In 1989, the foundation for Better Tomorrows was laid when affordable housing manager, Jackie Jones, saw the need to reinvent the traditional approach to property management for low-income communities.
At the time, Jackie worked at an affordable housing community operated by Interstate Realty Management, a subsidiary of The Michaels Organization. Her position with Interstate Reality Management afforded Jackie the opportunity to combine her knowledge of social services and property management which inspired her to create a supportive community that fostered resident empowerment. At the core of her approach was Jackie’s belief that affordable housing communities must “go beyond the bricks and mortar” and instead become “resident focused”.
Jackie identified areas of need within the community and mapped out those needs against the availability of local resources and service partners. From local police departments to youth development organizations, Jackie built partnerships across a broad range of services. These critical partnerships had an immediate impact on the community as was evidenced by a notable decrease in violence and an increase in residents finding meaningful, sustainable employment. Integral to transformation was Jackie’s support of and involvement in the Neighborhood Networks Initiative. Under her watch, Jackie led Interstate Realty Management’s efforts to establish more than 35 Neighborhood Networks centers, including Jackie’s Garden Townhouses in Philadelphia, PA, which was one of the first Neighborhood Networks Centers to open in 1995.
Michael Levitt, Founder and CEO of The Michaels Organization, noted these positive changes. Encouraged by Jackie’s success with the residents and community, he resolved to replicate the positive outcomes by creating a social services department within Interstate Realty Management. Mr. Levitt’s commitment to Jackie’s vision lead him to dedicate significant resources to the national expansion of individual case management and programming tailored to the needs of each community. It was with this solid foundation and reputation that Better Tomorrows was established as a nonprofit organization in February 2013.
Since that time, Better Tomorrows has gone on to serve over 26,000 youth, adults and seniors in over 100 affordable housing communities across the United States each year. The core of Better Tomorrows’ case management and social service programming remains true to Jackie’s original vision of providing educational success, economic stability, healthy lifestyles and strong communities to the residents we serve.
At the time of her passing in 2007, Jackie served as Vice President for Social Services at Interstate Realty Management Company. In honor of her many contributions, Interstate Realty Management created the Jackie Jones Memorial Scholarship and, a section of North 20th Street next to Jackie’s Garden Townhouses, was named in her honor. Though no longer with us, Jackie’s vision and spirit remains alive in each community served by Better Tomorrows.