Creating an event space with a growing Jewish community in Harlem
New Yorkers know that no neighborhood is immune to change. Buildings are torn down, lots are filled in and restaurants come and go. In addition to new housing and businesses, Harlem is increasingly popular among Jews looking for more affordable homes, proximity to large parks, easy commutes downtown and a public dual-language Hebrew school. Given this demographic shift and the JCC-Manhattan’s mission of working with communities to “connect, grow, and learn with an ever-changing Jewish landscape,” it was time to create a space supporting Harlem’s growing, diverse Jewish community.
But its leadership didn’t assume to know what families and individuals three miles north of their existing space would want. So JCC-Manhattan decided wisely to invest time and resources in listening and learning from local residents about their interests.
Through strategic focus groups, surveys and interviews, The Public Good engaged 400 stakeholders in a participatory planning process that launched a new community center and provided its leadership with a prototype service and pricing model with which to create new and innovative programs with its audience.
Our collaborative process generated excitement for a new neighborhood space with innovative programs designed to bring neighbors of all ages together in an space for sharing experiences and celebrating Jewish identity. The intentional community gatherings, outreach and lots of listening occurred throughout the entire research and planning process. It not only provided the JCC with relevant insights to begin programming at the right price points, it also kick-started a community led marketing effort.