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Category: Messages from the Director

An Update on the Evolution of Northside UP

Written by Dominic Robinson  • January 1, 2017

Editor’s note: In July of 2015 we shared a post about the changes Northside UP would soon be undergoing with the goal of expanding programming across the community, while maintaining a commitment to the continued revitalization of Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood. This post is an update on the article and where Northside UP will progress in 2017.



Dear Friends and Community Partners,

Northside UP, originally the Northside Collaboratory, began in 2006 rooted in a collaborative approach towards the goal of radically improving the quality of life on the Northside. In June of 2015, Northside UP relocated its offices from our long-time home on North Salina Street to downtown’s Pike Block. This move was part of our team’s evolving role and work within the Syracuse community.

Since our official incorporation as the Economic Inclusion division under CenterState CEO in 2016, we’ve spent a great deal of energy revisiting our role on the Northside and the work we were known for in the neighborhood. While our workforce and small business development initiatives readily adapted to be citywide, we realized that our roles as convener and connecter on the Northside was as critical as ever.  Over this past spring and summer, we met with neighbors and partners to discuss and design how to continue our work on the Northside. We’re excited to announce that our planning efforts culminated in a fresh structure for Northside UP as a program administered by CenterState CEO’s Economic Inclusion team. Under the guidance of a community-led steering committee, and with staff support from my colleagues Stasya Erickson and Jonathan Link Logan, Northside UP will continue to harness the power of partnership for improving the health and strengthening the economy of the Northside. Moving forward, Stasya and Jonathan will be serving as Co-Directors of Northside UP, while I continue to provide support and guidance. Stay tuned for more details in the weeks and months to come.

We look forward to working together in this mission so that we may create a vibrant and prosperous Northside community that embraces diversity and fosters opportunity for all. Please feel free to contact Stasya (serickson@centerstateceo.com), Jonathan (jlinklogan@centerstateceo.com), or me (drobinson@centerstateceo.com) with any questions. Happy New Year!





Changes for Northside UP

Written by Dominic Robinson  • July 13, 2015

Dear Friends and Community Partners,

Over the past year, my team and I have been going through a strategic planning process to determine how to best continue our contributions to the revitalization of our community. As a part of our planning, we’ve had to wrestle with the fact that much of the work has begun to expand beyond the Northside. In particular, our efforts in workforce and small business development have increasingly become city-wide in nature. As those programs have expanded, we’ve learned that they can become much more efficient and impactful at scale. In other words, by expanding beyond a single neighborhood, we can actually create more opportunities and sustain our efforts within the Northside over time. This reality has challenged us to reexamine our organizational structure and position within the community.

After many conversations and much consideration, we are entering into a new phase for our partnership, which is defined by this goal: expand programming across the community, while maintaining a commitment to the continued revitalization of Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood.

This new phase will bring with it many changes to our partnership, the first of which is to further align ourselves with our parent organization, CenterState CEO. As a regional economic development and business leadership organization, CenterState CEO gives our team the operating capacity needed to run programs at scale – and provides greater visibility to our work and access to resources and opportunities. In order to more fully align with CenterState CEO, we’ve decided to move our offices into the CenterState CEO headquarters, on the corner of Salina and West Fayette Street, in downtown Syracuse. We also will be rebranding our partnership to better communicate the evolution of our work and role.

This does not mean, however, that our work is leaving the Northside. Our team will continue to work closely with Northside community leaders, business and property owners, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, to further revitalize the neighborhood.

We strongly believe that our strategic changes will only enhance our impact on the Northside. To ensure that we are maintaining a “boots on the ground” approach, we are partnering with NEHDA (the Northeast Hawley Development Association) to assist in some of our community organizing and convening efforts. While we’ve enjoyed a strong partnership with NEHDA over the years, we believe that there’s significant opportunity to further enhance each other’s efforts and eliminate redundancies between our teams. Ultimately, working more closely with NEHDA allows us to create a stronger voice for the Northside – and a better deployment of resources and energies. This arrangement ensures the long term viability of both organizations.

