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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


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


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

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been incredibly impressed with Isles. In everything they do, they are committed not only to helping people get on their feet, but in doing so by fostering in people the skills and resources that are needed to succeed over the long-term. This model of sustainable self-reliance is surprisingly radical, and incredibly effective.


Board Member

Rating: 5

Before joining the Isles Board I heard of its great reputation and was very impressed by its long-term committment to the city of Trenton. I have been involved in Isles' Spirit Walk Intiative since its inception. Isles know how to bring out the best in people and institutions. The church I serve Westminster Presbyterian has been encouraged and inspired to particate faithfully in Spirit Walk because Isles had awarded us 3 times. I have witnessed first hand Isles committment to promoting sustainability and their cutting edge role in the expanding Green Economy.


Board Member

Rating: 5

Isles works to build self-sufficient families in healthy and sustainble communities in Central New Jersey (mostly Trenton) with integrated programs ranging from green homes initiatives, to community gardens, to financial self-reliance. They are starting one of the largest green collar training programs in the country and are renovating an old mill into a LEED platinum showcase for sustainable urban living and working. It's hard to review one piece of Isles' work since it is so well integrated.