Many non-profits grow opportunistically. They see the need to help; they see a way to provide help; they do it. The problem is, all too often, they end up offering a broad and diffuse set of services that do not support and reinforce their central mission. Such "mission drift" is common. It is also dangerous to a non-profit's long-term health.
First, organizations that suffer from mission drift gradually lose their ability to gain ground on their primary goals. Second, if they are not able to demonstrate that they have a focused mission and a viable long-term growth plan, promising organizations cannot attract the level of general funding they need to grow and prosper over time.
This case study examines how Rheedlen Centers for Children and Family (now renamed Harlem Children's Zone) examined its own growth and programs and made hard decisions in the name of sustainability and impact.
Rockefeller Archive Center;
While Harlem, New York found itself deep in the midst of "urban crisis" in the mid- 1960s, by the late 1990s commentators invoked Harlem's rich past to describe its apparent resurgence, or "Second Renaissance." Harlem's transformation came about in an era of profound global, national, and local political economic shifts, but residents themselves played a crucial role in negotiating and effecting the redevelopment of their neighborhood at the scale of its buildings and streets. My dissertation, "A City Within a City: Community Development and the Struggle Over Harlem, 1961-2001," examines the grassroots response of residents in Harlem to questions of development in the last four decades of the twentieth century. While most historians have considered citizen activism as the conclusion of the major postwar American project of urban redevelopment, or the large-scale, government-led reconstruction of cities, this study contends that such community-based activism also marked the beginning of a new era in urban history. By using one exemplary place to tell this story, I explore the world's best-known predominantly African-American neighborhood as both an exceptional and representative case among American cities in the aftermath of federally funded urban renewal.