Urban League of Essex County

Urban League of Essex County helps to create jobs, teach new skills, and educate the future. This mission is accomplished through various programs, including:

Four Areas of Service

1. Ensure that children are well educated and equipped for economic self-reliance in the 21st century by offering the best foundations for education and job skills possible.

2. Protect civil rights by eradicating all barriers to equal participation in the economic and social mainstream of America by offering seminars, community outreach events, voter education and civic action opportunities.

3. Focus on neighborhood revitalization by undertaking resident driven plans to reverse the patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promote equitable revitalization throughout all communities.

4. Help adults attain economic self-sufficiency through good jobs, home ownership, entrepreneurship and financial literacy by offering seminars, study groups, job networking, remedial skills training and technology training.


Since its founding in 1917, the organization’s mission has been to help African Americans and disadvantaged residents achieve social and economic self-sufficiency has supported that ideal.  

When ULEC began more than 100 years ago, leather factories, iron works, breweries, and other factories thrived along the Morris Canal. Black workers streamed into Essex County from the South, escaping Jim Crow oppression and drawn by the plentiful jobs and available housing stock.

The Urban League was formed to improve the social, economic, and moral conditions of these new arrivals, who found that discrimination had followed them northward, despite the greater opportunities. 

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ULEC Founder William Ashby said, 

“The Urban League at that time was the only organization whose purpose and aim might give direction to the solution of some of the problems.” 

Solutions by Numbers

The following numbers give a snapshot of the impact ULEC has had on Northern New Jersey. 

During the pandemic, ULEC has:

  • Disbursed over $40,000 in emergency cash assistance during the pandemic
  • Distributed over $100,000 in emergency rental assistance.
  • Provided over 200,000 pounds of food during the pandemic.
  • Over 250 young people have participated in the Newark Kids Code Program since 2018.
  • 175 people attended ULEC’s In-person and Virtual First Time Home Buyer Workshops in 2020.
  • In 2020, the Urban League of Essex County helped 10 families purchase their own homes and 77 people avoided foreclosure.
  • 66 individuals enrolled in ULEC’s Savings Programs combined to save $30,765, even during the pandemic.

A Story of Hope

Isaac Oppong’s financial circumstances were trying, difficult, and unpredictable before being introduced to the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC).

Upon enrolling in the FOC, Mr. Oppong had no savings, was under-employed and had an unscored FICO credit profile due to insufficient credit history. 

After attending a mandatory financial capability workshop Oppong was intrigued and eager to enroll in multiple services provided by the FOC. 

He quickly began financial coaching sessions and took advantage of the Twin Account program, a matched savings client-incentive product. 

Within 18 months, Oppong saved over $5,000 toward emergency savings and the purchase of a car. 

“My situation has gone from stressful to hope filled, I feel I can achieve any goal I set,” said Oppong.

Now he consistently saves 15% of income and plans to enroll in an employer-based retirement plan this year. Now he says:

“I am so thankful I came to that first financial workshop and now have a financial coach. I changed my path in the direction I want — success!” 

Read more of Oppong’s story on the ULEC website.

Join the League

Individuals can partner with ULEC when they become members of the league, divided into three types:

  1. General
  2. Guild
  3. YPs

Guild and YP members can participate in skilled volunteer opportunities, whereas general volunteerism can be achieved through a general membership. More member information can be found on the ULEC website. Learn more about volunteering for ULEC on the Volunteer Match website

Learn more about the impact they’re making in New Jersey on the Urban League of Essex County website.

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