Summer Learning continues with tip sheets from United Way

School starts in our local districts at the end of this month or early next month.

There’s still time for Summer Learning with these helpful tip sheets from our friends at United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.


Get to know the PNLV Board of Directors: Edward F. Meehan, The Rider-Pool Foundation

Ed Meehan - Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley1. How long have you been the Chairman of the Board for PNLV, and what brought you to that volunteer position?

I have been a participant in PNLV’s evolution as a volunteer leader since its inception eight years ago. PNLV has only recently become an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization as of January 2015, so I have officially been Board Chair for four months. But really, my experiences as a kid growing up on the Lower East Side of NYC, and my life-long work and professional interest in strong, safe, healthy communities brings me to this service.

2. The nonprofit organization has changed quite a bit during its founding eight years ago. What do you think is its single biggest/most important change?

PNLV owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley for introducing the concept of place-based, locality development for academic success to the Lehigh Valley. The Harlem Children’s Zone was seen as a model. There have been many significant changes as PNLV matured. Three of the biggest are:

1) Acknowledging that the Lehigh Valley is not Harlem and our approach was going to have to be inclusive of the style, culture and strength of the neighborhoods in Allentown, Easton, Bethlehem. In other words, be who we are and play to our strengths.
2) Establishing PNLV as an independent not-for-profit organization with a dedicated board and outstanding staff.
3) Developing our skill in facilitating inclusive, participatory conversations with and for families, providing grounded factual data about the community viewpoint, and creating win-win-win opportunities for those who share the vision of our nine promises.

3. As PNLV expands across the region into Bethlehem and Easton, what are your goals for its continued growth as its board chair?

Often times we in the Lehigh Valley ask our not for profits to be all things to all people. Not surprisingly, the results are often times watered down and not to anyone’s satisfaction. Mindful of this, I am thrilled that PNLV has led the establishment of the first two Promise Neighborhoods (Allentown and Easton), hopefully with more to come. PNLV will become a trusted regional organization that is equally strong, involved and respectful of the neighborhoods and neighbors we serve.


Meet Community School Directors Amy and Ari of McKinley Elementary

  1. What sets your Community School apart from the others in the APN?

We are a small but happy school—we are a close-knit family, and we really value the friendships and relationships that are made here at McKinley. Thanks to the help of our wonderful partner, Rodale, we also have a beautiful community garden (and the only community school to have a garden!) This garden is  unique because all the classes really were a fundamental part of building and creating this dream.

  1. What is your school’s #1 goal for the current school year?

We have many goals and things to focus on, but our primary goal would definitely be to improve our families’ access to health services.

  1. How has your Community School’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Allentown helped your students?

Boys & Girls Club has always played such a huge role in supporting our school—whether it was through providing Backpack Buddies to 15 of our families, or helping assist families with Christmas gifts during the holidays, we really have benefited from having BGCA as our lead partner. This year, especially, we have come to depend on the Turner Street Girls Club a lot more because so many of our students are now participating in their after school programs, which are offered 5 days a week and are great learning supports for the students.

  1. What type of educational support do students as your school need the most?

I would definitely say that many of our students do need that 1:1 attention; whether it is homework help, or just receiving assistance with improving their reading/writing or math skills, our students need that positive attention and guidance, especially since many of their parents may be working and so they aren’t getting a lot of these very necessary educational supports at home.

  1. What made you want to be a Community School Director in Allentown?

CSD - AmyAmy Jahn de Torrez was working at Christ Lutheran Church and assisting with community outreach, when she soon found herself working with many of the McKinley families. She soon realized that she loved being in a school setting, and so much of her work at CLC was so interconnected with the role of a Community School Director, that moving over to McKinley was such a natural fit. Because of Amy’s relationship with CLC, the partnership of McKinley and CLC has only blossomed every year since. Amy loves to be able to help support and strengthen families through her role as a CSD, and truly has a gift for what she does.

Ari Kantrow—After serving all of last year as an Americorps VISTA member in two of Allentown’s community schools CSD - Aariel(Roosevelt and SMMS), I realized that working in a community school is truly a unique experience, and I really loved being able to develop such strong relationships with the families and support them and help their students succeed. After Amy decided to pursue student teaching for a few months and the opportunity to fill in as a CSD at McKinley arose and I began to meet the incredible staff and families of McKinley, I realized that there was no other place that I would rather be.


APN’s first-ever Block Party is tomorrow!

Our first-ever APN Block Party is almost here! The event is rain or shine tomorrow, and runs from 11 am – 3 p.m. on 8th Street between Chew and Gordon Streets. Be sure to stop in the APN office to register when you get there.

