The “I Love Greenville Community Plan” is a revitalization initiative established to improve economic development, education, and the overall quality of life for Greenville residents. Overseen by the Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC), the plan was designed hand-in-hand with more than 500 local residents and stakeholders. Built upon these voices, the plan outlines a comprehensive strategy to alleviate preexisting issues within the community through collaborative and organizational programs.
To generate funding for these programs, the plan was developed for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA) Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program. Through this investment-generating mechanism, the GSECDC attracted four local businesses (Dixon Advisory USA, M&T Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and Sealy Mattress Co.) to earmark a portion of their state tax dollars towards the “I Love Greenville Community Plan.”
To date, the funding has been a tremendous success with a staggering $930,920 raised this past year through corporate participation. This massive increase in funding has helped to expand and empower a variety of impactful programs that center on the enrichment of Greenville and its community.
The Honey Bees Double-Dutch team is one of the many programs that has benefited from this increase in funding. Founded in 2015, in the heart of Greenville at Audubon Park, this program provides local youth with academic support and team-building experience through double-dutch. Takeria Clark, the co-founder and “Queen Bee” as she’s referred to by her peers, describes the program, “It’s a safe haven for the bees to swarm and exposes Greenville youth to something better.”
Over the past two years, the program has grown rapidly with the joint support of the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County. Currently, 70 participants are on the roster and 45 travel to compete as this number continues to grow. Last year, the Honey Bees won the 25th Holiday Classic National Double-Dutch Championship Tournament, which was held at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem, Manhattan. This June, the Honey Bees will be competing in the 44th American Double Dutch League World Championship in Sumpter, South Carolina.
As a twofold program, academic support is just as much a part of the Honey Bees as double-dutch. As Clark explains, “We want every child to be well rounded.” Participants engage in mandatory study hall, receive tutoring from certified teaching assistants, and learn the value of earning strong grades as a prerequisite to being a part of the double-dutch team.
Gary Greenberg, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hudson County, describes the Honey Bees as a character development program stating, “Takeria is truly a positive force in the community, attracting young people to her program wherever she goes. The Honey Bees helps to develop physical fitness and so much more. It develops meaningful relationships, the importance of responsibility, teamwork, and a positive self-image.”
With an increase in funding from participating local businesses, Clark and the Honey Bees are expanding to establish a new satellite afterschool program at P.S. 41 in Greenville. This will allow eager students to join and train whom otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity.
In Clark’s words, “this is a blessing.” As the “I Love Greenville Community Plan” continues to grow through the support of local businesses, the Honey Bees will continue to grow as well, pollinating new communities with the ultimate goal of one day expanding the program on a national scale.
For more information on the “I Love Greenville Community Plan,” please visit GSECDC’s website.