Brownsville Illustration: Brownsville community leaders Illustration: Brownsville community leaders Illustration: Brownsville community leaders Illustration: Brownsville community leaders
Community

Developing Global & Local Communities

Brownsville: Revitalizing a Community, One Person at a Time

From the Ground up A Five Part Series

The neighborhood of Brownsville, in Brooklyn, N.Y., is home to nearly 60,000 people in an area of barely more than one square mile. Most of them live in 22 public housing complexes. It has one of the highest crime rates in New York City.

While gentrification transforms other parts of Brooklyn, community leaders say this is the time to turn Brownsville around from the inside. They're working hard to do that through everything from justice-system reforms to incubating new businesses to an innovative school that gained worldwide attention when a photographer met one of its students.

In this five-part series, we look at the community leaders behind these efforts and what they're accomplishing as they work to revitalize a community from the ground up.

Erica Mateo

PART ONE: RETHINKING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Erica Mateo returned to Brownsville after college and leads the Community Justice Center, diverting young offenders from the courts into the nurturing hands of their peers.

Erica Mateo

PART TWO: JOB SKILLS BRING HOPE AND COMMUNITY TIES

The Made in Brownsville initiative turns lives around by teaching vocational skills and helping younger people develop a vision for the neighborhood's future.

Erica Mateo

PART THREE: INVESTING IN BROWNSVILLE BY BACKING ENTREPRENEURS

When the Dream Big Foundation decided to focus on an underserved community, Brownsville gained a new bakery and an incubator for additional startups.

Erica Mateo

PART FOUR: BOY'S STORY LAUNCHES A VIRAL SENSATION

When the photographer behind Humans of New York met a boy named Vidal in Brownsville, it started a story heard from Harvard to the White House.

Greg Jackson

PART FIVE: HOW ONE BIG MAN MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE

After playing basketball in college and a year in the pros, Greg Jackson played a pivotal role in the lives of Brownsville kids for decades.

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