Neighborhood Resource Center, Community Services for Children, Allentown, PA


City Center Investment Corp. and Community Services for Children today held a virtual ribbon-cutting on Facebook for the “Neighborhood Resource Center” at The Learning Hub. The Learning Hub is their joint initiative that provides school-day, after-school and summer programing for local children and parents in need in a City Center-owned building at Sixth and Linden streets in downtown Allentown.

The Neighborhood Resource Center will offer additional child-and family-oriented services in collaboration with community partners, including Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and Allentown School District, within the building that houses The Learning Hub. City Center has donated additional space for the Neighborhood Resource Center.

Programs and services provided at the Neighborhood Resource Center will include:

  • Head Start/Early Head Start registration with a Head Start Enrollment Specialist stationed at the Neighborhood Resource Center Monday through Friday for the convenience of families and to increase the efficiency of the enrollment process, which includes an application and family interview.
  • The Healthy Start program with Valley Health Partners, a LVHN organization, will provide health education, referrals and parenting support to families with children ages 0 – 5. LVHN has hired an additional Community Health Worker to be based at the Neighborhood Resource Center to provide those services, funded with support from The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. Valley Health Partners will collaborate with Head Start’s on-site staff, addressing specific health needs of The Learning Hub families who require more specialized health support and working together to make sure their treatment needs are met.
  • A Kindergarten Jumpstart Center funded by The Century Fund to support successful transitions for preschoolers into kindergarten in Allentown School District and expand family-engagement services. Programming offered at The Learning Hub aligns with that of the Allentown School District, and Head Start coordinates with the district’s neighborhood elementary schools to engage parents in district initiatives.
  • A permanent, easily accessible Early Learning Resource Center on-site. Operated by Community Services for Children, this program, which assesses family needs, helps families apply for early learning and subsidized childcare, and supports childcare providers, previously utilized a conference room within The Learning Hub. The Early Learning Resource Center is focused on serving as a single point of information and access to a variety of critical community resources.

“As more and more people in downtown Allentown are tapping into the programs at The Learning Hub, we are finding that families really need additional resources based within their own neighborhood,” said Community Services for Children CEO/President Paula Margraf. “The colocation of various resources really helps improve communication and, more importantly, create efficiency for families. We’re excited to expand our services and partnerships, and we’re grateful to City Center for donating additional space downtown to make the Neighborhood Resource Center possible and easily accessible for our neighbors in need.”

City Center V.P. of Sales & Marketing Jill Wheeler added, “At City Center, our vision is to help create a vibrant, thriving community in downtown Allentown. We believe that for communities to thrive, students need access to solid early education, and parents need walkable access to resources that strengthen their families and our community.”

“At Lehigh Valley Health Network, we know that we are not accomplishing our mission to heal, comfort and care for our community unless we are properly caring for the most vulnerable members of the community, and that certainly includes our children and families,” said LVHN President and CEO Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP. “We applaud City Center Investment Corp. and Community Services for Children for this latest initiative that focuses on helping families meet their daily needs with critical services right in their neighborhood. A commitment of LVHN is to provide care and services close to home in all the locations we serve, and this effort certainly does that in downtown Allentown.”

City Center and Community Services for Children launched The Learning Hub in September of 2018 with a shared vision to create a vibrant learning community with strong family engagement in children’s education. A primary goal of The Learning Hub is to ensure school readiness and success for disadvantaged children by leveraging the resources of Community Services for Children’s Head Start and other partners. City Center provided leadership and nearly $1.3 million in design and construction costs for the renovation of the 14,916-square-foot space, and along with Community Services for Children, convened partners for the initiative.

Currently at The Learning Hub, Head Start provides learning opportunities for 150 preschool children and their parents from the surrounding neighborhood who are living in poverty.

Research shows that children attending high-quality early-learning programs are more likely to stay in school, are more successful in school, graduate, engage in less risky behavior and are more likely to become successful adults.