To say the Northside Urban Partnership was born last November is sort of misleading.
Part economic development agency and part social service organization, the group is more like the rebranded, refocused offspring of a four-way collaboration between St. Joseph's Hospital, Catholic Charities, Centerstate CEO, and Franciscan Collaborative Ministries.
On the surface, what had been known as the Northside Collaboratory was relabeled and moved into its own space in a rehabbed house on Catawba Street.
But after six months as Northside UP, the group boasts a growing resume of completed projects, ongoing programs and new initiatives in new neighborhoods, and serves as an example of how, if we just quit complaining about the disconnect between community organizations in Syracuse and put a solution to work, we might actually be able to get something done.
A bit of background
Dominic Robinson landed in Syracuse with very different plans: he came to the Salt City six years ago from Chicago to help his father, former SU football coach Greg Robinson, with the football program.
But with a background in urban studies, Robinson said in the back of his mind he'd begun developing a blueprint for what would become a community-based organization. He found himself pitching his idea to the friar of the Franciscan not long after he landed in the Salt City.
"He invited me to come and give it a try," Robinson said.
Robinson brought Maarten Jacobs on board and founded the Northside Collaboratory, which focused mostly on economic development and the arts.
"The two of us were just figuring stuff out," Robinson said. "As we evolved we started doing more work with St. Joseph's and the MDA, and I was asked to oversee Prospect Hill Development."
As the group evolved, Robinson said, it became clear consolidating into one entity would be more efficient, and Northside UP was unveiled.