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PROMISE NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY HOLDING SERIES OF BETHLEHEM PUBLIC MEETINGS IN MARCH AND APRIL

Non-profit organization seeks public’s input on where to locate a new Bethlehem Promise Neighborhood.

A non-profit community organization based in downtown Allentown is planning to bring its program to Bethlehem and wants the public’s input on where it should be located within the city. To get that feedback it will be holding a series of public meetings in March and April.

The regional Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley established its first neighborhood in the Old Allentown Historic District in the city’s downtown seven years ago. The success of Allentown Promise Neighborhood has lead the organization to expand its model to the valley’s other two cities in the coming years. It began with a series of Easton Promise Neighborhood public meetings that were held last fall and which presented the research compiled on that city’s residents and quality of life. The City of Bethlehem is next on the organization’s list for public meetings.

Lehigh University’s Community Fellow Elena De Santis will present the data from her research at each public Town Hall meeting. De Santis conducted an environmental scan ofBethlehem, which covered general demographic information including education, economy, safety and stability, and health. The goal of the public meetings is to include the citizens of Bethlehem in the discussion that will help determine the best place to create a Bethlehem Promise Neighborhood.

Meetings will take place at:

Donegan Elementary School
1210 East 4th Street, Bethlehem
March 12 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley
520 East 4th Street, Bethlehem
March 13 from 10:45 – 11:30 a.m.
(Note: This presentation will be conducted in Spanish only.)

Additional meetings will be scheduled in the coming weeks and announced on the organization’s web site and social media accounts.

Light food and beverages will be provided to attendees at all public meetings, and giveaway items will also be handed out.

Examples of some of the data reported at the public meetings include:

·      Housing: 52.7% of renters pay 30% or more of their income towards their monthly rent, which is a housing affordability issue.

·      Income: There is a difference of $87,068 in annual median income between Bethlehem’s highest earning and lowest earning census tracts.

·      Poverty: 15.1% of Bethlehem families fell below the poverty line within the last 12 months. This percentage increases to 38.2% for single mother households.

·      Education: Over 57% of 11th graders at Freedom and Liberty high schools scored basic or below basic on math and science Keystone Exams.

·      Income: Median household income for property owners – $65,824; median household income for renters – $30,144.

Inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, the U.S. Department of Education’s federal Promise Neighborhoods program is an initiative designed to break the cycle of generational poverty by wrapping children in a pipeline of health, social, and educational supports from birth through college. It utilizes efforts to mobilize residents, community partners, educational institutions, and business leaders to ensure the success of children from birth to career so they will thrive, succeed in school and become vital members in the community.

About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Founded in 2007 by the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth through career. Promise Neighborhoods, a 501c3 non-profit organization, accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts, like Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Its office is located at 1101 Hamilton Street, Suite 345 in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org.

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