Allegheny College Awarded $155,000 Grant from Richard King Mellon Foundation To Support Community Planning and Capacity-building Effort

Allegheny College, in collaboration with the City of Meadville, has received a $155,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s Economic Development Program. The grant will support planning and capacity-building efforts to bolster downtown revitalization and development.

The grant funds will be used to hire a consulting firm to lead community stakeholders in a planning effort to develop a five-year strategic plan and in the establishment of a new community development corporation to execute on the strategy. The funds will also advance efforts consistent with the city’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan, which calls for renewed investment in the Central Business District, and the 2021 Strategic Management and Planning Program Report, which calls for the investment in a new community development corporation, dedicated to downtown revitalization and development, to lead those efforts. Early planning efforts and the gathering of stakeholders will be organized by Andy Walker, the college’s executive director of economic, civic and community engagement, in collaboration with city leadership and staff.

“The Richard King Mellon Foundation is a longtime supporter of Allegheny College and conservation efforts in the French Creek Watershed, and we are grateful for the foundation’s continued investment to bolster efforts that will build capacity for downtown Meadville to serve as a strong economic anchor,” Allegheny College President Hilary L. Link said. “Allegheny shares, along with our region’s citizens, our elected leadership and our business and nonprofit communities, the same vision for a vital downtown that meets the needs of residents, draws talent to our community and serves as a destination for our students, families and visitors.”

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” said Mayor Jaime Kinder. “The foundation’s investment lends credence to what we already know — big things are happening here — citizens are stepping up to shape the future of our city, and businesses are investing. I’m appreciative of the foundation’s faith in our people and our community.”

Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, said, “We are pleased to invest again in Allegheny College and, by extension, the Meadville community. This grant is part of a Foundation economic-development initiative to catalyze community revitalization in rural areas in our region. Higher-education institutions such as Allegheny College are powerful economic engines in rural areas, serving as anchors for talent and innovation. In conjunction with our past investments in conservation in the French Creek Valley, this grant highlights our belief in the importance and potential of Meadville and the surrounding areas.”

According to Walker, who will lead initial planning efforts, the ultimate formation of a new community development corporation will address Meadville’s long-standing need for an organization dedicated to downtown development. “Many communities of our size have dedicated and staffed Main Street organizations or community development corporations working on business development, building rehabilitations, or adaptive reuse or historic preservation projects,” Walker said. “And oftentimes, outside resources in the forms of grants, tax credits or low-interest loans are needed to intervene in the marketplace to make these projects attractive to investors. The resources provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation over the next year will help us build the capacity to reach this goal.”

To launch the effort and begin further dialog with the community, Walker and Mayor Kinder will jointly host an open-house-style event on Tuesday, April 19 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Meadville Public Library for the public to share their vision for downtown and to discuss next steps in the planning process.

About the Richard King Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The foundation’s 2020 year-end endowment was $3.1 billion, and its trustees in 2020 disbursed $130 million in grants and program-related investments. The foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.

About Allegheny College
Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. It is one of the few colleges in the United States with a unique requirement to choose both a major and minor for graduation, to provide students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth and intellectual growth. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2022 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny College in its Top 20 Schools for Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects and the Top 25 Most Innovative National Liberal Arts Colleges.

About the City of Meadville, PA
Founded in 1788 on the banks of French Creek, the City of Meadville is home to 13,050 residents. In addition to serving as seat of Crawford County government, Meadville is home to Allegheny College, Meadville Medical Center, numerous industrial businesses and an increasingly vibrant downtown. Often referred to as the “Tool and Die Capital of the World,” Meadville is known for its inventive and industrial heritage, and it remains home to many tooling and machining businesses that support industries both nationally and worldwide.