Be one of the first 100 people to register at the APN Block Party and get a free gift! The first 15 people will get a draw string APN bag, and the next 85 people will get an APN water bottle. Better get there right at 11 am when the party starts!

We’re excited to feature booths from 22 local organizations at this Saturday’s APN Block Party. Visit all 22 booths and get entered to win a $50 prize! Learn more at event registration starting at 11 am. A few highlights include:

  • Need health insurance information? Visit the AmeriHealth Caritas booth.
  • Have questions about public transportation? Visit the LANTA booth.
  • Learn how your kids can earn a bike when they visit the Community Bike Works booth.

Thanks to United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley President David Lewis for volunteering to be the first person in the dunk tank at tomorrow’s APN Block Party!  Think you can dunk him? Get there early and find out.

What part of tomorrow’s event are you most looking forward to?

  • 22 information tables from local non-profit groups
  • Cotton candy
  • games for children
  • face painting
  • bouncy house
  • dunk tank
  • basketball throw game
  • DJ/music
  • United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley President David Lewis being the first person in the dunk tank
  • Free gifts for the first 100 people who register at the event


Yamil Sanchez Rivera, Executive Director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Yamil Sanchez Rivera, Executive Director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley

After a six-month national search, downtown Allentown non-profit organization Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley has selected a new executive director.

Yamil Sanchez Rivera of Reading, Pa. started the job on Monday, January 6. He comes to the position with an existing knowledge base of not only the Lehigh Valley but specifically of downtown Allentown having lived in the city twice.

He attended Kutztown University where he earned his Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and also his Certification in Secondary Education for Chemistry. He went on to attend Lehigh University, graduating in May 2010 with a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

Most recently he was the Head of School and CEO for I-LEAD Charter School in Reading. Prior to that position he was Head of School at Kuumba Academy Charter School in Wilmington, DE. His career history also includes working for the United Way of Delaware and of Berks County. PNLV is a program of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

“I am excited to join Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley in their efforts to mobilize residents, community partners, educational institutions, and business leaders to ensure the success of children from birth to career,” said Sanchez Rivera. “I look forward to serving the children and their families of the Lehigh Valley alongside the many individuals who have invested their time and resources to create Promise Neighborhoods. As I begin my journey, I welcome the opportunity to learn more about existing efforts and discuss how, through collaboration, we can best meet the needs of children and families.”

“The concept of a Promise Neighborhood is a “big idea” – all children born in a neighborhood will thrive, succeed in school and become vital members in the community. We are delighted that Yamil Sanchez Rivera has chosen to become our Executive Director,” said PNLV Board Chairman Ed Meehan. “Yamil’s combination of talent, training, experience and approach to community service made him the standout choice. This is a good day for families and children across the Lehigh Valley. I’d also like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks and compliments to Kay Hughston of Crayola and her volunteer search committee comprised of leaders from across the region. Their national search attracted a large number of extremely qualified professionals.”

Sanchez Rivera’s duties at PNLV will include strengthening and expanding quality early childhood education to all families in the Allentown Promise Neighborhood; assisting the PNLV board in establishing an independent, regional not-for-profit organization; developing more complete measurements for tracking the success of children at the community level; working in partnership with other community leaders and not-for-profit organizations to create winning opportunities for agencies and families in the APN; and exploring cooperative efforts to expand the Promise Neighborhood model to other Lehigh Valley communities such as Easton’s West Ward and Bethlehem’s Southside. He will also lead the organization’s small staff of two employees.

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 through career. Promise Neighborhoods, a subsidiary of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts, like Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Its office is located at 347 N. 8th Street in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit






PNLV Executive Director Job Description

We’ve begun our search for the next Executive Director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. Below is the job description for interested candidates.


Position: Executive Director, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley

Open Date: 8/19/2013

Close Date: 9/30/2013

Salary Range: $80,000 – $100,000 (Compensation to be determined based on relevant experience and



The Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley seeks a dynamic, motivated and experienced Executive Director to convene the Promise Neighborhoods to achieve the shared vision and desired results of its residents and partners.

