The Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association grew out of the vision of Oxford Circle Mennonite Church with the mission “To extend healing and hope in the Oxford Circle community, believing that God’s purpose of reconciling all people to Jesus leads us to minister on spiritual, physical, social, & economic levels.”
The organization was fully incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 2006. OCCCDA’s overall areas of focus are 1) the development of a comprehensive learning community, 2) family support, and 3) economic and community development.
OCCCDA provides services in the Oxford Circle community of Philadelphia (Census Tract 390) and the surrounding community (zip codes 19124, 19111, and 19149), a “working poor” neighborhood. Oxford Circle is a community that is ripe with opportunity. Over the last ten years, Oxford Circle has experienced unprecedented growth in diversity and young families. 41% of our community is under the age of 21 (US Census 2010). There is both tremendous potential among the youth as well as great need. As an example, 50.6% of young men aged 18-24 have not completed high school compared with 20.4% ages 25+ (US Census 2010).
Carnell, our partner school, is one of the largest elementary schools in the city, serving approximately 1000 students in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. According to the School District of Philadelphia’s website, 100% of students are from economically disadvantaged families (Title I). We are excited to begin to see positive progress for the first time as the changes of the School Redesign begin to be implemented!
What once was a working-class Irish Catholic and the Jewish community is now the most diverse neighborhood in the city (over 28 different languages are represented at Carnell), with persons of all races, ethnicities, and religions making homes here. While it is an ethnically rich and exciting neighborhood in which to live and work, it is also wrought with challenges – the need for employment and job training, youth development and mentoring healing within families, and reconciliation among the many ethnic groups to prevent the potential for racial conflict.
As an organization, we feel called to be God’s hands and feet in our community – living our faith in God and each other and spreading that reconciliation in our community. Concretely, we envision a community center where families are reconciled with each other, through family and marriage counseling; where youth are provided positive after school activities, both academic and recreational; where individuals are taught job skills and trained for small business development; where community members who have conflicts with one another are able to walk through mediation processes; where suburban and urban churches can practice reconciliation by partnering together to use their gifts, working side by side, being ambassadors to a community that so badly needs to hear Christ’s message of reconciliation.