While we’re moving less than 10 blocks down the street, we recognize that this move represents significant change. Nonetheless, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the work that we’ve been blessed to do for the better part of the past decade. My team and I have been having individual conversations with our Northside partners to communicate these changes. If anyone would like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out.



Got a question or comment? Get in touch with us at info@northsideup.org with the subject: CHANGES.

Dominic’s 7 Habits

Written by admin  • January 5, 2015

In November, our Director was featured as one of the seven community leaders at CenterState CEO’s ’7 Habits of Highly Successful People’. The event drew nearly 100 attendees and featured Eric Hinman, Rounded; Eileen Brophy, Brophy Services Inc.; Bob Daino, WCNY TV/FM; Amy Collins, CNY Central; Dominic Robinson, CenterState CEO; Kimberly Boynton, Crouse Hospital; and Matt Mulcahy, CNY Central and 7 Habits emcee.


In case you missed the opportunity to attend, we’ve listed Dominic’s seven habits, below.

1. Define Success for Yourself: Success can be defined in very different ways:  achievements, public accolades, status in society, etc. It’s been important for me, however, to think of success as a daily practice. I appreciate Aristotle’s suggestion that happiness is achieved by utilizing one’s talents in the pursuit of excellence.  We might consider asking ourselves, “Is my daily life filled with meaningful pursuits, worthy challenges, and authentic relationships? Am I using my gifts in ways that make me happy and contribute to the world around me?” These questions define success for me, and they guide my path.

2. Invest in the Success of Others: In my work, success is predicated on a great team. I cannot accomplish anything without talented, passionate colleagues and strong community partners. This team dynamic, however, must be cultivated. It requires constant attention and effort. That payoff is worth it, though. When those around me feel supported and empowered, the quality of our collective work increases. This dynamic also fosters camaraderie and loyalty, which are building blocks for sustaining a strong team culture.

3. Be Authentic: Authenticity seems to be fundamental to living a satisfied and successful life. To be authentic suggests that we are true to ourselves and rooted in our convictions. More than this, however, I have come to embrace the fact that being authentic also means being vulnerable. We must accept our inadequacies and failures and own them as much as our successes. We must be willing to laugh at ourselves. When we’re comfortable with our own vulnerability, those around us are intuitively more willing to trust us. Plus we are more willing to work on our faults and seek help from others, which ensures continuous improvement.

4. Seek Advice and Constructive Criticism: Our perspectives have been shaped by our own experiences, and while experience is the best teacher, we must also understand the limitations of our own points of view. I’ve made it a habit to constantly seek advice from people who I respect but who are very different than me. Drawing from a wide array of ideas and opinions has allowed me to develop more thoughtful strategies and a greater sense of empathy for others.

5. Embrace the Power of Creative Conflict: Working with talented, passionate people is the best part of my job, but it’s fair to say that it’s not always easy. Hardly a week goes by without trying to reconcile differences in opinion or engaging in passionate (and sometimes heated) debates – and that’s a good thing! Virtually every defining moment or period of growth in my life has been been catalyzed by some kind of challenge or conflict. Creative conflict fuels innovation and, in the long run, can enhance camaraderie. I think we must allow for a healthy level conflict in the workplace. Of course, for conflict to be constructive, there has to be an underlying culture of respect and a willingness to set differences aside when it’s time to move on.

6. Don’t Fear Failure:  We know that great accomplishments are often predicated on risk taking. Virtually every successful person has taken a leap of faith when others might have backed away. However, it’s important to remember that a leap of faith is rooted in… well, faith. I’ve pursued some ambitious and seemingly illogical goals in my day, and others have tried to dissuade me. The truth is, however, that I had confidence in those moments. I saw something that others didn’t. Whether I was confident in my own abilities and preparation, or in the character and skill of those around me, my leaps of faith have rarely felt risky to me. In other words, transcending our fear of failure has a lot to do with ignoring the fears of others when we are genuinely confident.

7. Always Fear Failure: No matter how successful we become, we’re all capable of failure. The moment we think we’ve arrived, we’re in trouble.  We set ourselves up for true failure when we succumb to compulsions towards complacency and entitlement. Real success is a daily practice, not a position of status. Recently, someone referred to our team as “scrappy”. I took that is the highest compliment. To me, scrappy suggests that we’re industrious, resourceful and shrewd. As long as I’m working, I want to be a scrappy guy, who’s always trying to stay one step ahead of my own shortcomings and potential for failure.