The PNLV Executive Director will:

  • Engage the community, provider partner (health, child care education services and other not for profit organizations), local government, funders, businesses, and other key constituents in the implementation of the Allentown Promise Neighborhood as a model for community building in the Lehigh Valley.
  • Serve as a catalyst for our community to embrace opportunities to substantially improving the lives of the children, families, and residents in the Promise Neighborhoods; resulting in extended support, and long term commitment to priorities, vision and mission of Promise Neighborhoods.
  • Act as lead staff to the governing body of PNLV. Develop meeting agendas, communicate with members to advance strategic direction, implementation and refinement of strategies and end results.
  • Act as the operational manager of the PNLV office(s), including direct supervision of any staff and volunteers.
  • Convene/co-convene committees, action teams, or other groups focused on advancing the mission, vision, and strategic direction of the Promise Neighborhoods.
  • Strategically represent the PNLV’s initiative to become an independent 501©3 organization including alignment with United Way and other community partners and funders.
  • Identify and develop financial resources necessary to implement and strengthen the Promise Neighborhood, as well as opportunities for expanded public/private partnerships
  • Serve as chief fundraiser for the APN by securing/leveraging new resources in collaboration with volunteers and community partners
  • Develop annual results-based accountability “report card” related to both systemic and customer strategies and results to share with key stakeholders and the community



Promise Neighborhoods of Lehigh Valley (PNLV) originated from a United Way initiative in 2007 based on the Harlem Children’s Zone model. PNLV commenced operations as a subsidiary of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley with the intent of becoming an independent 501C3 Organization in 2014.

The education improvement model for urban children evolved into a wraparound model that included not only children, but also parents and their environment.

Promise Neighborhood initiatives in other major cities were studied and replicated based on best practices and practical adaptation for the Lehigh Valley. The Allentown Promise Neighborhood is the initial venture for creating a network of Promise Neighborhoods that meet the greatest needs for education and neighborhood improvement in Lehigh Valley. PNLV is focused on supporting the development of the Promise Neighborhood in Allentown, while building support to replicate the model across the region.

Promise Neighborhoods of Lehigh Valley expect to be a convener of practical and proven solutions for the most serious barriers to education success and neighborhood vitality as defined by residents and the community.

Vision: Vibrant neighborhoods where every family is strong, every child born healthy, stays healthy, and every youth succeeds in school, graduates from college or other continued education and achieves life-long success

Mission: Fostering cooperation among Allentown Promise Neighborhood residents and with the Greater Lehigh Valley to create a safe, healthy, vibrant, inclusive neighborhood, which expects children to succeed in school and where adults and families thrive and want to live.




  • Seven or more years of increasingly leadership-based responsibilities involving but not limited to collaborative/multi-system initiatives, strategic planning, project management, supervision, and evaluation related to neighborhood-based work with children, teens, and families.
  • Proven record of outcomes based on optimal use of skills, resources and talent is a priority.


BA required, graduate degree preferred, in social work, community organization, education, nonprofit management, or a related field.


  •  Understanding of the philosophy, attributes, and practice of Promise Neighborhoods and related initiatives.
  • Understanding of philosophy and practice of place-based initiatives and collective impact principles
  • Understanding of the most critical challenges facing students, families, schools, and neighborhoods in urban centers similar to Allentown and Lehigh Valley communities.
  • Understanding of systems that serve people: education, human services, health, grants makers, funders, government, etc. and how those systems can be effectively integrated.
  • Understanding of results based accountability or similar measurements


  • Understanding, nurturing, and facilitation of complex relationships (e.g. with key stakeholders from education, business, health/human services, and government)
  • Bilingual in Spanish strongly preferred
  • Listening, mediating and negotiating among diverse partners with different points of view
  • Grassroots training – experience engaging and cultivating stakeholders in the community
  • Hard traffic management and project management skills
  • Ability to manage special events and forums with efficiency and effectiveness
  • Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks
  • Ability to develop and present compelling communications (oral and written)
  • Ability to act as both team leader and team member as appropriate
  • Ability to analyze, summarize, and effectively use quantitative and qualitative data
  • Proficiency in standard computer programs

Mental demands:

  • Duties require planning, organizing, and performing a variety of duties applying a wide range of procedures and rules.
  • Duties require attention to detail, high degree of accuracy, reliability, timeliness, alertness, and use of judgment.
  • Requires ability in verbal and written expression, creativity, and concentration.
  • Access to and use of confidential data where discretion/sensitivity is of utmost importance.
  • Mature judgment and confidence.

Physical demands

  • Frequently required to walk, sit, talk, and hear.
  • Occasionally required to stand, reach, stoop, and handle and/or lift and up to 25 pounds.
  • Must be able to visibly check for completion and accuracy and to retrieve and transmit information.
  • Use of general office environment equipment.
  • Will often need to provide own transportation around the Lehigh Valley area in order to attend meetings. Staff members who drive on organization business are required to provide a valid driver’s license and proof of automobile insurance.


Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals to perform the essential functions.

Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley are equal opportunity employers.



Interested candidates may e-mail, fax or mail a resume and/or cover letter including salary requirements to:


United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley

Attn: Mary Terp, Human Resource Manager

1110 American Parkway NE

Allentown, PA 18109

Phone 610-807-5712

Fax 610-867-7255