FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ALLENTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD LEADERS ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP
Community Action Secures $3.9 Million for Workforce Development Plan Focused on Children
Leaders of the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown and its allies announced today that it has received approval of its plan to develop a wide range of outreach, programs and services to give inner-city children a better shot at thriving in a world that is leaving far too many behind. The project will be focused on the neighborhood bounded by Seventh Street to the east, Twelfth Street to the west, Linden Street to the south and Gordon Street to the north.
The core of the six-year plan, temporarily named “Allentown’s Future,” is commitments of $3.9 million from companies that do business in the Lehigh Valley, supported by 80% tax credits by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development as part of its Neighborhood Partnership Program. At $650,000 per year, it is the largest program of its kind in Pennsylvania.
Schnearia Ashley, BB&T/Truist’s representative on the steering committee, and Travis Rhodes, Truist’s Regional President, identified the corporate investors and the commitments they made:
Butz Company 50,000
Duggan & Marcon 50,000
City Center Investment Corp 50,000
Wells Fargo 50,000
Peoples Security & Trust 50,000
PNC Bank 50,000
Capital Blue 50,000
The Pool Health Care Trust also committed $50,000 in this first year.
In announcing the project, Rebecca Ramos, a neighborhood leader, mother of two and the co-chair of the steering committee (along with Donald Bernhard, Executive Director of the Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative), listed the array of activities that will be part of the project:
- More openings for kids in the Head Start program administered by Community Services for Children;
- Educational remediation for kids in all grade levels;
- A girls empowerment program called SHE, which strengthens the self-esteem and teaches good decision-making of girls with the intent on changing the power dynamic between girls and boys;
- Generation Next, which will help our talented high school students to save money and get into and graduate from college;
- An array of arts programming;
- Youth entrepreneurship training;
- Job development and placement programs.
The Partnership is funding two outreach workers who are employed by Promise Neighborhoods. They are “streetwise” and will walk the neighborhood, identifying kids who would benefit from getting connected to these programs, avoid gangs and find some direction in their lives.
The most ambitious part of the plan is the development of a multi-million-dollar youth center in
the neighborhood. The facility would house most of the activity of the project. It will include
space for sports, including indoor soccer, field hockey, basketball and other youth sports as well
as an arts center with a recording studio. The group is currently focused on a site and is
designing the facility for that site but declined to give additional details while the discussion is
Sean King, Managing Director of the Cultural Coalition of Allentown, explained the arts collaborative and the impact a well-developed arts community can have on the quality of life. He said “Allentown’s Future” is a temporary name that will be replaced by one chosen through a neighborhood-based competition. Details of the plan will be presented in a separate announcement.
“The most frustrating thing about a neighborhood struggling to recover is how that struggle affects our kids,” Ramos said, adding. “We want our kids to be hopeful, to have a future and to stay in the neighborhood and pass it down to their kids better than what they inherited.”
While CADCA is the grantee and has the administrative and fiduciary responsibility for the project, it has engaged dozens of partners, including other nonprofits, especially Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley and the Cultural Coalition of Allentown. Neighborhood residents are actively involved, having played a key role in the plan’s development. Many serve on the project’s steering committee and several subcommittees; some are leading those committees. Others on the subcommittees include local government representatives, representatives of the investor companies and local philanthropic organizations.
About CADC of Allentown
The Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown is a subsidiary of the Community Action Lehigh Valley, the premier anti-poverty agency in the region, with a $30 million budget and 100 employees operating a wide range of programs designed to improve the quality of life for low-income people in the region. Those programs include the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Sixth Street Shelter, Community Action Better Homes (housing initiatives like homeownership counseling and foreclosure mitigation and an array of housing rehab activities), and the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund that offers small business and microenterprise assistance and financing.
CADC Allentown offers neighborhood development programming in the neighborhoods of center city.
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