NeighborWorks NEPA 2024 Beautiful Blocks Program

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania is pleased to partner with the City of Scranton, City of Carbondale, and City of Pittston to announce the block groups selected for funding in the 2024 Beautiful Blocks program cycle.

Our 2024 cycle will see a total of 155 properties in Scranton, 34 properties in Carbondale, and 44 properties in Pittston being awarded grant funding., NeighborWorks staff and local officials expect to see a significant positive impact in neighborhoods where projects are set to take place. A full list of groups receiving funding is attached to this release.

Beautiful Blocks is a home improvement program which provides matching grants of up to $1,000 per property to groups of residents to help them make exterior improvements to their homes. 2024 represents the debut of the Beautiful Blocks program in the City of Pittston, as well as the sixth consecutive program cycle in the City of Scranton, and the fourth consecutive cycle in the City of Carbondale.

Members of selected groups have until November 1 to complete their individual exterior home improvement projects, with all participating properties being eligible for up to $1,000 in matching grant funding. Participating properties in the City of Scranton that are completing sidewalk repair and replacement projects are also eligible for up to $4,000 in funding for their projects, in an effort to increase walkability in the Electric City. Resident groups are also eligible for a $500 stipend to conduct a community celebration or service project.
For our 2024 cycle, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania anticipates awarding $335,000 to projects in Scranton, $73,000 for projects in Carbondale, and $38,000 for projects in Pittston. The total of $446,000 awarded is the most in any year since the Beautiful Blocks program was launched in 2019.

According to NeighborWorks President & CEO Shane Powers, “Beautiful Blocks continues to be a powerful catalyst for community transformation, bringing residents together to enhance their neighborhoods. We are excited to announce our expansion into Pittston, adding to our existing communities in Scranton and Carbondale. This year, we saw an unprecedented level of interest in the program, resulting in the highest number of applicants ever for Beautiful Blocks. We deeply appreciate the support from our funding partners who make this growth possible and look forward to fostering even more physical improvements to homes and stronger connections between neighbors in all three communities.”

“Neighborhoods within the City of Carbondale continue to thrive!” Carbondale Mayor Michele Bannon said of the impact of Beautiful Blocks. “We have a record number of teams in our 2024 Beautiful Blocks program thanks to the incredible staff at NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania. We are excited to have multi-year teams returning and new teams forming relationships to make an impact on their neighborhoods together. Our neighborhoods formed because we need each other to succeed, and we enjoy building our lives within our communities together.”
“Thriving, United, Safe and Joyful…. that’s the City of Carbondale’s goal for our Neighborhoods!”

Beautiful Blocks in Carbondale is made possible with support from Coterra Energy, First National Bank, Wayne Bank, Honesdale National Bank, FNCB, NBT Bank, Gentex, and the Carbondale Lackawanna Industrial Development Corporation (CLIDCO).
“We are grateful for the positive impact NeighborWorks NEPA has on our neighborhoods through the Beautiful Blocks program,” Scranton Mayor Paige G. Cognetti said of the program’s impact. “This program brings residents together for a common goal, improves residences, and increases property values.”

Beautiful Blocks in Scranton is made possible with support from the City of Scranton, with additional support from the Regional Foundation, First National Bank, PS Bank, Coterra Energy, M&T Bank, Peoples Security Bank, and Community Bank, NA.
“I am extremely excited about our new partnership with NeighborWorks,” Pittston Mayor Michael A. Lombardo said of the program’s launch in his city. “Our initial phase of the beautiful blacks program has already proven to yield significant success. 44 total projects were approved and organized into five block groups. This program gives us another tool toward neighborhood revitalization. Congratulations to all participants.”
Beautiful Blocks in Pittston is made possible with support from Coterra Energy.

Over the first five cycles of Beautiful Blocks in the City of Scranton, more than 420 individual projects have been completed by Scranton residents, grouped into 57 block groups. More than $353,000 in grant funding has been distributed to as part of these projects, with participating residents contributing more than $923,000 in matching funds to improving their neighborhoods.

In the first three years of the Beautiful Blocks program operating in Carbondale, 12 groups of neighbors have participated by completing 73 exterior improvement projects, with more than $62,000 in grant funding awarded. This grant funding helped to leverage more than $140,000 in funds invested from participating homeowners.

