Community Governance & Development Council (CGDC) is a non-profit community organization aimed at empowering Southwest Yonkers through technology, participatory urban planning, and community leadership development.
Our Community, Our Vision, Our Plan.
We believe that in order for community development to be successful, it must be driven by, and serve the interests of the local community. Through conducting needs assessments and facilitating community dialogue, CGDC creates comprehensive neighborhood plans, and helps to organize community members to put those plans into action.
A primary goal of CGDC is to help develop bold and effective community leadership. Through our Cadet Program for high school students, our internships for college students, and our community leadership training workshops, we aim to spark the minds that will continue to change our communities.
CGDC was founded in 2012, when we launched our “Free School 19” campaign that organized youth and community members in an attempt to acquire an abandoned school building on Jackson Street in the heart of Southwest Yonkers. Our plan was to win site control of the building, and initiate a capital campaign to raise the needed funds to renovate the structure, and transform the building from a long time eyesore, into a mix-use community facility and an urban planning themed public high school.
During the campaign, we organized community forums to collect feedback from residents about what services they would like to see provided within School 19. We also organized multiple “community clean-ups” where residents came together to volunteer their time to clean the grounds of the school building and the surrounding neighborhood to demonstrate community ownership and commitment. While we were engaging the community we were also assembling an experienced project management team, that consisted of architects, fundraising professionals, and other talented individuals who were inspired by the work that we were doing, and decided to dedicate their time and energy to help make the project a success.
Shortly after the launch of the campaign, the City of Yonkers issued a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the School 19 building. We submitted our proposal which included a plan and business model for transforming and administering the facility, architectural renderings, and letters of support from various agencies and institutions who expressed commitment to either leasing space within the new facility, or providing services.
A few weeks following our submission, we were informed that our proposal was not selected, and that another developer that planned to convert the building to market-rate apartments had won the contract. The rational provided was that the developer had a stronger track record, and would be able to complete the project in a shorter amount of time. In order for the deal to be sealed between the developer and the city, it had to be approved by the city council, and when the night came for the vote to take place, community members and supporters packed the council chambers to testify and plead with the council to vote “no” for the housing development, in support of the “community’s plan”. What had become a dramatic and inspirational display of community support that night, quickly turned to heartbreak as we lost by just one vote.
Although we didn't win our bid to redevelop School 19, the movement that we generated earned our community and organization a great platform, and CGDCNY has since been working to leverage the professional, governmental, and community support that we have been able to cultivate, in order to execute our long term vision and plan for transforming Southwest Yonkers.