Home » Press Releases » Community Development Leader Selects Revitalization Fellows from Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Massachusetts (Press Release)

Community Development Leader Selects Revitalization Fellows from Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Massachusetts (Press Release)

February 11, 2020


Eighteen resident-activists to participate in national Community Revitalization Fellowship


News Release (PDF)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 11, 2020 — Today, the Center for Community Progress announced eighteen grassroots community leaders from across the nation have been selected and funded to participate in the 2020 Community Revitalization Fellowship (CRF); which will train Fellows on how vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties can be transformed through “creative placemaking” community art projects and arts engagement.

The Fellows from Montgomery, AL, Reading, PA, and Fitchburg, MA will participate in a nine-month peer-learning exchange and trainings on how creative placemaking can fuel their own community projects which range from alleyway concerts to library “dance sanctuaries.”

“Neighborhood vacancy and abandonment solutions have to be as creative as the problems they solve,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, CEO and President of the nationally-focused Center for Community Progress. “These resident-leaders are already innovating in their backyard. We are excited to invest resources and education to help them expand their work.”

About the Community Revitalization Fellowship

The Center for Community Progress’ Community Revitalization Fellowship is an immersive peer-learning program that helps grassroots community leaders expand equitable revitalization in neighborhoods that have struggled with serious vacancy, abandonment, and disinvestment challenges.

Each year, six resident leaders from three communities travel the United States for onsite peer-to-peer learning exchanges, participate in skills training and leadership development, and receive funding to help support their local work.   Through the nine-month program, Fellows learn how local laws, partnerships, and funding can help stabilize neighborhoods; combatting vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

Alleyway Concerts, Main Street Festivals, and More Revitalization Projects from the 2020 Class

The 2020 Community Revitalization Fellowship cities, Institutional Partners, and community leaders include:

Montgomery, AL – Honoring Rich Civil Rights History in Revitalizing Communities

In Montgomery, Alabama, CRF Fellows will build on existing local collaborations between artists, writers, and business owners to revitalize neighborhoods across the city, including the King Hill neighborhood, home of well-known Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin.

Friends of Montgomery Clean City Commission, which works to strengthen and empower neighbors to engage in community action, will serve as the Institutional Partner by providing guidance and mentorship to Montgomery, AL Fellows who include:

  • Iesha Brooks
  • Kevin King
  • Wade Preston
  • Ka-Santa Sanders
  • Aquan Robinson
  • Rhonda Thompson


Reading, PA – Storytelling through Dance: Utilizing Vacant Spaces to Drive Citizen Engagement 

In Reading, Pennsylvania, CRF Fellows will build upon local creative placemaking efforts to improve the South of Penn neighborhood. Their existing efforts utilize the arts to engage neighbors in the co-creation of programs that transform vacant properties into community assets including dance performance space, playgrounds, and community gathering space for movie nights and block parties.

Barrio Alegria, who focuses on leveraging community engagement and the arts to drive individual transformation, will serve as the Institutional Partner by providing guidance and mentorship to Reading, PA Fellows who include:

  • Jeanette Buchanon
  • Kaylee Carpinteyro
  • Jose Garcia
  • Goldy Ghuman
  • Anthony Orozco
  • Morgan Thomas


Fitchburg, MA – Arts as Catalyst for Neighborhood Revitalization

In Fitchburg, Massachusetts, CRF Fellows are working to revitalize the North of Main neighborhood. Their efforts focus on music, art, and community education to engage residents in the revitalization of vacant property including implementing, “Activate Mill Street” through the transformation of a forgotten alleyway. Their work also includes “Salsa on the Riverfront,” “Porchfest,” and the “We Love our City” campaign

NewVue Communities, who works to create strong, healthy neighborhoods where residents live, work, and invest, will serve as the Institutional Partner by providing guidance and mentorship to Fitchburg, MA Fellows who include:

  • Emmanuella J. Demosthenes
  • Sam Godin
  • Leandro Lopez
  • Thomas Moser
  • Evelina Paulino
  • Casey Taylor


“The work that happens in these communities results in both local wins and opportunities to help other cities and neighborhoods across the nation,” said Courtney Knox, Vice President and Director of National Leadership and Education at Community Progress.

The Community Revitalization Fellowship is made possible by grant funding from the Oak Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. For more information on the program, fellows, or neighborhood revitalization, contact [email protected] or call (877) 542-4842 ext. 153.


About the Center for Community Progress

Founded in 2010, the Center for Community Progress is the national leader for building strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Today, Community Progress has affected change in more than 48 states and seven countries through leadership education and collaborative systems, policy, and practice reforms. Simply, we work to transform “Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places.” For more information, visit

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