Three years. Hundreds of volunteers. Seven corporate funders. Tax credits from Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development Department. Foundations, trusts, private funders, and non-profit agencies. Dozens of corporate leaders. And thousands of residents in Allentown’s center city neighborhoods who have felt the impact of Upside Allentown’s initiatives aimed at increasing quality of life, wealth and home ownership in the neighborhoods surrounding Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone. Upside Allentown presented its annual report to the community today detailing the outcomes to date while laying out the initiatives for continual improvement in Year Four of the campaign.

Several residents gave testimony to the impact Upside programs have had on their lives, including a homeowner whose façade was improved and a student of the Allentown Police Youth Academy.

Detailed reports were given on the improvements that had been made in the neighborhoods since the start of the initiative in 2014 through Neighborhood Partnership Program supported contributions provided by seven private businesses, as well as additional funds from the City of Allentown, Trexler Trust, Century Fund, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Rebeca Torres, an attorney whose practice and home is on 7th Street, and Co-Chair of the Upside Allentown Steering Committee, outlined accomplishments made in the 2016-2017 program year including:

  • Completed 800 code inspections
  • Transferred ownership of 12 vacant/blighted properties for rehabilitation
  • Completed rehabilitation of 1116 Maple Street into an owner-occupied property
  • Installed pedestrian streetlights and trees on four blocks of Turner Street
  • Completed 7 residential and 4 commercial façade improvement projects
  • Completed construction at Stevens Park and redesigned Valania Park
  • Awarded 7 “Love Upside” grants to neighborhood groups for beautification projects
  • Conducted 2, 19-week Start Your Business courses for 69 students, of whom 12 graduated and 9 businesses were started
  • Provided support to The Literacy Center for GED preparation and career counseling
  • Supported deployment of 25 foot patrol and bike patrol police officers along Seventh Street
  • Supported the enrollment of 55 middle school students in Youth Civilian Police Academy
  • Installed 9 porch lights and 10 solar lights on eligible houses on narrow streets
  • Organized the first Upside Allentown “Family Fun Fest” at Sacred Heart’s Sigal Center for more than 400 Upside residents
  • Launched 2 Artist-In-Residence programs in Jordan Heights Neighborhood and Old Allentown Neighborhood
  • Funded improved summer learning activities for 118 low-income children and youth attending Cleveland and McKinley elementary schools in center city
  • Supported 5 community engagement meetings in partnership with the Allentown School District to obtain parent and community input to the new ASD Strategic Plan.


Upside Allentown’s corporate funders include BB&T at $150,000 a year, TD Bank and PPL at $100,000 a year, and Alvin H. Butz, Inc., City Center Investment Corp., Lafayette Ambassador Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank at $50,000 a year.

Representatives from the Education and Arts and Culture subcommittees also reported on two significant and innovative projects that were recently launched.  Sean King, representing the Arts and Culture Subcommittee, shared results of the Allentown Arts & Culture 20:21 Plan that will be implemented over the next four years in Downtown Allentown and beyond.  Jill Pereira, co-chair of the Education Subcommittee, reported on their initiative to work with the Allentown School District on engaging the community in the conversation and implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Don Bernhard, Executive Director of Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative and Upside Allentown Steering Committee Co-Chair, highlighted key outcomes of three years of initiatives in downtown Allentown.  Upside is halfway through its six-year program and has shown encouraging outcomes in response to strategic investments.  Outcomes are identified in categories such as increased residential property values, crime reduction, reduction of residential and commercial housing vacancies, improved quality of life, accessibility to arts and culture, and employment opportunities, among others, as outlined in the attachment.

“We have concrete evidence after three years that these initiatives are touching people, changing lives, and improving quality of life in the neighborhood,” says Bernhard. “We have much more work to do in some areas such as increasing incomes, where we are only beginning to have an impact, however, we believe the data so far supports our goals and proves that additional investment in Allentown beyond the Neighborhood Improvement Zone will produce a return.”

Mayor Ed Pawlowski lauded the group of mostly volunteers who have contributed countless hours to this effort.

*          *          *          *

About Upside Allentown: Upside Allentown is a comprehensive approach to community development to ensure that Allentown’s NIZ and its surrounding neighborhoods grow and thrive together. More than 100 individuals representing dozens of groups and, perhaps most importantly, neighborhood residents are working together toward a common goal of a thriving city with abundant opportunity, quality, affordable housing, safe streets, active civic participation and lots of fun. It includes eight corporations contributing $550,000 per year and receiving tax credits from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, city government, the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown, local philanthropic foundations like the Harry C. Trexler Trust, The Century Fund, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation and the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative, Allentown School District, the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and others.


Download Projected Activities for Year 4 (2017-2018)





The media is invited to attend a press conference announcing outcomes of three years of activities and initiatives aimed at revitalizing the NIZ neighborhoods, elevating the quality of life for residents, and enhancing the experience for visitors and businesses. Upside Allentown involves almost 100 people and a comprehensive 6-year plan to guide it.  Initiatives for year four will also be shared. 


