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Mini-Grants Awarded to Community Groups

Mini-Grants Awarded to Community Groups

The City of Allentown is awarding mini-grants totaling nearly $7,000 to nine community groups to revitalize city blocks. Mayor Ed Pawlowski made the award announcement at a news conference this afternoon in City Council Chambers attended by representatives of many of the applicants.

This first round of funding comes from the $25,000 Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant awarded to the city last December. Allentown was one of 23 cities receiving funding from more than 60 applicants.

The city’s goal is to utilize its base of volunteers and equip them with staff support and mini-grant dollars as they resolve identified neighborhood issues and replace the blight with beautification projects to be completed by July 15.

The “Love Our City” initiative engages individuals where they live, work and worship and provides a sense of ownership by having residents take control of neighborhood issues. With its focus on Mayor Pawlowski’s goal to sustain the city’s commitment to safe, clean and vibrant neighborhoods, it complements the city’s existing SERVE Allentown service plan.

The program also expands on the mayor’s Quality of Life initiative, which he created in 2006 to address neighborhood and community quality of life challenges. The mayor’s office has continuously focused on engaging new groups in Allentown to emphasize social responsibility.

According to Pawlowski, “This ‘Love Our City’ program builds on our Quality of Life initiative, my neighborhood walks, the Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance and the Allentown Police Department’s community policing strategy all of which encourage proactive public nuisance abatement. The grant initiative proposes to increase resident participation as a way to sustain neighborhood attractiveness, safety, and resident quality of life by engaging volunteer residents in low risk, high impact neighborhood improvement projects.”

“Using volunteers, youth and adults, from schools, faith based groups, community groups as well as interested individuals, the city is coordinating this initiative to revitalize and clean up neighborhoods one block at a time, said Pawlowski. “Schools, Faith based leaders, neighborhood watch groups, and community organizations are assisting the city in identifying blight in their neighborhoods and recruiting volunteers to eradicate blight where they live, work and worship.”

A second round of grant applications will be made available this summer.

The Cities of Service model focuses on impact volunteering – volunteer strategies that target community needs, use best practices, and set clear, measurable outcomes to gauge progress. Dozens of cities across the nation have adopted the model since its introduction in 2009.

Grantee cities were selected based on the quality of initiative proposals, scale and potential for impact, and caliber of implementation plans, among other criteria. Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund initiatives address issues in the Cities of Service priority areas of education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, preparedness and safety, sustainability, and veterans. The program is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

About Cities of Service

Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of over 180 mayors committed to addressing critical city needs through impact volunteering. American cities face serious challenges and many mayors want to take advantage of every resource available to them – including the time and energy of public-spirited residents – to address those challenges. But in cities across America today, citizen service is often an underutilized strategy by municipal governments. By leveraging citizen service strategies, Cities of Service helps mayors address local needs and make government more effective. To find out more about Cities of Service, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter @CitiesOfService. 


Love Our City Grant Awardees for Round 1

1.      Community Action Development  Committee – Allentown (ADC) - A Kathleen Kaplia

·         Grant Awarded:      $750.00

·         Project name:          Urban Gardens Project

o   3 block north of Tilghman Street, 100 row homes, 78% owner occupied

2.      McKinley Elementary Community School – Principal Richard Kern / Amy Jahn de Torrez

·         Grant Awarded:      $750.00

·         Project name:          Community Garden

o   School playground

3.      Chew Street – Vilma Rosario

·         Grant Awarded:      $750.00

·         Project name:          Living Wall Planters

o   500 block of Chew Street

4.      Old Fair Grounds Neighborhood Association – Milagros Canales / Patricia Jackson

·         Grant Awarded:      $750.00

·         Project name:          Plant flowers in tree wells

o    OFNA neighborhood

5.      400-500 Block of  West Gordon Street – Beverly Sweeney

·         Grant Awarded:      $750.00

·         Project name:          Community group

o   Plant flowers

o   Clean and replant tree wells

6.      United Youth – Roberto Clemente Charter School – Michael Frassetto

·         Grant Award:          $750.00

·         Project name:          Beautify Front & Gordon streets

o   Create planters

7.      Old Allentown Preservation Association – Wendie Lazansky

·         Grant Award:          $750.00

·         Project name:          Rose Gardens

o   Plant rose gardens along Chew Street

o   fencing of Union & West End Cemetery

8.      The Liberian Association of Northeastern PA – Beatrice Karnga-Gray

·         Grant Award:          $750.00

·         Project name:          Facelift to Jordan Park

o   Repair, repaint bathrooms facilities

o   Repair, repaint pavilion picnic benches

9.      Lifechurch – Mosser Woods and Elementary School – Christian Sawyer

·         Grant Award:          $750.00

·         Project name:          Mosser Project

o   Clean areas around Mosser School

o   Clean park path and plant a butterfly garden in Mosser Woods

During round 1, the Love Our City grant will grant a total of $6,750.00 to the 9 applicants. Projects begin April 15th and with completion by July 15th, 2014.

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