The Spartanburg Foundation and the Northside Development Group Create Change

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 11:19 am EDT
Mary L. Thomas

Editor's Note: This is part one of a series focusing on the winners of the 2018 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships

The great Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” For 75 years, The Spartanburg County Foundation has embraced the concept of teamwork in order to ensure residents throughout the county can achieve the greatest possible outcomes. As we set our eyes on the win – a community where people from all walks of life are thriving – we understand that partnering together is one of the best ways to effectively work toward reaching the goal of an inclusive and flourishing community. Spartanburg’s Northside is one such example of what can happen when diverse partnerships form to restore a blighted neighborhood for the good of all residents.

The Northside Initiative, led by the Northside Development Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit community development corporation, is an effort to fundamentally transform a 400-acre, once blighted and forgotten neighborhood into a sought-after community of choice. The Northside Development Group and its many community partners have worked and continue to work toward a shared vision. We see opportunities to create a vibrant cradle to career education pipeline, affordable housing options, and a stable, safe, and healthy environment that supports all stages of life through comprehensive social and community services.

From the onset of the project, the Northside Development Group formed public and private partnerships with neighborhood residents, government agencies, local businesses, healthcare organizations, educational institutions and the philanthropic sector – partnerships that continue to remain strong eight years after the project’s initiation. The Spartanburg County Foundation and its donors provided $250,000 in loan capital as early supporters of the Northside Initiative. To date, more than $46 million has been leveraged to support the Northside Initiative, not including the countless hours spent by leaders who have gone above and beyond to ensure our success.

Additionally, the early triumphs within the Northside neighborhood have ignited a new sense of community pride. Once a food desert, the Northside is now home to a popular farmer’s market where residents from the area and beyond visit weekly to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. The community has reported reduced crime, poverty and unemployment rates due to the revitalization effort. Residents have more employment opportunities and access to higher education through partnerships with local institutions of higher learning and large companies. Others are able to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams through unique mentoring programs such as Start: ME Spartanburg.

In 2012, the Northside gained national recognition as a Purpose Built Community. Currently, there are 16 communities throughout the United States who have become a part of the Purpose Built Community network, a national best practice designed to break intergenerational poverty through holistic community revitalization. 

While there is more work to be done, we are honored to play a role in a strong collaboration that is producing significant results. Through teamwork and intelligence, we keep our eyes focused on the people of Spartanburg – working alongside fellow partners to provide opportunity and safety for everyone who calls the Northside neighborhood home.

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Partnerships and Collaborations