Educate, Empower, Employ

Organization Name:
Neighbors Link
City & State:
Describe your creative piece – what is it and what has it been used for, and why is it innovative?
"Educate, Empower, Employ" is Neighbors Link's most recent annual report (published in November 2009 w/information about our 2008 fiscal year). It is an informational, marketing and fundraising vehicle that tells the story of Neighbors Link – a community center for recent immigrants. The book allows the reader to experience the organization by focusing on the images of those who come together under its roof each day. It is innovative because it tells the story of people who typically live in the shadows – extraordinary individuals who have accomplished extraordinary things in the face of enormous obstacles. It champions the men, women and children of the families we serve – people who are often scorned, despised and even criminalized in communities throughout this country. The piece also reveals a community that, once polarized, has transitioned into a true model of immigrant integration – key to the mission of Neighbors Link.
What issue or problem were you working to address with this piece?
Neighbors Link is now recognized as a national model for addressing the realities of immigration in peaceful and positive ways. We are continually approached by communities – across the region and across the country – that are grappling with the many issues surrounding marginalized immigrant populations. We needed to create a piece that would portray the positive experience of our community and the cultural exchange and education that takes place at Neighbors Link each day. Viewing integration as a two-way street, we believe that informing long-term residents about the challenges of starting life in a new country is equally important to our mission as educating the immigrant community about their new culture. When Neighbors Link brings volunteer tutors and English learners together, the experience transcends the classroom. We believe that the images in this document reveal that.
How has your submission successfully impacted your organization’s ability to solve this issue/problem?
Resistance and intolerance comes from a place of fear and ignorance. Putting a human face on a controversial issue changes hearts and minds, and diminishes hate and hostility. We believe this report enlightens the non-immigrant community about immigrant familiestruggling to build a better life. We also believe it puts a very human face on this story. The response to the piece has been significant. While we raised $25 in donations from our last annual report, we raised $20,000 from this one, and feedback from the community and beyond has been overwhelmingly positive. As we seriously begin to explore the possibility of replicating our center in other communities and even other states, this report has been invaluable in telling the story of Neighbors Link and inspiring others to believe that the transformation of entire communities is possible.