Many of the homeowners who have returned to the Florida area come from families that have lived in the neighborhood for generations. Through their individual efforts, the community is gradually coming back to life, but the pace is slow. The community development effort was considerably strengthened by the completion of the Musicians’ Village in 2009. In addition to new housing, the Musicians’ Village has made the Upper Ninth Ward a vibrant center for the culture and heritage of New Orleans.
The opening of the Ruby Bridges School of Community Service and Social Justice will function as a further catalyst for the community’s revitalization. By offering such a comprehensive network of supports to students and families, the school will function as a center of community development. In addition the social justice curriculum will include community-based service learning, such as gardening, landscaping, painting and construction projects, to improve the physical appearance of the neighborhood. High school students will also be trained to identify issues in the community and develop complex strategies to address the problems they have identified. They will be taught by experts about community development and grassroots organizing.
Residents of the Florida area who are not directly affiliated with the school will also benefit. For example, after school and summer programming should significantly reduce incidents of juvenile delinquency in the neighborhood. RBS will also provide some services for community members, such as GED courses and technology skills classes. The school will actively cultivate relationships with residents to engage them in school decisions and neighborhood improvement efforts.