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Promise Neighborhoods staff members volunteer at Teacher Appreciation Luncheon

The staff of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley was proud to participate in the recent Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at William Allen High School in Allentown.

Along with Principal Shannon Mayfield, administrators, students and community volunteers, we served a buffet-style lunch to these educational professionals. Retirees were announced and recognized for their years of service.

This annual luncheon recognizes the teachers for all of their hard work throughout the school year.

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Free Vision Clinic by St. Luke’s Mobile Vision Van on 6/10

The St. Luke’s Mobile Vision Van will be providing a free Vision Clinic:

When: June 10 from 9 am – 1 pm

Who is eligible: Allentown residents with no vision insurance coverage

What services: A vision exam, and if needed, one pair of glasses. All at no cost.

Where: Mosser Family Center, 614 S. Carlisle St. Allentown at the St. Luke’s Mobile Vision Van

For more details, and to schedule an appointment, call Adrienne Maio at 610-820-4068.

NOTE: Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a guardian; appointments only – no walk-ins.

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Promise Neighborhoods’ Executive Director to Resign in June

Ernest Perry, Executive Director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley based in downtown Allentown, is resigning effective June 30 to return to his hometown of Columbus, OH and be near his family.

The non-profit organization will continue its work under the direction of its Board of Directors, chaired by Edward F. Meehan, while the board members plan for its future.

About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Founded in 2007, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth thru career. Promise Neighborhoods accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts, like Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Promise Neighborhoods is a subsidiary of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Its office is located at 347 N. 8th Street in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit their web site at www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org.

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Promise Neighborhoods supports the Walking School Bus

The staff of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley is pleased to support the Walking School Bus in the Allentown Promise Neighborhood downtown by volunteering to escort students to school. Central Elementary School, one of the three elementary schools located inside the APN, has a Walking School Bus since there is no bus system to provide transportation to all of the students who go there.

Walking School Bus

WSB volunteers include Central Elementary school staff (principal and assistant principals, teachers, community school director), parents, and community volunteers.

Each morning before school, three volunteers walk down the streets of Center City Allentown ringing a bell to get everyone’s attention. The bell is actually the most recognizable thing about the WSB since everyone can hear in the distance and knows what it signals. Volunteers wear orange and yellow vests and carry stop signs to be used for street crossings. Parents greet the volunteers at their doors and the kids line up behind the volunteers. The adults safely guide them on their walk to school as the children wave goodbye to their parents.

Walking School BusDepending on the day, anywhere from six to 40 children take advantage of the Walking School Bus. It creates a safe pathway for kids to get to school and fosters a sense of community. We are proud to have the WSB in our neighborhood and even more proud to be a part of it!

 

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Promise Neighborhoods Announces New Interactive Web Site

Designed by 401! Creative in Allentown, site helps partnership engage community and communicate impact


Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley has launched a new web site – www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org – as an online hub for engaging communities, a resource for supporting the success of children, and to communicate the impact of programs and investments in its Allentown Promise Neighborhood project.

The interactive web site was designed by 401! Creative in Allentown over the past several months. Its homepage features a mosaic of images of children and families from within APN’s nine-square-block area of the Old Allentown Historic District that it serves.

Promise Neighborhoods works to ensure children living in the region’s Center Cities graduate from high school prepared to enter college or pursue the careers of their choice. It is a partnership of residents, schools, community-based organizations, philanthropists, public officials, and area business leaders committed to providing young people in Promise Neighborhoods with the resources they need to succeed in school and building neighborhoods where families want to live, children are expected to learn, and opportunities for residents to lead abound.

“Our website pushes the experience of being in a Promise Neighborhood beyond the neighborhood boundaries and captures the power of these partnerships to reimagine the way we build community, and ensure the processes we use to ensure the success of children,” said Ernest Perry, Executive Director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley.

