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The Proud History of United Progress, Inc.

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United Progress Inc. (UPI) is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit Community Action Agency (CAA). Established in 1964 under Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” federal legislation known as the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, United Progress is a member of the Community Action Partnership National Association; a network of poverty-fighting enterprises established to address the perverse and persistent problem of poverty in America. United Progress is the designated Federal Anti-poverty agency for the City of Trenton funded through the Community Services Block Grant also known as CSBG Funding.

UPI is one of over 1,000 federally designated CAAs, engaged in a broad range of activities to reduce poverty; typical activities include promoting citizen participation, providing utility bill assistance, homelessness prevention and home weatherization for low-income individuals, health initiatives, administration of Head Start pre-school programs, job training, operating food pantries, and coordinating community initiatives. UPI provides services with a distinct sensitivity to client needs and has established a 50 year relationship of trust between the agency and clients that make it most often their first stop for help.

Did you know?

Over a three year period, UPI has accomplished a tremendous amount of impactful work including:


Units of treatment services provided

People helped with food and basic nutrition needs

Counseling hours provided

UPI: Building Community to End Poverty

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The funding UPI receives from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is designated to serve individuals at 125% of the federal poverty guidelines, or below. What does that mean? It means, that at UPI anti-poverty measures are inherent to everything that we do and we are focused on helping those in poverty. In Mercer County, that means over 10.9% of the population is in poverty, a number higher than the New Jersey poverty of 9.5% according to the 2019 US Census information. In Trenton, the number of people in poverty is even more alarming with 28.9% of the population in poverty.

This is even more concerning when we review the Median Household income with Trenton households with a median income 60% lower than the New Jersey median household income.

Source: US Census Bureau 2019 Estimates

The Trenton Kids Count also provides some startling information and emphasizes the need for UPI services. Some of these report findings included:

  • The city of Trenton had an increase in the child population of 11%, while the total city population was consistent
  • The number of women receiving prenatal care increased by 55% from 2013-2017

The full report can be accessed here at the Advocates for Children in New Jersey. 


Did you know?

Over a three year period, UPI has accomplished a tremendous amount of impactful work including:


People provided treatment screenings

People provided emergency homelessness prevention assistance

People provided financial assistance to restore or prevent utility service interruption

People provided clothing assistance

UPI Food Pantry

56 Escher Street
Trenton,  NJ  08609

Ms. Juanita Gonzalez

E:  [email protected]

T:  (609) 392-2161

UPI’s Food Pantry Hours
Mon.   9am – 12pm
Tue.    9am – 12pm
Wed.   9am – 12pm
Fri.      9am – 12pm
After 12pm by appointment
for non-SNAP recipients

SNAP recipients can receive food packages
after the 15th of the month,
Mon., Tue., Wed. & Fri., 9am to 12pm,
or after 12pm by appointment

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UPI’s Food Pantry distributes bulk food supplies free of charge to needy residents.

Food supplies are distributed to families and individuals from across the area.

The food assistance is based on income eligibility and food is distributed based on household size and availability of donated items.  Individuals using the agency’s pantry are permitted a pick up once every 30 days.


PUBLIC NOTICE: Changes to WIC-Approved Foods


In light of COVID-19, New Jersey WIC is allowing additional food items in anticipation of limited food selections related to recent events. Click here for the full announcement.

Did you know?

Each year, UPI collaborates with other community and faith-based organizations, and that over 45 partnerships have been developed to help address poverty including opioid overdoses and addiction.


Trenton  Behavioral Health Services


56 Escher Street
Trenton, NJ  08609

Ms. Sondi Hill

E:  [email protected]

T:  (609) 392-2822


Mr. Ralph Williams

E:  [email protected]

T:  (609) 392-2822

T:  (609) 789-9371 (cell)

Office Hours

Mon.  1:30am – 3:00pm
Tue.   8:30am – 3:00pm
Wed.   9:00am – 12.00pm
Thu.   2:00pm – 8:00pm
Fri.     12:00pm – 8:000pm
Sat. 12:00pm – 5:00pm
      by appointment only

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This program is currently on pause due to the pandemic.

UPI’s Trenton Behavioral Health Services (formerly Trenton Treatment Center) is dedicated to instilling solid values into each client as we assist them in obtaining the necessary skills to move forward on their road to recovery.

Peer Support Services consist of:

  • Peer 2 Peer Support
  • Contact information to other support groups/services
  • Enlightening each client through a self-awareness process
  • Introduction to self-management skills
  • Empowering clients, through education workshops, to make healthy and sound decisions
  • Weekly follow-up/contact with clients throughout the recovery process

Trenton Behavioral Health Services’ Peer Recovery Specialists promote recovery, enhance hope and social networking through role modeling and activation. These services supplement existing treatment with education, empowerment, and assistance in system navigation.

