Philip Lance founded Pueblo Nuevo Development in 1993. Based in Los Angeles, the nonprofit corporation was a vehicle to create economic opportunities for residents of the MacArthur Park neighborhood, a first stop for immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Many of them had escaped civil unrest and political upheaval to rebuild in the United States and faced starting over again after the Rodney King riots destroyed much of the MacArthur Park area.
Through Pueblo Nuevo, Mr. Lance was able to launch and sustain several initiatives to train and employ local residents. An ordained minister with the Episcopal Church, Mr. Lance also led a ministry near MacArthur Park, where for a time he held “mass on the grass” gatherings. Members of his congregation served on the board of Pueblo Nuevo Development and collaborated with Mr. Lance to transform the community. By 1994, Mr. Lance had built a congregation of 25 families and started a thrift shop that helped to support the ministry and provide a living for his members. He also launched Pueblo Nuevo Enterprises, a janitorial services company that employed over 50 people and generated $1 million in annual revenue. Employees were also owners of the company.
The cycle of poverty proved difficult to break even as Pueblo Nuevo Development and Mr. Lance’s other initiatives were empowering residents and improving the community. Over time, Mr. Lance and community residents agreed that the clearest path to opportunity and prosperity was building high-quality schools. In 2000, the first Camino Nuevo Charter Academy opened a few blocks from MacArthur Park. For this endeavor, Mr. Lance enlisted the help of Paul Cummins, the founder of several successful schools who had pioneered a holistic and humanistic approach to educating children from diverse backgrounds. Together, they created a school that offered children a safe learning environment and emphasized language immersion and the arts. Specialists offered one-on-one support to students, many of whom had special needs and significant academic challenges.
“We had to choose between giving priority to neighborhood children who have the fewest choices about education and who are almost 100 percent Hispanic, and recruiting from outside the neighborhood to gain racial and ethnic diversity. We chose to remain with our vision of building a community-based school for neighborhood children.” – Philip Lance, Founder
Today, Pueblo Nuevo Development – now the Pueblo Nuevo Education and Development Group – supports eight Camino Nuevo Charter Academy campuses. Each school stands out for providing a full range of student and family support services and delivering an education tailored to the specific needs and demands of the neighborhoods they serve. Students have access to college-preparatory classes, mental health services, and enrichment programs including art, music, and dance. Pueblo Nuevo EDG also makes college success possible for Camino Nuevo graduates through an alumni support program and scholarships.
After leading Pueblo Nuevo Development for 13 years and serving as president of the board of Camino Nuevo for 16 years, Mr. Lance retired in 2016. He is still active in the community and continues to serve on the board of Pueblo Nuevo. His legacy of empowering others to uplift themselves and their communities continues to drive our work and our organization forward.