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Wednesday 18 October 2017
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SSJ Neighborhood Network to Receive $1.56 Million Corporate Investment

ERIE – The Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network (SSJNN) announced that it will receive investments totaling $1.56 million from Erie corporations toward SSJNN neighborhood revitalization initiatives.

Through the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit program of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, five corporate partners have pledged investments over the next six years, including: Highmark Health Insurance Company ($900,000), Marquette Savings Bank ($300,000), Northwest Bank ($300,000), Erie Insurance ($50,000) and PNC Bank ($10,000).

The SSJNN, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, is dedicated to providing leadership, advocacy and collaboration with the communities it serves to develop opportunities for personal growth and neighborhood revitalization.

Through the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Revitalization Project, the SSJNN will implement a number of project activities related to the following revitalization objectives: Neighborhood beautification; Community engagement; Crime reduction and increased feeling of safety; Education and empowerment; Job training and economic development and Community connectedness and meeting the needs of neighbors.

“The SSJ Neighborhood Network is overwhelmed with gratitude to these local companies who are investing so tangibly in the Erie community, as well as to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, who makes this tax credit program possible,” said Heather Caspar, executive director. “In addition to helping us meet the daily needs of individuals, the revitalization goals we can accomplish with these funds will make a lasting, visual impact, creating opportunity for neighbors and neighborhoods right across the heart of Erie. We are excited to partner with so many to accomplish these revitalization goals.”

Project Activities Across All SSJNN-Covered Neighborhoods:

In the neighborhoods from 14th to 26th streets, stretching west to east from Cranberry Street to East Avenue, project activities will include:

  • Installation of 10 video surveillance cameras in areas that have been designated by the City of Erie Police Department and Neighborhood Watch groups as hot spots for criminal activity throughout the neighborhoods.
  • An Urban Farming Project, which will pair six neighborhood youth, ages 14 to 16, with adult mentors to work in the SSJNN Community Gardens. The youth will be paid for their work in planting, tending, harvesting, marketing and selling produce at the Neighborhood Network’s weekly Farmers Market. They will keep a percentage of the proceeds.
  • Opportunities for neighbors to participate in one of five community gardens. The program also includes a dollar-for-dollar match for customers using supplemental nutritional assistance program allowances (i.e. SNAP, WIC and Senior produce vouchers).
  • A Pedal Mettle Earn-a-Bike Program that awards bicycles to youth who complete a mentor-guided 12-hour bike maintenance and repair and safety training class.
  • An interactive design competition to create and install one urban art bus shelter that includes green technology on 18th and State Street
  • A Career Awareness and Readiness Program for students in grades K to 5 at McKinley Elementary and eighth graders at Wilson Middle School, including a rotation of 16 different work environments.

Project Activities Concentrated in Erie’s Historic Little Italy Neighborhood
Over a period of six years, Historic Little Italy, which runs from West 14th to 18th streets and from Liberty to Sassafras Street, will see the following changes:

  • The purchase and removal of one blighted property per year, with a greenspace to be created in its place.
  • The purchase and renovation of one property annually for use in the Genesis homeownership development program, which aids families with an affordable residence, while preparing them to meet the requirements for eventual home ownership.
  • Ten façade improvements each year
  • At least four community clean-up efforts annually
  • Three community engagement events each year
  • One urban art mural or installation annually

For more information on the SSJ Neighborhood Network, volunteer and donor opportunities, call 814/454-7814 or visit www.SSJNN.org.