Nonprofit Profile: Urban League of Essex County, focused on urban economic development


The Urban League of Essex County has been serving people and communities in Essex County for more than 100 years! Founded in 1917 by William Ashby, the League was formed to assist the many African-Americans families coming North during “The Great Migration” from rural, agricultural backgrounds in the South. The industrial orientation of urban centers presented immense challenges for these Americans — both socially and economically. The League was founded to assist with job training, safe and decent housing, education and child care, social services, and civil rights advocacy and those services are still being delivered today.


Our mission is to assist African-Americans and disadvantaged residents in achieving social and economic self-sufficiency in local communities. Our motto is “Empowering Communities. Changing Lives.” The League welcomes any resident of Essex County that seeks our help and qualifies for our programs and services. We serve those of the greatest need, often who have multiple barriers to the workforce and economic success.


Advancing opportunities and obtaining economic pathways to move families out of poverty through better jobs, better schools and more vibrant neighborhoods. In the year ahead, we will expand our training programs to focus on tech jobs, providing access to STEM-based career pathways and developing partnerships that nurture greater access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for low-income communities.


Our programs are in four main areas that build strong foundations for individuals to become economically successful and to invest in their own communities: 1. Education, including early childhood and youth programs; 2. Employment-related services and financial literacy programs; 3. Affordable and stable housing, including emergency assistance for those facing homelessness and housing counseling; and 4. Community-building, including economic development and local resident leadership training.


The Urban League movement is founded on enabling individuals to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights. From advocating for decent housing and shelter, access to economic opportunities, equal treatment and civil rights, to homeownership and community-building, the League’s achievements have helped tens of thousands move onto productive pathways to realizing their own American dream. Recently, the League has begun its transition to a robust community development, with investments in socially conscious ventures, affordable housing development, sustainable career path programs and leadership development.


The League is an IRS certified 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The majority of our clients are very-low income, and our programs and services are provided at no charge to them. Therefore, most funding comes from corporate, foundation and philanthropic funders. We solicit individual donations and conduct fundraising events. We welcome new investors and are proud of our record of financial stewardship.


MCJ Foundation and Greater Newark LISC are invaluable partners in our work. We are honored to be supported by leading corporations like Prudential, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and United Airlines.


Our initiatives, programs and services empower people and communities to change in positive ways. The League has been serving Essex County for 100 years and we welcome donors, funders and partners that will help us to fulfill our mission for another 100 years.

In Brief

Where: Our offices are located in the West Ward of Newark, on Central Avenue.

Serving: We serve low- and moderate-income residents from Essex County, and provide program services in sites across the county.

Key members: We are an organization of more than 50 employees and 15 community leaders that serve as our board of trustees. Our CEO and president, Vivian Cox Fraser, has been with the League for more than a decade.

Conversation Starter

  • People in need of services can reach us at: 973-624-9535, or visit us at 504 Central Ave., Newark.
  • Potential donors, funders or partners should contact our CEO and president, Vivian Cox Fraser, at