WHO WE ARE
The Eastside Grassroots Coalition was founded in December of 2016 when two community organizations, the Urban Erie Community Development Corporation and the House of Mercy decided to combine their efforts and tackle the bigger issues facing their neighborhoods together. After enlisting the help of consultant Emily Miller-Cook, they were able to apply for and subsequently receive a grant from the Erie Community Foundation to start holding monthly community meetings and engage residents to determine the best way they could serve them and their neighborhood.
The first such meeting was held in January of 2017. Through it and the following community meetings, residents decided on the boundaries of the organization which is bordered by East 12th Street to the North, Franklin Avenue, Bird Drive, and Groveland Avenue to the East, and the Bayfront Connector to the West and South. For a comprehensive look at our neighborhood, check out our maps here. A Core Team was also established to guide the monthly meetings and start making progress towards what changes the residents were asking for.
The residents, together with the Core Team, identified the biggest areas of concern they had for their neighborhood, creating our Guiding Principles which you can find here. The Eastside Grassroots Coalition then began conducting research and took the resident feedback from each of the community meetings to create a "Report and Action Plan" addressing all neighborhood concerns. The plan was published in May of 2017 and can be viewed here.
From there, the Eastside Grassroots Coalition continued its research, completing two distinct neighborhood surveys in August of 2017. Using this data and the continued feedback at the monthly community meetings, they applied for and received their first neighborhood improvement grant to address blight in the community by awarding homeowners micro grants to complete home facade improvements. This success led to the development of more goals and bigger ideas to improve the neighborhood. Thus, in January of 2018, the Eastside Grassroots Coalition decided to create a Strategic Plan to guide the neighborhood revitalization activities for the next five years. The now completed plan and the process by which it was developed can be read here.
The development of the Strategic Plan led to definitive goals of the Eastside Grassroots Coalition which can be viewed here. It was developed by consultant Amy Cuzzola-Kern, who remains as a consultant to help guide the plan. It also led to the dissolvement of the Core Team, and the creation of a new Advisory Board, and members of both can be viewed below. In May of 2018, the Burton-Diehl Neighborhood Organization started to be incorporated into the Eastside Grassroots Coalition. They function as a neighborhood watch and focus community efforts on improving McClelland Park, the largest park within city limits, located within the EGC's boundaries. Today the Eastside Grassroots Coalition is using the Strategic Plan to guide its activities in applying for grants, completing projects, increasing community engagement, and strengthening partnerships with businesses, local nonprofits, and local government.
For over a year and a half the Core Team worked diligently, meeting at least once per month to determine and agenda for the monthly community meetings, which included speakers from local government, service providers, businesses, schools, and activists while always leaving ample time for discussion and feedback. The Core Team was comprised of residents, neighborhood nonprofits, and businesses. The Eastside Grassroots Coalition would not be where it was today with out their hard work and dedication and we thank them for their service to our cause.
They Advisory Board of the Eastside Grassroots Coalition was formed in May 2018 in conjunction with the development of our Strategic Plan. The Advisory Board role is to oversee the implementation of the Strategic Plan and ensure the goals of the organization are met while continually taking resident feedback into account of which goals to pursue when. They also focus on increasing investments in the Eastside Grassroots Coalition and the neighborhood it serves. The current members of the Advisory Board are as follows:
Sr. Michele Schroeck, RSM
Director, House of Mercy
Sr. Joanne Courneen
Sister of Mercy
Bill Hilbert Jr.
Owner & President, Reddog Industries
President & CEO, McInnes Rolled Rings
Executive Director, JFK Center, Inc.
Administrative Coordinator, EGC
Executive Directory, UECDC
President, Curtze Food Service
President, Custom Engineering Co.
Chief Marketing Officer, Erie FCU
Executive Director & Secretary, HACE
Planning Director, City of Erie
Jenny Weigold Geertson
UPMC Health Plan