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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Isles, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Homeless & Housing, Housing Rehabilitation

Mission:

Founded in 1981 by students and faculty of Princeton University, Isles is an award-winning community development and environmental nonprofit organization. Isles’ mission is to foster self-reliant families in healthy, sustainable communities.

 

Isles is known for its comprehensive approach to complex community challenges, offering services such as:

  • Green job training
  • Green real estate development
  • Community gardening
  • Homebuyer education
  • Foreclosure prevention counseling
  • Community planning
  • Youth training and education
  • Micro-business loans
  • Environmental education and remediation

 

To broaden its impact, Isles develops easily replicable approaches to community development. Isles works with hundreds of public, private, and academic partners to achieve innovative, cost-effective ways to accomplish its mission. In addition to community-based development services, Isles works to change regional and statewide policies that concentrate poverty, undermine schools, promote sprawl, and foster racial segregation.

Geographic areas served: Trenton, NJ

Programs:

Isles’ Center for Energy and Environmental Training collaborates with private industry, labor, state and local government, higher education, and community-based organizations to train New Jersey residents for green jobs that improve the environment and stimulate the economy. Training is available for community members seeking entry-level positions in green careers, workers wishing to advance their skills and certifications, and employers seeking customized training for their employees.

Community Stories

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

There are many non-profits in our area, but few have touched as many as ISLES. Their commitment to Trenton and its residents does in fact build self-reliance...over and over again. ISLES should be on the donation list of every family and business in Mercer County.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Isles has been a leader for over thirty years in providing pathways to better, more sustainable lives to many under served residents of Trenton. They create gardens, housing and jobs while also providing the necessary guidance to assure that folks will be able to sustain their stability.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I came to ISLES for BPI Energy Auditor and Installer training. I really enjoy and benefit from the knowledgeable instructors, resourceful labs and friendly and helpful staffs. Lessons were presented clearly, class exercises were carefully design to illustrate the essence, and instructors were well-qualified and prepared for the classes. This is a great place to learn and I highly recommend ISLES for anyone looking for energy efficiency training.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am fortunate to be from the immediate area of the organizations concentrated geographic focus. Therefore I have seen several of the accomplishments and the impact on the community. When asked to be a member of the board I can trully say I was over joyed and humbled. I look to supporting isles organization for many years.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The training facility and the instructors were top notch. I had a wonderful experience and would highly recommend Isles to anyone who would like a chance to start or further a career in energy efficiency.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It is hard to know who benefits more from an affiliation with Isles -- its clients, staff, board, community, partners, donors, advisors, city? Isles asks tough questions of itself, its clients, collaborators, others. It does not rest on its laurels and it tries not to "count" accomplishments or accept them them as reflective of success. The constant Isles question is "so what?" It is not a disrespectful question, but rather a way of honoring its mission and values, clients and donors, of gauging progress and keeping itself on its toes, humble, transparent, earthy, creative, hard-working and working-smart. Isles did not just choose a well-worded mission -- it lives by it.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement at The College of New Jersey has worked with Isles for several years in different capacities. They are able to host a Bonner Team who works closely with their Youth Build Program. We've also worked with their Environment and Community Health program in different activities, from helping them with their garden, to Isles staff providing professional advice for our garden on campus. Just last week, the Marty, the Executive Director of Isles visited the campus and shared his experiences with a group of 30 students or so. Isles is comprehensive and an integral part of Trenton.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with Isles was such a rewarding experience! The organization takes a very holistic approach to community development. They also don't impose on any of the community members, and the community members become involved in the organization by their own choosing, which helps make Isles' change long lasting. One of my favorite aspects of working with Isles was being able to work with the YouthBuild students. The students truly inspired me in their hard work and dedication, and their creativity and kindness. Another strong point about Isles is that it brings a broader awareness to the struggles of Trenton residents. Although Princeton is only 8 miles from the state capital, people so quickly forget the struggles of their neighbors when they don't see them first hand. Isles does a great job at raising awareness to the impact of poverty and food security, among other things, to this broader Mercer County community. I strongly believe in Isles' mission, and think that they have been able to bring about such positive impact on Trenton and its community.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My volunteer experience with Isles provides me with many opportunities to learn about the organization and the community served. Every staff person I have interacted with is committed to the mission, talented, and generous. It is a diverse group of really good people who know how to do their jobs, and that creates a dynamic environment. I feel like the work I do is recognized and that I am helping the community.