The City of Allentown, Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown and a coalition of stakeholders in the Upside Allentown initiative.


Friday, September 22, at 3:30 P.M.


St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
417 N. 7th St., Allentown
Community Center located adjacent to the Sanctuary



Alan L. Jennings: 610-248-9900
Margaret McConnell: 610-395-6871/484-241-6578

Upside Family Fun Fest

Upside Family Fun Fest

Thank you to all the families who attended the first annual Upside Allentown Family Fun Fest at Sacred Heart Hospital yesterday!  Volunteers served free food including hot dogs donated by Yocco’s, pizza, fresh fruit, popcorn and ice cream from the Udder Bar to more than 300 people from the surrounding neighborhood.

There were also free activities by several community organizations including Rodale Farmers Market, Sacred Heart Hospital, Community Bike Works, Allentown Art Museum, Habitat for Humanity, and Allentown Promise Neighborhood.

And attendees had the opportunity to enter a Raffle Drawing for Iron Pigs Tickets, family packs of tickets at Miller Symphony, AMP Downtown Allentown Gift Card, and Professional Bull Riding Tickets.  Raffle drawing will be announced next week!

Information was also available about the Upside programs such as streetscape improvement projects, façade restoration grants available for homeowners, education and workforce development opportunities, start your business initiatives and more.

The event offered a chance for inner city neighborhood residents to get together for unity and camaraderie.

Free Landlord Seminars in Allentown

Free Landlord Seminars in Allentown

Upside Allentown, a volunteer-driven comprehensive community revitalization initiative for center city, will again host a series of free seminar opportunities for residential rental property owners/landlords and managers on July 14 and 15, 2017. In partnership with Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown and with funds from the Department of Housing & Urban Development, the city is sponsoring the seminars and has engaged John Campbell of Campbell DeLong Resources to administer the eight-hour training sessions. The day-long seminars will take place at Sacred Heart Hospital Auditorium. The sessions will begin promptly at 8:30am and continue until 5:00pm with a one-and-a-half hour lunch break in between. Registration begins at 8:00am on seminar days. Pre-registration, however, is encouraged to confirm one’s attendance and reservation as seats are limited.

The training curriculum is adapted from a nationally recognized program developed by Mr. Campbell. The program helps rental property managers, owners and small landlords maintain a safe and attractive property while taking steps to reduce the opportunity for crime and related problems. Information about tenant screening, physical elements such as landscaping and maintenance, warning signs of drug dealing and usage, as well as fair housing are included in the training. This training is helpful to anyone who rents residential property — especially newcomers who may be unfamiliar with the recommended measures needed to avoid headaches later.

Although open to all residential landlords and tenants in Allentown, the seminars are intended to benefit small landlords in center city where more than 1,800 small landlords have modest “mom and pop” operations of typically one to 10 rental units, either in one structure or in several structures in scattered sites. In 2016 these small operations aggregately owned more than 4,200 registered rental units in center city alone, providing housing to at least 18,000 people. That number of people represents a little more than 71 percent of the population in center city.

The Allentown Police Department particularly urges property owners and managers, especially those operating rental units in and around center city Allentown, to attend. Space is limited, so advance registration is requested. For information and to pre-register, please call the City of Allentown Planning Department at 610-437-7613 during office hours, or send an email to

Click Here to download the brochure

Media Contact:
Jesus Sadiua

Two Exciting Arts & Culture Announcements on Tap April 20  at the Allentown Art Museum

Two Exciting Arts & Culture Announcements on Tap April 20 at the Allentown Art Museum

The newly-formed Cultural Coalition of Allentown will announce an exciting new “Authentically Allentown” Artist-in-Residence program on Thursday, April 20 at 4PM at the Allentown Art Museum as part of the Destination Arts: Third Thursday monthly celebration of the arts. A very special announcement and performance presented by the Allentown JazzFest will follow shortly thereafter at 6PM sharing highlights of the upcoming Allentown JazzFest 2017.


David Mickenberg, President and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley and Chair of the Cultural Coalition of Allentown, will be making remarks regarding the announcement of the first of three pilot Artist-in-Residence projects serving the neighborhoods as part of the Allentown Arts & Culture 20:21 Plan.


“The JazzFest Preview event on April 20th at The Art Museum is going to have a little something for everyone,” said Bryan Tuk, Executive Director of JazzFest.  “Obviously, we are looking forward to the performance by the Dan DeChellis Trio, but also this is really an occasion to recognize JazzFest’s artists, volunteers and sponsors.”  During the Third Thursday event from 6PM-9PM, which is free to the public, Mr. Tuk will preview the JazzFest 2017 schedule and reveal the official festival poster.


The Cultural Coalition of Allentown is an independent group of arts, business, education and government stakeholders who recently completed an 18-month strategic plan outlining the role of arts in the economic development of the Upside Allentown neighborhoods of the city. Please visit for more information.


For more information, please contact Sean King at or 610.554.0633.