Building a Community Within a Community.
To facilitate the revitalization of a healthy, sustainable, mixed-income community in the Highlander neighborhood. We work to break the cycle of poverty and community deterioration by partnering to create high-quality housing, thriving schools, recreational facilities and other neighborhood enrichment amenities.
Seventy Five North works to convene community members, educational partners, and the philanthropic community to lead the transformation of the Highlander neighborhood. We use a community revitalization model pioneered from Purpose Built Communities that uses a three-pronged approach:
Cradle-To-College educational Pipeline
Neighborhood transformation cannot be authentic or sustainable without an education system that fully prepares children. In 2015, Seventy Five North entered into a groundbreaking ten-year agreement with Omaha Public Schools to reconstitute the adjacent Howard Kennedy Elementary School from top to bottom and implement strategies proven to work in low-performing, high poverty schools. The agreed upon educational model is grounded in higher expectations, rigorous material and instruction, additional staff, a longer school day and school year, and finally, a strong institutional leader with a demonstrated history of leading teachers and students to high levels of success.
Community development is trending away from the construction of communities composed entirely of low-income and subsidized housing and towards those intentionally created with a significant amount of economic diversity. These neighborhoods show a greater level of resilience and resistance to community decay. Our plan calls for the construction of over 200 units of rental housing which will be split among low-income, moderate-income and market rate apartments. Additionally, homeownership opportunities will exist for families at all income levels as the project matures.
Community Health and Wellness
Seventy Five North seeks to create an environment that is conducive to residents’ ability to live full and enriched lives. We want to bring opportunities to the neighborhood that may not have been options until now. High quality, innovative programming focusing on entrepreneurship, technology, art and music has largely been missing from Highlander. We’ve created partnerships with Creighton University, Metropolitan Community College, AIM Institute, and Whispering Roots to bring programming in the areas of health and wellness, higher education and technology to the neighborhood. The hub of these activities and partnerships are located in Highlander Accelerator - a 65,000 square foot building.
How It Began
For more than a decade numerous surveys, studies, meetings and other community engagement activities have been conducted with members of the Omaha community. This extensive research provided a fairly comprehensive understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that exist in North Omaha.
While a lot of great research, ideas and intentions surfaced through these studies, no concerted action had been taken. Meanwhile, neighborhoods were continuing to deteriorate; neighbors were becoming disillusioned; Omaha was missing out on what could be. And no organization existed with the sole purpose of implementing these findings and strategies.
Seventy Five North felt that a single-mindedness of mission was critical to the success of any redevelopment effort in North Omaha. Given the stubborn nature of generational poverty and neighborhood decline, this project couldn’t be an offshoot of an existing organization designed to serve a variety of needs. This project had to be the reason the organization existed in the first place.
And so, Seventy Five North was born. Borrowing heavily from the model by Purpose Built Communities, we created a nonprofit – yes, a 501(c)(3) – as an entity to drive the redevelopment of the Highlander neighborhood in North Omaha.
WHY THE HIGHLANDER NEIGHBORHOOD?
The 2009 demolition of Pleasantview Homes – a 300-unit public housing project in the Highlander neighborhood – opened up 23 acres of contiguous land less than a mile from downtown Omaha and its emerging midtown area. It was a unique real estate opportunity with the potential for enormous community impact.
The community surrounding Pleasantview homes had begun to deteriorate leaving wide swaths of vacant land and condemned homes in the Highlander neighborhood. As disconcerting as these conditions were, they also represented opportunity. It meant the decaying housing and vacant lots surrounding Pleasantview could be acquired at reasonable prices, which would allow for development to take place at a greater scale. By the end of 2012, Seventy Five North owned 36 acres of contiguous land and an additional 55 lots surrounding the former Pleasantview site.
Long standing community stakeholders have been in this neighborhood for years, doing the type of work that could only buttress the efforts of Seventy Five North. Strong partners and neighbors such as such as the Urban League of Nebraska, Charles Drew Health Center, and Salem Baptist Church meant the project would have a much greater chance of achieving long-term success.
Highway 75 provides quick and convenient access to major highways, downtown and the airport. And it became the inspiration for our name.