Fostering self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities.
June 2020
Dear Friend,

First, we hope that this continues to find you safe and healthy. As Isles continues to adjust to our “new normal” with COVID-safe practices, physical distancing, and in many cases, a transition to online services, we are thinking creatively to meet our mission and stay connected to those we serve.

This time last year, we have just completed our Isles Youth Institute Commencement Ceremony, where we brought together over 100 families, friends, and partners to celebrate the successes of our IYI Class of 2019. This year, we had to adapt to COVID while still recognizing and celebrating each student, who overcame unimaginable barriers to earn their high school equivalency diploma. Read about our individualized ceremonies below.
Our COVID response work continues to grow–our staff and volunteers are making masks, putting together grow kits and healthy homes toolboxes, and delivering food to students, families, and customers. We’ve sewn more than 1,000 masks, created 270 grow kits, and delivered hundreds of meals to date and we’re not done! As some staff slowly transition back to work that was “on pause” during the height of the pandemic, such as our lead remediation work, we’ll engage more partners and volunteers to continue to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of our communities.
Finally, on a personal note, I have some bittersweet news to share: I’ve been accepted into Harvard U niversity ’s Graduate School of Education where I will be pursing my Doctorate in Education Leadership and will be transitioning from Isles at the end of the month.   Isles is a place that allowed me to grow and develop and to consider “community” from various lenses. This community view of education will carry me through my time at Harvard and keep me connected to the great work Isles continues to do in Trenton. Needless to say, I am truly grateful for the time I’ve spent at Isles Youth Institute , and I’m proud of the strong, capable team that we have in place. I look forward to seeing them continuing to grow Isles Youth Institute and provide education and training to Trenton’s most at-risk youth.   

A former student by the name of Evelyn created a chant, “IYI we CHANGE lives”…my life is forever changed!

In community,

Managing Director, Isles Youth Institute
COVID Response Update
When COVID prevented Isles Youth Institute from holding in-person classes, the team quickly shifted to remote learning. Staff stayed connected with students through Isles-provided chromebooks, helping them stay on track to meet their educational goals. Since many are food insecure, we’re working to connect them with nutritional resources and provide grow kits and f resh food from our Tucker Street Garden, and meals from local restaurants. We're offering trainings targeted at young people, so they can keep themselves and their families healthy.

To that end, we are also sewing and delivering homemade masks to our students, as well as community members and local businesses. Isles staff and volunteers, including Social Profit Center tenant Inspired Threads, have sewn more than 1,000 masks to date! For more information on how Isles is responding to community needs visit
Isles' staff and volunteers hit their 700th mask milestone earlier this month
local business owners receive a box of
homemade masks
2020 Commencement Ceremony
Congratulations to our 2020 Isles Youth Institute graduates! This year we hosted a series of socially-distant, personalized commencement ceremonies at our future headquarters the Social Profit Center at Mill One . Students received an individual ceremony filled with personalized speeches, virtual videos from staff, and a cheering squad in the parking lot! Take a look at some of the photos from the ceremony
City Hall Atrium
This summer marks the fifth year of Isles Youth Institute students working to beautify Trenton’s City Hall atrium. Students helped maintain and landscape the garden, and created more green and floral sitting areas to encourage spending time outdoors. Thank you to our students and staff for your hard work to transform this space!
News Spotlight
Read this article to see how we’re using community gardening to foster sustainability during the pandemic and beyond. Check out the featured video above, which shares an up-close look at our Incubator Garden—a hands-on gardening workshop that provides leadership training, planting space, and one-on-one assistance to community members.