If you’re interested in reading the habits shared by the other speakers,  check out CEO’s January Newsletter: CEO Essentials.

This Friday: 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

Written by admin  • November 4, 2014

Our Director, Dominic Robinson, will be featured this Friday as one of the seven community leaders at CenterState CEO’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’! Come listen to presenters share their candid, time-tested lessons and personal habits that have helped them find success.

Registration and coffee at 7:30 a.m.; program at 8:00 a.m.; conclusion at 10:00 a.m. $20 for members and $30 for non-members.

CEO 7 Habits Email

Northside Statement on 81 Challenge

Written by admin  • December 4, 2013

We’re very proud to have co-authored this statement on syracuse.com:

“The opportunity is here to make thoughtful, measured decisions about what we consider the standard for a great and vibrant city should be — and how we can reach those standards. Therefore, we are calling for a plan that solves the ’81 Challenge’ while contributing to the greater challenge of restoring vitality to our proud city.”




Read the full article at Syracuse.com/opinion. 

This op-ed was jointly submitted by the Northside Urban Partnership; St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center; Greater North Salina Business Association; The North East Hawley Development Association; Patricia Body, Chair of the Danforth/Pond/Butternut TNT Task Force; Davco Performance; Thanos Import Market; Open Hand Theater; Laci’s Tapas Bar; and the All Asian Market

Then & Now: Why we’re here

Written by Dominic Robinson  • February 16, 2012

Imagine a place bustling with life. Serene streets, lined with sturdy houses, where the sidewalks are teaming each morning with adults and children, walking to work and school.  A place where a Saturday afternoon’s errands can be done on foot, and where you know the owner of each business you visit. A place where children play in yards, on streets and in parks, and parents and neighbors look out for them.  There is a sense of community in this place and a quality of life that is hard to measure.

This place existed on the Northside of Syracuse for the better part of 100 years. The mostly German and Italian families that settled the Northside were hardly rich, but they lived in abundance. Throughout its history, the neighborhood was defined by its quality of life, at least until after World War II. Then the factories started to leave, and the highways were built, choking the neighborhood and luring families to newly built suburbs – an exodus fueled further by racial tensions that emerged as the area started to diversify. Over time, the place was filled with vacancy. Houses were abandoned and storefronts were boarded. Those who remained found that their neighborhood was less safe and offered fewer opportunities.

It’s important to remember, however, that while the Northside has declined in many respects, it has never lost its vitality. Even in the midst of many challenges, the Northside has remained true to its roots, existing as a place of refuge and hope.  As the neighborhood lost much of its original population, new communities moved in – from African Americans, spreading throughout Syracuse after desegregation – to immigrants and refugees, from South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East – to mostly white young professionals, searching for an urban environment. All of them came seeking something better, just like the first Northsiders. One needs only to stand on a street corner to feel the energy here. Watch, as people from almost every part of the world, many dressed in bright native clothing, walk down sidewalks, past majestic churches, in and out of laundromats, bakeries, and markets.  A world’s worth of music projects from cars and apartment windows, while the scents of varied cuisines waft from kitchens into the streets.  Things might not be perfect, but life still abounds.

The big difference today is a lack of economic opportunities. Most Northsiders are still working class; it’s just that many of them can’t find good work. People here still dream of owning homes and starting businesses; they just have a harder time turning those dreams into reality. This lack of opportunities translates into more poverty, which means greater instability – which results in pockets of crime and blight. These challenges are only part of the story, however, and they are certainly not the end of the script. Slowly, but surely, the Northside is coming back. Every month we see new investments in the community. Historic buildings are being rehabbed, luring middle class residents and new business owners. Meanwhile, some Northsiders are working up from poverty and are buying homes and starting businesses themselves. Pockets of the neighborhood are emerging as creative hubs, as young artists and professionals congregate and convert abandoned places into vibrant spaces.