Residents of Scranton, Carbondale and Pittston who are interested in participating in future cycles of the Beautiful Blocks program are encouraged to access more information by visiting the program homepage at https:// www.nwnepa.org/programs/beautiful-blocks.html. More information is also available by contacting Gerard Hetman, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Community Development Specialist, at (570) 558-2490 or ghetman@nwnepa.org.

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Inaugural Home Fair

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania will host its inaugural Home Fair on July 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton. This community-centered event aims to provide valuable information on housing health and safety, homeownership and affordability resources to residents of Lackawanna County.

The Home Fair will feature a diverse array of community resources. Attendees will have access to several homeownership resources, from lenders and realtors to home inspectors and insurance providers.

Additionally, the event will highlight essential home safety information on lead, radon, domestic violence and fire prevention.
This event is designed for all residents of Lackawanna County. Attendees will find valuable information, whether they are renters, prospective homebuyers, current homeowners, or those interested in learning more about home health and safety. Community members will have the unique opportunity to gather information and connect with various services in one convenient location.

The primary goal of the Home Fair is to equip community members with comprehensive resources they may not be aware of. This includes information on home health and safety, homebuying and home maintenance, and government entities that protect residents and consumers. By bringing these resources together, NeighborWorks aims to ensure critical information is readily accessible to the community.

“In bringing together multiple resources, we are providing options for our community in a single location, making gathering information on community resources easily accessible to those who need it most,” said Kathi Tavera, Home Ownership Specialist at NeighborWorks. “Our plan is to make this an annual event to allow for many community members to come to a single location and receive information on health & safety, housing affordability, and so much more.”

The Home Fair will also serve as a platform to bring new resources to the area. The event is slated to have representatives from various government programs and civil rights groups to provide necessary information on topics like Consumer Protraction and Fair Housing laws. The event will serve as a conduit for community businesses and non-profits to collaborate and learn more about each other’s programs too. This interconnectedness enhances the collective ability to refer clients to the appropriate services, ensuring that community members receive comprehensive support.

NeighborWorks NEPA Allen Park Concert Series

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania is announcing the return of the Allen Park Concert Series for its second year, starting June 14th and running through August 23rd. This year’s series will have a diverse mix of musical genres thanks to a new partnership with NEPA Scene.

As part of NeighborWorks’ mission to revitalize neighborhoods, the series will feature six bi-weekly outdoor concerts, offering a diverse range of musical genres from local artists. The concerts will take place every other Friday rain or shine from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Allen Park, located at 1100 Price St., Scranton, PA.

“The Allen Park Concert Series is a result of community outreach in West Side. Our 10-year resident-driven plan highlights a desire for free family-friendly community activities,” said Miranda Pace, West Scranton Neighborhood Coordinator at NeighborWorks. “We are thrilled to partner with NEPA Scene this year to expand our reach and enhance the concert experience. This also gives us more opportunity to coordinate additional elements like bringing in the Lackawanna County Master Gardeners (July 12) and having a bike rodeo (July 26).”
NEPA Scene, known for its deep connection to the local music scene, is coordinating the bands and assisting with promoting the event. Founder and editor Rich Howells, a West Scranton native, has curated a lineup of talented local bands spanning multiple genres including jazz, funk, pop, indie, and rock.

“NEPA Scene works hard to feature local artists of all kinds, so we made sure to include a variety of bands who could share both original songs and covers that anyone can enjoy,” Howells said. “I am a West Sider born and raised, so it feels great to give back to the community I’m from with free, all-ages shows with musicians from across Northeastern Pennsylvania that I believe everyone needs to hear. NEPA Scene also started right here in West Side nearly 10 years ago, so it’s all coming full circle.”

The concert series will feature performances from Running in Flip-Flops, Tori V & The Karma, The Contact Collective, Brendan Brisk Band, The Holtzmann Effect and Meet Me on Marcie. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from nearby small businesses, and parking is conveniently located across the street.
“We anticipate the event will make even more of a splash this year,” Pace added. “With NEPA Scene’s expertise in promoting local arts and our shared commitment to community engagement, we look forward to seeing everyone out and about enjoying the music and festivities.”

NeighborWorks Presented with Two Significant Awards

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania (NeighborWorks) received the Organizational Impact Award during the National NeighborWorks Association (NNA) 20th Annual Excellence Awards in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, April 10. Read more about the award here, and watch our nomination video here.

