The Center for Community Progress announced today six Reading residents have been selected to join the 2020 Community Revitalization Fellowship; a nationwide training program that aims to grow resident-driven efforts to combat vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

For 2020, Fellows will travel to creative placemaking sites across the country to experience the work of their peers and receive expert-led training and leadership development on how to use the arts to transform vacant homes and lots.

“Neighborhood vacancy and abandonment solutions have to be as creative as the problems they solve,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, CEO and President of the nationally focused Center for Community Progress. “These resident-leaders are already innovating in their backyard. We are excited to invest resources and education to help them expand their work.”

South Penn Work Attracts National Attention

Fellows from Reading were recognized for their ongoing work to revitalize the South Penn neighborhood through creative placemaking; which leverages the arts to transform vacant properties. Residents there have leveraged vacant buildings and lots to create dance performance space, playgrounds, and community events spaces for movie nights and block parties.

The Fellowship aims to expand efforts to reduce the number of vacant and abandon properties locally while preserving the history and identity of America’s neighborhood.

“Reading’s work is more than a local win. We believe their efforts can help cities and neighborhoods across the nation,” said Courtney Knox, Vice President and Director of National Leadership and Education at Community Progress.

Barrio Alegria, whose focus is on leveraging community engagement and the arts to drive individual transformation, will serve as the 2020 Institutional by providing guidance and mentorship to Reading, PA Fellows.

Reading Fellows will join 12 community leaders from Fitchburg, MA, and Montgomery, AL to learn best practices from cohort members whose neighborhood projects range from alleyway concerts to main street activations.

Fellows from Reading include:

  • Jeanette Buchanon
  • Kaylee Carpinteyro
  • Jose Garcia
  • Goldy Ghuman
  • Morgan Thomas
  • Anthony Orozco

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to learn what other communities are doing, and to show what Reading can do to help the nation,” said incoming Fellow Goldy Ghuman.