The Rider-Pool Foundation

Executive Director’s Message

The creation of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) a few years ago gave the region an opportunity to see tremendous business and economic development growth. The Rider-Pool Foundation wants to ensure that the residents in that area of downtown Allentown also benefit from this renaissance.

We convened local funders to support the area’s nonprofit organizations in their collective impact efforts to help the families living in the city’s downtown. We want to encourage community engagement and open dialogue about the work to be done. We know that The Rider-Pool Foundation will lead by example.

We started by creating an innovative program called The Rider-Pool Foundation Collective Impact Fellowship that teaches nonprofit and community service directors how to work collaboratively on the issues impacting our citizenry. The Fellowship increases effectiveness by encouraging and providing tools for meaningful collaboration amongst organizations, and creates win-win-win strategies to enable comprehensive community development. In 2016, we welcomed the third class of Fellows who are learning how to effectively address and measurably improve the complex quality of life challenges within the NIZ through a new lens of nonprofit leadership.

Our support of Allentown School District’s Building 21 continued in 2016. The high school welcomed its second class of first year students in the fall, as the existing class of students matriculated to their sophomore year. The school’s format of teaching education essentials for half of the school day, then introducing students to career paths during the remaining half of the day has lead to an engaged group of teenagers who are thinking about their futures and the advanced training and education they will need to succeed. According to school administrators the school has better attendance and fewer behavioral incidents than other schools, leading to a more productive learning environment.

The Rider-Pool Foundation is proactively supporting initiatives to strengthen cross-sector partnerships needed to address complex, multi-system social issues. By participating in rapid prototyping, collaborative partners create rules of engagement, identify common focus areas, authentically engage the community, share metrics, and develop strategic business plans to better address complex issues like mental health, substance abuse, housing, and educational disparities.

The Rider-Pool Foundation will celebrate its diamond anniversary in 2017. As we look ahead to what this year holds, we reflect on the organization’s 60-year history and what it has accomplished to benefit residents of the Lehigh Valley. It started with one couple’s vision and a goal “to serve as a means to improve the quality of life in the community, to build on the community’s strengths and add to its vitality, and to increase the capacity of the community to serve the needs of all its citizens.” It has done that and more thanks to the vision and leadership of Leonard Parker Pool and Dorothy Rider Pool.

Edward F. Meehan
Executive Director