Additionally, NeighborWorks and the City of Carbondale were recognized for the expansion and sustained success of the Beautiful Blocks program in Carbondale with the Building Community Partnerships Award during the Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence ceremony, held at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg this past Wednesday, April 10. Read more about the award here.

NeighborWorks Kicks Off of West Scranton Events with Spring EGGstravaganza

NeighborWorks is hosting its second egg hunt in West Scranton on Saturday, April 13th at Novembrino Park (201 10th Ave, Scranton, PA). There will be music, community resources, games, and more from 11am to 3pm. The egg hunt will start promptly at 1pm and all ages are welcome. The event is free and will be held rain or shine, and participants are encouraged to bring their own baskets.

NeighborWorks is expanding the event this year to have more activities available to participants. The Youth Arts Coalition will be providing arts activities for children in attendance. Additionally, the Albright Memorial Library will be signing people up for library cards and have free books to give away. Friends of the Poor will have healthy snacks and information on their services available just a few blocks away from the splashpad. Fidelity Bank will have free ice cream from 12-2pm, PennDOT will have crosswalk safety demonstrations, and the PA Department of Health will have COVID test kits, tick prevention information, and more!

Both years, the event has been initiated and driven by West Scranton’s Image, Identity, and Events committee member, Vivian Williams. She has worked with West Scranton Intermediate School to get candy donations and volunteers to help fill the eggs with candy for the egg hunt. This year she will also be managing the volunteers during the event to make sure everything runs smoothly.

This initiative is part of NeighborWorks’ West Scranton Neighborhood Plan, a comprehensive 10-year strategy for improving the neighborhood. It kicks off a slate of annual events in the neighborhood, including the Allen Park Summer Concert Series, Fall Festival, and West Side Wonderland Tree Lighting.

Please contact Miranda Pace at mpace@nwnepa.org or 570-606-7359 for additional information.

NeighborWorks Taking Applications for Beautiful Blocks Program

Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, February 5 for the 2024 cycle of Beautiful Blocks, a home improvement program jointly sponsored by NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania and the City of Scranton, City of Pittston, and City of Carbondale. Beautiful Blocks provides matching grants of up to $1,000 per property to groups of five or more residents in participating communities to help them make exterior improvements to their homes.

The Beautiful Blocks program seeks to make neighborhoods throughout Scranton, Pittston, and Carbondale more attractive places to live. Eligible exterior improvements include everything from landscaping and painting to larger projects like sidewalks, front porch repair, door and window replacement, and more!

This is the first year Beautiful Blocks is available to residents of the City of Pittston. Also new this year, Scranton residents who decide to replace their front sidewalk are eligible for an additional $3,000 in grant funds, on top of the $1,000 standard grant and the property owner’s $1,000 match.
Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process. Applications will be judged on the number of participating residents, project impact and coordination, and the likelihood of neighbors continuing to work together in the future. Pre-applications are being accepted until.

Monday, March 18. Awards will be announced in May, with work taking place throughout the summer.
“We’re excited to kick-off the sixth year of Beautiful Blocks by expanding the program to the City of Pittston and offering a special incentive for Scranton residents to repair their sidewalks,” said NeighborWorks’ Director of Community Development, Todd Pousley. “Better sidewalks make a community more walkable, and other improvements to the outside of homes improve the quality of life for everyone who lives on a block.”

Over the first five cycles of Beautiful Blocks in the City of Scranton, along with the first three Beautiful Blocks cycles in the City of Carbondale, more than 500 individual projects have been completed by participating residents, grouped into 69 block groups. More than $418,000 in grant funding has been distributed to as part of these projects, with participating residents contributing more than $1 million in matching funds to improving their neighborhoods.

For residents in participating cities who are interested in applying for the 2024 program cycle, public information sessions will be held in each community next week:

Monday, February 5, 5:30 p.m., Carbondale Public Library (Community Room)
Tuesday, February 6, 6:00 p.m., Pittston Memorial Library (John P. Cosgrove Center)
Wednesday, February 7, 6:00 p.m., Scranton Public Library (Henkelman Room)

Scranton, Pittston and Carbondale residents interested in participating in the Beautiful Blocks program can download pre-application instructions and access the pre-application document (beginning Monday, February 5) by visiting www.nwnepa.org/programs/cd/beautiful-blocks.html.
More information is also available by contacting Gerard Hetman, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Community Development Specialist, at (570) 558-2490 or ghetman@nwnepa.org.

