Isles, Inc. 

September News from Isles

September at Isles
Isles Youth Institute Update
Duran's Story
Isles Event Calendar



Board of Trustees

Steven Goodell

Ann Marie Senior

Liz Erickson

Manish Shah

Tom Byrne

Barbara Coe

Michael Dundas

Robert Harris

Karen Hernandez

Jacque Howard

Sa Mut Scott

Francis Blanco

Stuart Essig

Michele Minter

Oye Olukotun

Thanks for your

service to Isles!


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We face many challenges in the Trenton region that directly link to each other:  high unemployment, soaring dropout rates, record homicides, expensive police and prison costs, fractured communities, and more.  In 1995, Isles organized an innovative response to these threats and called it Isles YouthBuild Institute - until now.  With the introduction of YouthCorps and family based services, we changed the name to Isles Youth Institute (IYI).  Since its inception, we have offered 900+ high school dropouts the chance to earn a diploma, obtain vital life skills, learn construction basics, and rebuild vacant homes and open spaces in their own communities.
This fall, IYI is in an exciting phase of growth and transition, so this newsletter highlights that part of Isles which targets challenged youth and their families.  Let us know what you think.  Really.
In community, 
Marty Johnson
IYI students are ready to distribute backpacks and school supplies at Hedgepeth Williams Elementary School in Trenton

Isles Youth Institute Update!


Because Isles Youth Institute (IYI) is not just a school, students can access a whole range of other self-help services that Isles offers adults - agriculture, planning and development, green job training, wealth creation, etc.  As a result, IYI is a very unusual and interesting place - especially for students who have failed in typical school settings.


As one might imagine, a constant concern for us is how this should get funded.  Research is helping us understand how expensive it would be if we did not exist.  The costs of dropouts, arrests, crime, and prison are extraordinary.  But who should pay for this solution - Department of Education?  Criminal Justice?  Department of Labor?  Or Community Affairs?  We have thoughts about this, but the government still hasn't figured it out.


Innovation often lies at the intersection of specialties, and IYI is no exception.  It is a school, a training center, a labor source for community revitalization projects providing jobs for youth, and a safe community center.  Together, these elements forge a powerful place and bundle of resources for today's youth.


As the business model continues to evolve as we learn, this fall we are expanding IYI in four key areas:

  • exploring the potential to become a non-charter, diploma-granting institution (beyond a GED)
  • expanding services to students' families
  • applying new YouthCorps resources to expand community service projects and hands-on job training to more students than ever, and
  • supporting students who seek to create their own businesses, with support from the College of New Jersey business accounting students

IYI will be open year round, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., including some weekends.  Mentors and students will be matched, and we expect that both will gain much from a year-long relationship.  Safe passage to and from school is provided, and learning will be project-based, and in teams.  Most importantly, young people who have been exposed to extraordinary challenges that would cripple most of us as adults will have a real chance to succeed.


Click to see more photos of IYI students distributing backpacks at Hedgepeth Williams Elementary School in the Times of Trenton


Duran's Story
Duran Webster dense-packing a wall with cellulose insulation
Duran Webster graduated from Isles YouthBuild Institute in 2002.  He had recently emigrated from Jamaica and faced many challenges when he started his new life in Trenton.  Duran was a hard worker and succeeded in achieving his high school diploma.   After graduation he found construction work rehabilitating low-income housing.  Due to the recession, Duran lost his job.
Andre Thomas, Training Manager at Isles Center for Energy and Environmental Training (CEET), and former Operations Manager for Isles YouthBuild Institute, met Duran at an event and told him about CEET's training opportunities.  Specifically, he mentioned the generous SESP grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  Duran signed up immediately for the Residential Building Envelope-Whole House Air Leakage Control Installer class.  He gained valuable knowledge of Building Science and the skills to properly air seal and insulate homes to make them more energy efficient.


Around the time of Duran's enrollment in CEET's class, Andre received a call from Darren Doty, a former CEET student currently working as a Production Manager for Masco Contractor Services. Masco was looking to hire BPI trained and certified technicians, and Darren immediately looked to CEET, where he received his BPI training (also funded by a SESP grant).  Andre recommended Duran for the position, and Masco agreed.  He began work in June as a Field Technician. 


Isles congratulates Duran for his hard work, positive attitude, and determination.  We're proud to count him among IYI alumni!  


Check the Community Events Calendar to register for upcoming events!

Sign up for the Isles Haunted Harvest 5k on October 26th at Washington Crossing State Park. Click here for details and to register.

Haunted Harvest 5k 
Isles, Inc.
10 Wood Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08618