Statement from Laurel Dumont on the Closing of the Center for Collaborative Change

After four rewarding years, the Center for Collaborative Change completed its final projects and closing its doors.
When we started the Center in 2009, we were responding to an opportunity and a need at a unique time in Newark’s history — a moment when change in Newark was happening at a rapid pace but with too few vehicles and opportunities for stakeholders to participate meaningfully in priority-setting, solution design and implementation. The Center set out to test a variety of processes which were difficult for larger organizations to pilot, and became a connector between Newark residents and the institutions that serve them.
Four years later, we have accomplished our two overarching, catalytic objectives: significantly increasing engagement of Newark’s many stakeholders in the process of identifying and responding to the city’s many challenges; and deepening the practice of community engagement by institutions across sectors in Newark.
We are proud that public and private entities have looked to our methods for creating broader and deeper engagement of residents in their decision-making, proud that several key issues that our community-based needs assessments brought forward have become greater priorities for key institutions serving Newark. Meanwhile, our programmatic initiatives have been completed or successfully transferred to others to complete or maintain.
  • The Newark Police Department, with its history of poor community relations, collaborated with us on engaging residents for feedback, then partnered with us on a Summit on Community-Police Relations and is continuing community partnerships to implement best practices discussed there.
  • Partner organizations such as Newark Community Solutions have adopted the Center’s engagement strategy of hiring residents to interview other residents about the needs of the City; the Newark Youth Policy Board and Newark Public Schools School Safety Task Force have commended and plan to build on the Center’s youth-to-youth survey methods and data as well.
  • The PSEG Foundation utilized our Needs Assessment in reviewing its funding portfolio, and has incorporated the Assessment’s findings in its strategic planning process. In the near term, the PSEG Foundation will broaden its focus on safety as a result.
  • The Joseph C. Cornwall Center at Rutgers University has agreed to keep and make available data from our past needs assessment survey. Reports will also continue to be accessible on our website.
Moreover, because we created and secured $28M for Newark’s Strong Healthy Communities Initiative in 2010, today, two thousand Newark school children at three schools have on-site access to medical, dental and behavioral healthcare — and by the end of this upcoming school year, that number will be close to 2,700.
Thank you to our funders, our Board, our dedicated staff, and all of the allies and partners who have helped in our mission to make Newark thrive. Four years later, much work remains. But Newark’s potential is still strong and it is my hope that the Center made — and will continue to make — a significant, lasting contribution to the city’s wellbeing.


The Center’s partners and clients are civic and community leaders representing key voices and institutions within our city. Our beneficiaries are Newark residents. Rather than impose top-down reforms that may have worked in other cities, we work with the Newark community to build systemic change, harnessing the unique assets of our community to meet its unique needs.

The collaborative change model is premised on the idea that if efforts are better designed and aligned to address the city’s most pressing needs, the effects of these investments will multiply, ultimately making Newark thrive.

Take a look at our projects to see  how our approach to Collaborative Change reinforces community assets and capacity to implement collaborative, sustainable solutions to identified community needs. You may look at our work through our:

Our work focuses on the following “pillars of well-being”:  

  • Physical Well-beingSafetyHealth, and Neighborhood Conditions
  • Economic Well-being: Education, Employment, Economy and Youth Development
  • Civic Well-being: Engagement, Empowerment & Trust
  • Institutional Well-being: Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Coordination Across Sectors & Community-Service Institutions

You can also look at our work across our approach strategies:

  • Assess community needs and assets
  • Build solutions through research and innovation
  • Connect ideas, people, and resources to implement these solutions
  • Develop opportunities for civic participation