NeighborWorks to Host West Side Wonderland Initiative

NeighborWorks is kicking off the inaugural West Side Wonderland initiative which includes a series of events, celebrations, and deals at West Scranton businesses. From the captivating Tree Lighting Celebration to the exciting ‘Where’s Westley’ scavenger hunt with prizes to local businesses ranging from $50 to $1,400 in value, this initiative promises merriment, excitement, and cherished memories to all who participate.

On Saturday, December 2nd, Allen Park will become the hub of holiday cheer in West Scranton as it hosts a free Tree Lighting Celebration, starting at 4 pm. Families are invited to partake in cookie decorating, savor hot drinks, take photos with Santa, and enjoy sharing in a community celebration. The highlight of the evening unfolds at 6 pm when the tree lights up and we celebrate community and the coming of the winter season.

The ‘Where’s Westley’ scavenger hunt adds an extra layer of excitement to the festivities, encouraging participants explore West Scranton while supporting local businesses. From December 2 through December 19, riddles will be unveiled at 8 am on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/westsidescranton) to guide participants to Westley’s secret location. The first 20 people to find Westley at each business will receive a special prize. They can get a special passport stamped at each location to enter for a chance to win one of many prizes ranging in value from $50 to $1,400.

Shopping local takes on a new meaning during West Side Wonderland, as 14 local businesses join the festivities with exclusive deals and offers. Shoppers can mention the West Scranton Wonderland campaign to unlock these special discounts, adding warmth and charm to your holiday season. Visit westsidewonderland.com to view all the deals!

This initiative is part of NeighborWorks’ West Scranton Neighborhood Plan, a comprehensive 10-year strategy for improving the neighborhood.

NeighborWorks Northeastern PA Receives Multiple Awards

NeighborWorks Northeastern PA was recently recognized with two awards at the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency‘s housing counseling awards ceremony in Harrisburg yesterday.

NeighborWorks snagged the Community Partnership Award, and to top it off, Pamela Anslinger, HomeOwnership Center Manager at NeighborWorks, was named Best Housing Counseling Specialist.

Pam’s award is all about acknowledging housing counselors who go above and beyond to provide top-notch services to their clients. Pam earned her place thanks to her extensive experience in housing counseling, her National Housing Counseling Certifications, her knack for consistently helping folks achieve goals like purchasing a home or refinancing their mortgages, and for consistently receiving positive reviews from her clients.

The Community Partnership Award goes to agencies that have made a big impact by collaborating with local community organizations. The criteria for this award focuses on the quality of those partnerships and how they enhance our ability to provide top-notch counseling. The impact these partnerships have on the number of clients we can assist is key, and we’ve seen some incredible success stories come out of these collaborations.

NeighborWorks Celebrates Family Fun at the West Scranton Fall Festival

NeighborWorks had a wonderful time sharing in the fun at Clover Field and Allen Park for the second annual West Scranton Fall Festival, presented by PNC this past Saturday.

Activities across the day included food and entertainment, children’s activities, bounce houses, yard games, a fire pit, s’mores, live music, and more! Over 600 people attended the festival across both events.

They thank sponsors: presenting sponsor PNC Bank, gold sponsor Posture Interactive, silver sponsor Citizens Savings Bank, and bronze sponsors Bold Gold Media Group, Brianna Keeler from Comparion Insurance Agency, Fidelity Bank, the Scranton Area Community Foundation, and the University of Scranton.

Food vendors were El Buen Amigo, The Little Ladybug Bakery, Hangin with the Big Dogs, and Fidelity’s ice cream truck. Live music was provided by Tori V & The Karma and Grupo Zona.

We want to extend and additional thank you to the Youth Arts Coalition of NEPA, Scranton Fringe, Dani Long Legs and the Eclectic Circus, Kyle Mertz Juggling, DJ Cola, and our amazing volunteers!

This initiative is part of the NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania West Scranton Revitalization Plan.
Please contact Miranda Pace at mpace@nwnepa.org, or 570-558-2490 for additional information.