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Our Neighborhood


History of Paterson

Paterson, New Jersey was originally founded in 1792 by Alexander Hamilton through the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) as the first step in implementing his plans for a national hub of industry.

For Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury Secretary, the City of Paterson would become the spark igniting a new form of industrial power—adding wealth, independence and economic security to a fledgling democratic nation.

Not unlike other industrial models to follow, the roaring waterfall called the Great Falls, and the potential power it could generate, made Paterson an ideal location for what Hamilton envisioned as his "national manufactory." At 77 feet, the Great Falls is the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River (second only to Niagara Falls).

Hamilton's vision was to create an urban center that channeled the power of the Great Falls into an industrial powerhouse, which turned Paterson into the nation's first planned industrial city. Over the years, Paterson became a major center for industrial firsts:

  • the first water-powered cotton spinning mill (1793)

  • the first continuous roll paper (1812)

  • the Colt Revolver (1836)

  • the Rogers Locomotive Works which helped fuel western expansion through the transcontinental railroad (1837)

  • the Holland Submarine — making underwater navigation possible (1878)

Great Falls Neighborhood Initiative

As one of Paterson's leading community-based organizations, our mission is to create opportunities to transform lives within our neighborhood, which we call the Great Falls Neighborhood.

With a more focused, data-driven, outcome-oriented approach for accountability in serving the children and families within our neighborhood, NJCDC has established a cradle-to-college pipeline of services to address the needs of low-income children throughout every phase by providing families with support from as early as pregnancy until children reach adolescence and are prepared for college and/or a career.

To widen our impact within the Great Falls Neighborhood, we have adopted a holistic strategy to improve the lives of residents, with the goal that all 8,000 children living or going to school in our neighborhood will graduate from high school ready for college and a career. To fulfill this vision, we developed and implemented a pipeline approach, modeled after Harlem Children's Zone and the Promise Neighborhood Initiative, which reaches children and supports parents at every stage of a child's life – from birth to graduation. 

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of Every Dollar Donated goes directly to our Programs & Services

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Children and Families Served Daily

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Affordable/Supportive Housing Units Built


Support Our Work!

We at NJCDC are keenly aware of the challenging economic times. 92 cents of every dollar donated to NJCDC goes directly to programs which help families, teens, children and people with disabilities.

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