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Community Organization NC3's Closure a 'Huge Loss' to Louisville, Former Participant Says

Keishanna Hughes would be "lost" had Network Center for Community Change staff members never knocked on the door of her Sheppard Square home.“I would probably be somewhere in the projects feeling like a mother that had no chance because I didn’t know where to get the support from," she said.The Network Center for Community Chance, a community organizing group based in downtown Louisville better known as NC3, provided Collins advice and support, giving her a path she needed to earn an education and find a job. Today, Hughes is a program director for St. George Community Center.“NC3 has been very vital to my life,” she said.  “It has changed my life.”On Thursday, NC3 announced thatfinancial woes were forcing the organizationto close on July 11.NC3 began working in the community in 2005. Since then, more than 5,000 residents have partnered with the organization to provide educational resources and equity services to residents of Louisville’s urban neighborhoods, NC3 executive director Dana Jackson“We have supported persistently low-achieving schools and closing the academic gap,” Jackson said. “We have sent many, many kids to college prepared.”In recent years, NC3 organized programs to help young people learn leadership and to help at-risk youth graduate high school. The organization also dispersed college supplies to recent high-school graduates.She said 97 percent of the students NC3 works with graduate from high school.Jackson said much of what the Network does won't show up on a data report. For example, the group walked the Smoketown neighborhood and mapped the vacant properties in an effort to provide a more honest depiction of the issue. (A disclosure: NC3 also partnered with WFPL to survey households in certain West End neighborhoods about parent engagement and education issues.)NC3 also hosted Network Nites were community members and the group's partners shared meals together, along with news about their lives and opportunities they could pursue, according to the organization. “It’s the personal efficacy, allowing people to act on making impacts in their community,” she said.Fighting back tears, Jackson said she wished NC3 had more time.“We did what we knew to do and we did those things that we could do,” she said.Jackson said NC3’s nearly $670,000 budget was “right around 80 percent funded” for this year.“Just because it is 80 percent funded, doesn’t mean you get through 80 percent of the year,” she said.A majority of the funding comes through grants, she said.  Most of what’s left is collected through fundraising. For the upcoming fiscal year, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's proposed budget allotted $33,200 to NC3. A spokesman for the mayor said NC3 did “a lot of great work” and that it's “unfortunate” the organization is shutting down.Khalila Collins has participated in social engagement training through NC3.  “This is a huge loss to our city, but I do think that they have done amazing ground work that will continue on once they close their doors,” said Collins, who is now the executive director of PACT In Action.Collins, along with Jackson, have faith that the impact NC3 has had on its partners and residents is something that will not end when the doors shut.“We didn’t run out or work or commitment, we ran out of money,” Jackson said. 

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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