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A major grant for the West Ward Urban Ecology Project

The Community Action Council of the Lehigh Valley has been awarded a grant of $730,000 over five years by the Wachovia Regional Foundation in support of a new initiative called the West Ward Urban Ecology Project.

The initiative leverages community assets in 10 distinctive neighborhood districts, or “cantons,” and five activity corridors in the West Ward, Easton’s largest and most diverse residential area, which extends east to west from Fifth to 15th streets and north to south from the Bushkill Creek to the Lehigh River.

The project’s goal is to forge a more creative, healthful, and connected community through programs for lower-income residents that support children and families, affordable housing and counseling, neighborhood building, and economic development. A special emphasis is on “Global Kids,” which focuses on helping at-risk children stay on track for school, work, and citizenship.

The project seeks to assure a balance of the community’s “urban ecology” – the function and interaction of beneficial human and natural resources and systems that sustain an urban community – by advancing affordable housing, citizen participation, creative initiative, cultural diversity, economic vitality, educational achievement, employment opportunity, energy efficiency, environmental health, generational interdependence, historic preservation, and public policy with practical, innovative, and sustainable methods. It follows environmental best practices, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Standards for Neighborhood Development.

The initiatives will establish the Easton-Phillipsburg, N.J. area as a leader in urban ecology for smaller metropolitan areas.

Lafayette is a partner in CACLV’s 10-year effort with Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Easton Hospital, and the City of Easton to spur revitalization of the West Ward through the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. The urban ecology project undergirds and integrates key aspects of Lafayette’s initiatives in environmental studies, supported by a recent grant award of $800,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Both grants complement efforts toward community-based learning, research, and action for sustainable communities and a sustainable planet.

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