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Pa. Humanities Council Awards Grant to Scranton Non-Profit Collaborative led by SAF

SAF Grant Award Photo

Members of the Scranton Neighborhood Park Collaborative gather to celebrate the Civic Engagement Grant Award from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. From left to right: Jenny Blanchard, Director of Philanthropy, Scranton Area Foundation; Julie Schumacher Cohen, Director of Community and Government Relations, The University of Scranton; Natalie Gelb, Executive Director, Lackawanna Heritage Valley; Michael Hanley, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern PA; Sondra Myers, Senior Fellow for International, Civic and Cultural Projects, The University of Scranton; Jesse Ergott, Executive Director, NeighborWorks Northeastern PA; Gary Drapek, President & CEO, United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties; Laura Ducceschi, President & CEO, Scranton Area Foundation; Linda Mlodzienski, Director of Operations, Lackawanna Heritage Valley; Karin Foster, President, West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch; Molly Boylan, AmeriCorps VISTA, NeighborWorks Northeastern PA; Jack Finnerty, Director, Scranton Public Library.

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) has awarded a $50,000 civic engagement grant to a consortium of six local nonprofit organizations under the leadership of the Scranton Area Foundation. After a rigorous and competitive selection process, The Scranton Nonprofit Collaborative was chosen to receive the Pennsylvania Humanities Council Civic Engagement Grant Award.  The Pennsylvania Humanities Council decided to invest in the project because of SAF’s plan to engage West Scranton residents in the humanities and empower them to contribute to West Scranton revitalization through the Scranton Neighborhood Pocket Park Collaborative.  The grant supports community dialogue and planning that will influence the utilization of a neighborhood pocket park as a host site for public events and humanities programs in the community of West Scranton.

“We are truly honored by this award,” commented SAF President & CEO Laura Ducceschi.  “As Lackawanna County’s community foundation, the Scranton Area Foundation takes pride in its ability to bring together caring community leaders in the spirit of improving the quality of life for our residents.”   She adds, “The success of this proposal is a tribute to the neighborhood of West Scranton, its deep sense of civic pride, and dedicated community volunteers.”

As the anchor institution of the Neighborhood Park Collaborative, the Scranton Area Foundation will lead a consortium of six local nonprofits: Lackawanna County Library System, Lackawanna Heritage Valley, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania, United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, and the University of Scranton.  Sondra Myers, Senior Fellow for International, Civic, and Cultural Projects at The University of Scranton, will guide an Advisory Council in the design of humanities programs that inspire local residents to explore and discuss important issues, and ultimately to revitalize the community of West Scranton.

“The humanities are at the heart of The Scranton Nonprofit Collaborative pocket park project. Through collaboration and the sharing of personal histories, residents will play an integral part in shaping the use of their neighborhood space beyond the planning process. At the PHC, we believe such an inclusive process will better connect and build a collective identity, vision, plan of action, and community network among people from diverse backgrounds,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC Executive Director.

PHC designed the Civic Engagement Grants initiative to advocate for humanities-driven programs as an effective way to foster dialogue and to generate new ideas for a given community, its institutions, and most of all its citizens.

The Neighborhood Park Collaborative will fully develop the West Scranton site as a model and pilot project that can be replicated throughout the greater city of Scranton to include other neighborhoods and community groups.