners, employees and other representatives of the local business scene. You will be helping to boost the local economy, which is also in your interest as a community member. Made in NYC has a database to help find locally made products in various sectors.
Volunteering is an awesome way to invest in your community. With opportunities ranging from tutoring local high school students and mentoring start-ups to coaching a local basketball team and teaching resident’s financial literacy, you can choose to serve your community in significant ways. Find out where the greatest need is, or other opportunities that meet your interests through NYC Service, a city agency promoting volunteerism and engaging New Yorkers in service of the city and its residents.
The New York City Board of Elections is always looking for Poll Workers for local and national elections. And, the job pays! You’ll need to fill out an application, and, if chosen, attend a paid training and pass a test to become a certified poll worker.
Let us know if you’ve had a great experience with other community opportunities.