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SteelStacks Partnership for Education & Outreach Marks 7th Year of Providing Free Arts and Education Programming for Community

 

From sharing the joy of reading with hundreds of Bethlehem-area elementary school students to providing free arts and cultural programming to nearly 10,000 people annually at SteelStacks’ Sabor Latin Festival, a unique public-private partnership has quietly played a key role in helping transform Bethlehem’s SouthSide community over the past seven years.

Started in 2008, the SteelStacks Partnership for Education and Outreach is an education-based initiative uniting five corporate partners with the nonprofits ArtsQuest and PBS39. Over a 10-year period, the funding partners – Air Products, C.F. Martin & Co. Inc., Lehigh Gas Corp., PNC Bank and PPL Corp. – are investing $4.2 million in arts and education programs at SteelStacks that are designed help spur economic development on Bethlehem’s SouthSide and enhance the quality of life of Bethlehem-area school students, as well as all residents of Bethlehem and surrounding communities.

During the first seven years of the 10-year program, the partnership has committed $3.85 million to helping deliver more than 95 arts, education and cultural programs – all of them free – to residents of Bethlehem and beyond. And starting in 2015, the partners will help the two nonprofits present new programs such as ArtsQuest’s Urban Arts Festival in April, as well as PBS39’s Fireflies Musical Yoga for Kids, an educational and fitness program for ages 5-10.

“The SteelStacks Partnership for Education and Outreach has had an incredibly transformative effect on our community and our region,” says SteelStacks Partnership for Education and Outreach Advisory Committee Chair Donna Taggart. “Through the support of these community-minded corporate partners, ArtsQuest and PBS39 have been able to create and deliver a diverse array of arts, education and cultural programming for our community. These include programs that are teaching children to read, providing invaluable job skills for students and highlighting the region’s rich cultural heritage. This is an educational initiative that is making a huge difference in the lives of so many people, and for that we can’t thank our partners enough.”

Made possible through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Partnership Program, the SteelStacks Partnership for Education and Outreach was developed to help revitalize Bethlehem’s SouthSide, enhance the quality of life in the community and create new educational opportunities and resources for area residents. Among the programs that have been funded as a result of the partnership are after-school enrichment programs, family literacy programs and workshops, a teen mentoring program and more. Just a few highlights include:

Faces of the SouthSide (ArtsQuest) – Pairing area middle school students with a professional photographer to learn photography and job skills, this program helps participants celebrate their lives and cultures by photographing family, friends and neighbors.

PBS39’s Raising & Building Readers (PBS39) – A dynamic literacy program focused on building reading skills in the home for Kindergarten-5th grade students.

Levitt Pavilion Community Concert Series – Offers 50 free, family-friendly concerts, attracting more than 64,000 people to Bethlehem in 2014.

Sabor Latin Festival (ArtsQuest) – Celebrates the music, art, history and culture of the region’s Latino community.

Roey’s Paintbox (PBS39) – Provides hands-on art activities and educational experiences including workshops for area students.

B-Smart Afterschool Enrichment Program (ArtsQuest) – Delivers quality arts education programming to more than 200 Bethlehem Area School District middle school students throughout year.

In addition to supporting the programming at SteelStacks, the SteelStacks Partnership for Education and Outreach has played an important role in supporting economic development in the Lehigh Valley over the past seven years. Through the development of the SteelStacks campus and its programming, more than 300 direct and indirect construction jobs were generated, while 125-plus full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs have been created at the arts and cultural campus since its opening in 2011.