Review from Guidestar

Sally32

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've known about, watched and participated with Isles over decades and remain deeply impressed by the organization. Isles empowers families in this city through many different programs and in many ways. A single mother of four I worked with became a first-time homeowner through Isles, changing her life and that of her children. I've seen kids who never succeeded at much of anything graduate from YouthBuild with purpose and new confidence. I've visited gardens created out of abandoned stretches and seen what a difference they make to those who farm them. Isles has been a champion of fostering self-reliance in an urban environment where nurturing isn't the norm. Bless them.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Isles YouthBuild Institute Hosted an Image is Power workshop to show some of the success the school has accomplished in the community. At the workshop, we talked about volunteer work students participated in, gardening, construction in the community, litter marches, and other Isles events. Students have shown the community and the organization that there is a positive part in Trenton that will be successful. Students are showing some of the life skills and different leadership skills that students learned and can use in the future. The program has graduated many that have went on to college, also some who have went on to receive better career opportunities and have improved their lives.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been a learning experience and a pleasure to serve at Isles. This organization is like none I've ever worked with and I have over 10 years of experience with nonprofit organizations as an employee and a volunteer because their work directly serves the community and helps empowers people in a way I have been able to participate in and witness. I have not really seen this type of impact in other organizations that I've worked with. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and professional and the work I was able to participate in various meaningful projects in several issue areas (community gardening, lead testing and education, health and fitness initiatives for children). I look forward to working with Isles in their future endeavors and will continue to get my friends involved as well.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

Isles is an extraordinary organization. For more than 30 years Isles has shown steadfast commitment to its mission "to foster more self-reliant families in healthy, sustainable communities". All the while continously and innovatively evolving its services to respond to community needs. Today, Isles offers services that help people build tangible assets like a home, a job, and financial savings -- as well as intangible assets like education, a healthy environment, personal health, community leadership, and hope for the future. The staff of Isles are amazing. And their work is, I believe, deeply important -- now more than ever.


8

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was an immersive experience that created a superior learning enviroment. The staff was available and attentive. I plan on having an ongoing relationship with Isles. A positive experience in a trying time.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

I consider myself very lucky to have found Isles CEET. The staff and the facility is top notch. They truly care about the people that they help. Is not just a place to take classes about the environment and energy. I consider them my friends. Great place! Great people!

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

I completed several energy courses at Isles CEET. Everyone there is knowledgeable and very helpful. They offered me guidence and training needed to start a new career in the Green Jobs industry. I consider them my friends. Thank you Isles

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

I found out about the CEET program through a continuing education class that I was attending at Mercer County Community College. I had lost my job as a carpenter and was in the process of retraining myself in the the field of alternative energy. I sent my resume to Dr. Oswald on a Friday and she contacted me on Monday to set up an interview for a training course that she thought would benefit me. She was absolutely correct, the course in Building Analyst and Energy Auditing drew on my skills as a builder and connected them to my new interest in energy efficiency. the training course was fantastic, It was well organized and the instructor was very knowledgeable and the Isles staff were very supportive. I was able to complete the training, and with their continued help and support I was able to obtain my BPI Certification. I am now confident that I will soon be reentering the workforce with my new skill set. Recently I was contacted by the staff at Isles about additional training to comply with the new EPA guidelines for contractors. It is this kind of follow through that makes me so appreciative of the CEET program and Dr. Oswald and the staff at Isles. I can honestly say that my experience at Isles has been 100% positive and I feel that I would do anything for them to repay all they have done on my behalf.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went through the Isles/CEET Program late last year. I thought it was an excellent program and provided an excellent learnign opportunity for me. The trainers were always on-hand, pleasant, and helpful. Thank you CEET!

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience at the YouthBuild Institute has been life changing. Not only has Isles helped me grow to be an understanding mother but an outstanding person. It help me understand and focus on things that I really wanted to do with myself, like go back to school and get a job. They gave me a drive to get back there. Thanks to Isles I'm pushing for me.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

For four years I have been involved with Isles, Inc. I started my journey with Isles back in 2006, as a Youthbuild trainee. I graduated from the program in 2007. After I graduated, endless opportunities came my way. Isles helped me attain many certifications, such as, OSHA, First Aid, and CPR, which would attract even the most guilded employers. As two years have passed, I've became such a well versed person in the Isles community. Being that I had so much passion for the organization, they gave me an internship that would give me a chance to broaden my horizon to many more life commencement skills. So it is now 2010, and I am still here at Isles working part-time. I don't know when this journey will end, but it doesn't matter, because I know when it does end, Isles will still be here to help other youth just as they did with me.