Peer support services have been shown to:

  • Reduce symptoms and hospitalizations
  • Increase social support and participation in the community
  • Decrease lengths of hospital stays and cost of services
  • Improve well-being, self-esteem, and social functioning
  • Encourage more thorough and longer-lasting recoveries

Regardless of the setting or role, we at Trenton Behavioral Health Services know that having peer supporters in a person’s recovery can make all the difference.

Trenton Behavioral Health Services’ Peer Support Specialists (PS Specialists) are more than just people who have been there. Our PS Specialists go beyond treatment as usual and use different training skills to support recovery in conjunction with professionals like therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists. PS Specialists work in a variety of roles including case management, wellness coaching, and education PS Specialists are also active participants in a full range of clinical settings, including crisis services.

Peer Recovery Program Schedule


  • 6 – 12 month program
  • Weekly Peer 2 Peer counseling
  • Weekly follow-up/phone contact
  • Life Skills Assessments
  • Weekly group sessions

Our Mission

The mission of United Progress, Inc. is to assist economically disadvantaged individuals and families in identifying and overcoming barriers to self-sufficiency moving them from poverty and into the economic mainstream. UPI works to combat the causes and reduce the effects of poverty in Mercer County by promoting self-sufficiency, removing barriers, maximizing the participation of our clients in the development and implementation of our programs, testing new approaches to solving basic causes of poverty, supporting self-help groups that promote self-sufficiency, working to better organize services related to the needs of the poor and broadening the resource base of programs directed to the elimination of poverty.


Who We Are

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United Progress Inc. (UPI) has a long history of being a community-based organization committed to working with individuals and families in Trenton and Mercer County. In fact, UPI has been serving the needs of the community since 1964 and continues today to help sustain individuals, families, and the community.

UPI is unique because of its over five decades of continuous involvement with Mercer County’s poor and has been a leader in identifying problems that affect the poor, while advocating for solutions to alleviate those problems identifying and addressing the root causes of poverty and specifically working on innovative and holistic approaches to addiction treatment, and recovery services.

Organizational Structure 

United Progress, Inc. (UPI) is governed by an Executive Board of Directors, who establishes policies and procedures to ensure the agency is effectively serving community needs and running in accordance with its articles of incorporation and bylaws. The Executive Board maintains a unique tripartite composition and partnership between representatives of the urban poor, private industry, and local government. The board consists of one-third elected pubic officials, one-third community representatives of the poor, and one-third from the private sector representing business, industry, and local government. The strength of this configuration is its’ balanced representation of skills and focuses that reflect the make-up of Trenton and Mercer County communities. UPI’s board composition ensures that the agency’s target population is included in the program decision- making process. The Executive Director is appointed by the Board of Directors and acts as the Chief Executive Officer.

The Executive Director/CEO is empowered by the Executive Board with the day-to-day responsibility for the overall administrative and programmatic operations of the agency. The agency’s organizational structure includes program/and project directors, managers, counselors, and support staff. These titles and positions vary according to individual grant and funding requirements. This structure ensures that all donations are maximized with a very low administrative cost.


Donate via PayPal or AmazonSmile
and make a difference in your community! 

The Promise of Community Action

Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.


National Community Action Partnership

Community Action Partnership logoUPI is part of the national community action network. You can learn more about CSBG funded services across the country by visiting the National Community Action Partnership website. 


 New Jersey Department of Community Affairs

NJ Dept. of Community Affairs logoNew Jersey also has a network of CSBG funding agencies. CSBG funding is provided through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). You can learn more about DCA and CSBG funding by visiting the NJ Department of Community Affairs website.


Community Action Partnership NJ

Community Action Partnership logoAll of the CSBG funded agencies are linked through our work on anti-poverty measures. The Community Action Partnership NJ, Inc. or CAP-NJ has resources on CSBG services throughout New Jersey. You can learn more about the CSBG network by visiting CAP NJ.


National Community Action Foundation

National Community Action FoundationAll of the CSBG work is supported by the National Community Action Foundation and the tireless work of David Bradley and NCAF. You can learn more about their work by visiting their page and sign up for legislative updates by visiting their page.

Get in Touch with Us!

If you need more information about our Food Pantry, Trenton Behavioral Health Services, other UPI services, or general information about UPI, please fill in our contact form.

6 + 4 =

UPI logo

A 501(c)(3) Non-profit Organization

Ms. Leslie A. Dona
Executive Director

UPI Offices and Services
are located at:

56 Escher Street
Trenton, New Jersey  08609

E: [email protected]

UPI Food Pantry, Emergency Utility Assistance, Homelessness Prevention, and General Agency Information

Ms. Juanita Gonzalez

T:   (609) 392-2161

E:   [email protected]


Trenton Behavioral
Health Services

Ms. Sondi Hill

E:  [email protected]

T:  (609) 392-2822


Mr. Ralph Williams

E:  [email protected]

T:  (609) 392-2822, ext. 205

T:  (609) 789-9371 (cell)


©2021 United Progress, Inc.

All rights reserved.





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