“Designing and developing the Promise Neighborhoods website was an opportunity for 4O1! to flex our creative muscle on a site that benefits our community,” said Curtis C. Johnson, Co-Founder/Art Director at 4O1! Creative, a Division of Weidenhammer. “Given the focus of the partnership, we were able to make the site fun and interactive in a young, fresh way. We all enjoyed working on this project, and look forward to seeing how Promise Neighborhoods is better able to reach their community through their new digital platform.”

The site’s main navigation includes:

  • About Us – this section explains the history of the organization’s founding and what it does in the community. It also features a list of Community Partners, as well as a list of founders and volunteers serving on the Board of Directors and the Success Networks. Staff members’ contact information is also located here.
  • Our Promise – The four tenets of Promise Neighborhoods are detailed in this section:
    • Ready to Learn
    • Safe and Supported
    • Great Schools
    • Graduate and Succeed
    • Get Involved – Anyone who wants to support Promise Neighborhoods will find ways to do so in this section of the site. They can find out how to Become a Partner, Make a Promise, and Be the Change. A Calendar of Events features programs and events from throughout the Allentown School District.
    • Learn More – The APN blog is located in this area of the site with weekly updates on things going on in APN. Resources offers links to related web sites for more information. The Report Card page features important facts and statistics to monitor students’ educational progress, the quality of life in the neighborhood, and support for Promise Neighborhood’s priorities.

The new web site also links to the organization’s social media presence on Facebook and LinkedIn as well as a sign-up area for Community Alerts.

About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Founded in 2007, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth thru career.  Promise Neighborhoods accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts, like Allentown Promise Neighborhood.   Promise Neighborhoods is a subsidiary of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Its office is located at 347 N. 8th Street in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit their web site at www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org

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Promise Neighborhoods, Allentown School District, and Crayola partner to get kids ready for Kindergarten

Kindergarten Readiness ToolkitIt’s time for families in Allentown Promise Neighborhood to sign their children up for Kindergarten at Cleveland, Central, or McKinley Elementary School.  This year, hundreds of Promise Neighborhood parents walked away from  Allentown School District’s annual Kindergarten sign-up ritual with a backpack full of learning materials from Crayola, and a guide that provides month-by-month summer activities that will help them get their child ready for school in the fall.

The Kindergarten Readiness Team at Allentown School District provided Promise Neighborhoods with a list of household items every parent can use to support their child’s learning during the summer months.

Crayola provided crayons, sidewalk chalk, Play Dough, and other learning aids along with 250 of its Art Buddy Backpacks to hold the materials.  Promise Neighborhoods hosted assembly teams made up of Allentown School District outreach staff and parent liaisons, as well as volunteers from Community Services for Children to put each Toolkit together and will ensure the “Kindergarten Readiness Toolkits” are in the homes of every incoming Kindergartner living in Allentown Promise Neighborhood.

Allentown Promise Neighborhood’s Early Learning Network works tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of high quality early education and Kindergarten Readiness within the neighborhood.  Their efforts, like the Kindergarten Readiness Toolkit distribution, have caused people to take notice and ask how they can help young people in their neighborhoods.  Other Allentown elementary schools, including Washington and Dodd, are exploring how they can replicate the Kindergarten Readiness Toolkit distribution for children coming to their schools next fall.

Want to build your own Kindergarten Readiness Toolkit?  Contact us to learn how.

 

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We’re in the news!

In the past two weeks news about our Universal School Readiness Program and the related study currently under way by Kamran Afshar has been making headlines.

We were featured in The Express-Times as the subject of that week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.

We were also the subject of a news segment by WFMZ TV’s 69 News in which Executive Director Ernest Perry was interviewed on camera.

We are very excited to be getting the word out to the Lehigh Valley community on Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley and our Allentown Promise Neighborhood!

 

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PNLV coaches Odyssey of the Mind team for McKinley

For decades, schools in the Allentown School District have participated in the Odyssey of the Mind program, a tradition that continues today.

Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley was honored to be asked to assist the 4th and 5th grade McKinley Elementary School Odyssey of the Mind team when it performed at the Odyssey of the Mind Competition for Southeast Pennsylvania at Penn Ridge High School on March 9.

PNLV’s own Dawn R. Robinson, Executive Assistant for Strategic Initiatives, accompanied the team on the trip and acted as a co-coach along with McKinley teacher Kelly Stoops. Amy Jahn de Torrez, Community Schools Director for McKinley, and Principal Richard Kern also provided support.

Odyssey of the Mind
The 4th & 5th Grade team from McKinley Elementary School in Allentown.

Odyssey of the Mind is a competition among students in kindergarten through college.  Schools gather to compete against their appropriate grade levels at the regional, state, and international level.  Odyssey of the Mind promotes creativity and problem solving, while emphasizing team building skills.  The competition is a great way to tap into the creative minds of students.

This dynamic team of seven had been practicing since November 2012 in preparation for the Pennsylvania regional competition.  This is the second year McKinley Elementary has participated in Odyssey of the Mind, and it will be gearing up for entry into their third competition in 2014.

If you are a Lehigh Valley school that is not currently participating in Odyssey of the Mind, find out how here.

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Universal School Readiness Program being considered for children in Center City Allentown

The Lehigh Valley’s leading economic and research expert, Kamran Afshar, Ph.D., has teamed up with Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley to design a program model that guarantees every child living in Allentown Promise Neighborhood will have access to one year of high quality, School Readiness experiences before they enter Kindergarten.

The program will address costs, accessibility, and other barriers that have kept the youngest residents in Allentown Promise Neighborhood’s nine-square-block area of the Old Allentown Historic District from entering Kindergarten, at Allentown schools, ready to learn. At present 21% of the nearly 450 children under age 5 living in Allentown Promise Neighborhood are participating in School Readiness programs of varying quality. Participation is much higher for the rest of the Lehigh Valley where 33% of the region’s children are actively enrolled in a School Readiness center, site, or program.

The Allentown Promise Neighborhood program design is timely as it is in line with the goals of Pennsylvania Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.’s “Prepare All Kids Act of 2013,” which was introduced to the U.S. Senate in March of this year. The bill provides broad outlines for a voluntary high-quality universal prekindergarten program that is similar to the $75 Billion program described during President Barack Obama’s education budget briefing last week.

“Children who have high quality school readiness experiences do much better when they arrive at school in Kindergarten,” said Ernest Perry, Executive Director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. “For children growing up in economically distressed neighborhoods, access to these experiences can be the difference between success and failure in their lives as students and as adult members of our communities. For the past year, we have convened an Early Learning Network that works collectively to impact the level of Kindergarten Readiness for children living in Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Having Dr. Afshar on our team gives our neighborhood efforts a data-driven quality that is not typically seen beyond state or federal programs.”

The completed model will provide Promise Neighborhoods with a powerful tool that demonstrates how focused investments in the right mix of high-quality school readiness experiences can improve the trajectory of an entire neighborhood. Feedback from focus groups of parents living in Allentown Promise Neighborhood, members of the Allentown Promise Neighborhood Early Learning Network, and other community stakeholders is being gathered as a part of the program’s design process. These focus groups are being conducted by Dr. Afshar at various locations around the Lehigh Valley and at the Promise Neighborhoods office at 347 N. 8th Street.

The program design is being funded by a grant from The Century Fund, which also supports the activities of the Promise Neighborhoods Early Learning Network. A final program model is expected by late summer, with a full report and public discussion of the design anticipated in early fall.

“The numerous benefits of early childhood education for the community are well researched and documented,” said Dr. Afshar. “Here at KAA, Inc. we feel privileged to have the opportunity to work on this important project. We hope that our work contributes to improving the quality of education for children and ultimately builds a better community for us all.”