“Creative Urban Renewal” – that’s the mantra behind
Twenty Nineteen, LLC
, a new, first of its kind, center for social innovators who have an itch to work on the social and environmental problems that Philadelphia faces.
“The new center is for those who can't just take off a year or six months without income, yet have really cool, viable ideas or working ventures for improving urban problems,” explains Martin Montero, one of the partners behind Twenty Nineteen. He says the center is mostly aimed for folks in their 20s who “still have a lot freedom to pick up and move to start something new on a shoestring.”
Montero thinks the new center, which is located at 2019 College Street
in Brewerytown, will help better connect individuals to Philly’s civic issues, bringing about engagement in ways that aren’t currently possible. “By default, folks with money, family connections or political influence are those best suited to make social change,” says Montero. “One of the goals of Twenty Nineteen is to open that opportunity up to others and give them resources and connections they might not otherwise have.”
A big part of that opportunity will come by way of the center’s physical location. The model calls for three connected row houses that will house 18 people with an open communal space on the first floor for hosting community events or having visitors. Rent will be $450/month, but three to six of those folks will get room and board stipends for one year In exchange for a full-time work commitment (50-60 hours a week) to launch or join a social venture that directly benefits Philadelphia.
An interesting caveat to Twenty Nineteen is that the social innovators who move into the house have to commit to three years of living in Philadelphia. “This is a unique aspect of the house as compared to similar ventures across the country,” says Montero. “We want to make sure Philly really benefits from the ideas being generated here.”
So what kind of ideas are Montero and his partners hoping will come out of Twenty Nineteen? “Anything from nutrition, health care, green energy to improving civic engagement,” says Montero. “The goal of the house is to solve some of the City’s greatest urban problems.”
To help make this goal a reality, Montero and his partners are teaming up with Girard College. “The house is located next door so it makes perfect sense to utilize the College’s campus resources,” says Montero. “In return, Girard students will have access to the social innovators for an after school/weekend option for apprenticeships centered on several Philly centric civic engagement/social innovation projects.”
Montero hopes the young adults will serve as role models for the students and catalyze increased civic engagement in a neighborhood that could use some increased attention.
Twenty Nineteen is ready to kick off a one year pilot project with six social innovators from local organizations here in Philly. “We actually handpicked the first round of innovators,” says Montero who explained they did so to create an initial healthy ecosystem and ensure diverse ideas were represented. During the next year, Montero hopes to work out the kinks of the house, finish lining up sponsors and put them in a position to fully launch with 18 innovators come next fall.
: Martin Montero, Twenty Nineteen, LLC
: Greg Meckstroth