IMPACT Silver Spring was founded in 1999 during the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring. At the time, Silver Spring was in the midst of a major demographic transition from a mostly white suburb into an extremely diverse urban area. The people whose voices were represented in the redevelopment process were the established community which mainly consisted of middle-class home owners and business owners, and did not represent the diversity of race, culture, and income that existed in the larger community. It is within this context of the shifting demographics and redevelopment of Silver Spring that IMPACT was founded.
IMPACT spent the first 6 years offering a 9-month community leadership program. It provided diverse residents, including old and new voices, the opportunity to build relationships of trust, increase community-building skills, explore ideas for community change, and pursue collective action on a wide range of action projects.
In 2005, IMPACT transitioned from its broader community leadership program, towards a more specific focus in the community environments of local schools and apartment buildings. The schools’ work was focused on closing the achievement gap, while the work in apartment buildings was aimed at creating safe and welcoming rental communities.
When the economic crisis hit in 2009, IMPACT combined its leadership development and community engagement technologies with Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services to create the Neighbors Campaign--now known as the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NON). Through NON, IMPACT has been connecting families to emergency services, while building neighborhood-based networks that enable diverse residents to connect and engage in the practices of mutual support, accountability, and exchange.
In 2010 IMPACT augmented the value of the Network via a merger with the Long Branch Athletic Association-- connecting kids from low-income families to organized sports in their community. IMPACT also initiated a new effort called the Family Asset Building Network--consisting of families who are working in the context of mutually supportive and accountable networks while in pursuit of positive economic outcomes for their families. The learnings from this network continue to inform IMPACT's current local economy initiative.
Sixteen years of building a diverse network has yielded IMPACT a loosely affiliated group of hundreds of people who are activating positive change in their lives and in the community.