Neighborhood News

Keep up with all things Germantown! We post resources and opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs, news about community-driven planning efforts and the equitable development of Germantown, and relevant programs and events for residents.

 

Announcing Dates for 2019 FREE First-time Homebuyer Workshops

Thinking about buying your own home in Germantown? Germantown United CDC now offers FREE monthly first-time homebuyer workshops right here in Germantown through a partnership with Mt. Airy CDC. The full schedule for 2019 follows below.

first-time homebuyer workshop

Learn everything you need to know to become a successful first-time homebuyer! In this three-hour workshop, our experienced and HUD-certified housing counseling staff will cover:

  • How to improve your credit scores and prepare a spending plan
  • The mortgage lending process
  • What’s in a sales agreement
  • Inspections, insurance, and why you need them
  • Available assistance for down payment and closing costs

Schedule

Workshops are Tuesdays at 5:30pm at GUCDC’s office, located at 5320 Germantown Ave (at the corner of W Penn St). All workshops are approximately 3 hours, please plan accordingly.

TUESDAYS
January 22
February 26
March 26
April 30
May 28
June 25
July 23
August 27
September 24
October 22
November 19
December 10

Register online at bit.ly/germantown2019
Or, contact us at 215-856-4303 Ext. 103 or info@germantownunitedcdc.org

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Germantown United CDC announces new team members

Germantown United CDC is excited to introduce new team members Renae Bruce-Miller and Rhakeim Miller to the Germantown community.

Renae Bruce-Miller is a seasoned global business development specialist with a passion for seeing entrepreneurs at all stages thrive. Rhakeim Miller is an experienced grassroots organizer and coalition-builder, with over 10 years of public service as a staffer in city and state government. Both Renae and Rhakeim (no relation) are neighborhood residents, raising young families in the community, and thrilled to have the opportunity to apply their professional expertise in business and housing in Germantown. 

The two join longtime staff members Andrew Trackman, Executive Director, Emaleigh Doley, Corridor Manager, and Administrator Josanne Ford, who began working with GU in the summer of 2018. GU is governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of Germantown residents and representatives of local business, educational and service institutions. Learn more about the staff and board.

About the new team members

Rhakeim Miller, Neighborhood Advisory Committee Manager

Rhakeim will serve as Germantown United CDC’s first Neighborhood Advisory Committee Manager. The organization is now participating in the Neighborhood Advisory Committees Program, commonly referred to as NAC, an extension of the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)The NAC Program serves Philadelphia’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. NACs provide resources and referrals that address numerous problems that lead to homelessness, and engage residents with activities that support the City’s core objectives, including:

  • Promoting neighborhood sustainability through programs addressing homelessness prevention, energy conservation education, housing preservation, neighborhood safety, and health and wellness
  • Utilizing referral services for available housing counseling, workforce development and economic opportunities
  • Cultivating youth mentoring and civic engagement
  • Ensuring resident participation in City planning and development initiatives

The Germantown neighborhood has not had an active NAC for several years, and we are excited to be reviving this much-needed resource under Rhakeim’s leadership.

Throughout his career, Rhakeim has worked with civic leaders, policymakers, and business owners to institute community investment programs and practices his commitment to housing preservation and economic development by advocating for impactful neighborhood improvements that benefit established and new residents. As a small business owner raising his family in Germantown, Rhakeim has a personal commitment to the continued positive change in the community. He is also an avid runner (you can often catch him running down Germantown Ave) and has a love for art museums.

Renae Bruce-Miller, Corridor Manager

As Corridor Manager, Renae will be facilitating the delivery of local access to supportive business programs and enhancing Germantown United CDC’s commercial corridor and economic development activities. Since 2015, Germantown United CDC has been participating in the Targeted Corridor Management Program (TCMP), managed by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce recognizes the need in Germantown, and has increased GUCDC’s contract, enabling the organization to grow its corridor management team.

Renae was born into a family of small business owners in Jamaica and was educated at Wolmer’s Girls High School. She went on to study Hospitality Management and Business Administration at Monroe College in NYC and has since earned several additional certificates to satisfy the growing demands of business needs. Prior to joining GUCDC in January 2019, Renae worked with corporations small and large as a consultant, helping businesses achieve their goals in New Market Development, Digital Marketing, Sales Conversion, Brand Development, Business Strategies, Web Development, Financial Guidance and a host of other well-developed skills that she will use to assist the Germantown business community. Renae has chosen Germantown as her home, where she is raising her young family, and sees the neighborhood as a developing community for both businesses to grow and families to thrive. 

Organizational growth

Germantown United CDC grew out of a grassroots movement to protect Germantown from a shortsighted development. The organization was founded in 2012, hired it’s first executive director in 2014, and is now operating with four full-time and one part-time employees as of January 2019.

In 2018, GU adopted a new five-year strategic plan, which sharpened the organization’s mission, assessed program activities, and looked for opportunities to enhance its community building and economic development work through the year 2023. The organization’s mission statement now reads:

The mission of the Germantown United CDC is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

GU has already achieved several of the recommendations set forth in the plan, including increasing its work around housing, from foreclosure prevention to pre-purchase and home-ownership counseling. (For a CliffsNotes version of what’s changed, click here.)

As we enter into the New Year, the board and staff of GU would like to acknowledge and thank our many community partners, stakeholders, and constituents who have shaped the organization, and support our mission and vision for a strong and united Germantown.

Germantown Winter Window Display Contest

Make Germantown’s commercial district shine this winter!

Businesses with street-facing storefronts are invited to enter the first seasonal window display contest sponsored by Germantown United CDC.

To be eligible, fill out this form by December 19, 2018.

Why should you participate? Neighborhood shopping districts are places of shared memory where the entire Germantown community still comes together to live, work and play. A vibrant, decorated business corridor can attract customers by making the area more enjoyable and inviting. Window displays and other decorations provide an economically efficient way to attract customers, as decorations are generally inexpensive. Register today!

Contest Guidelines

  • Decorate your windows with a holiday, winter, or other seasonal theme.
  • Make sure your window display is visible from the street.
  • Use lights to attract shoppers and visitors.

The 2018 contest is happening now and runs through New Year’s Eve.

Window displays should be ready for judging by December 19, 2018.

Winners will be announced in early January 2019.

All registered businesses/attractions will receive complimentary “I Love Germantown” buttons to distribute to their customers/visitors. “The People’s Choice” winner, determined by citizen votes, will have the option to design a custom button that promotes your business or attraction. This contest will now be held annually. After winning an award, a business will not be eligible to win again the next year (but will be eligible the following year). This will allow multiple businesses the opportunity to win an award.

Questions? Contact Emaleigh Doley at Germantown United CDC at edoley@germantownunitedcdc.org or 215-856-4303.

Registration Form

goo.gl/forms/O24war3I094iUH2a2

Germantown United CDC to double staff in expansion

Update: These positions have been filled, as of January 18, 2019!

Germantown United CDC plans to double its staff capacity, increasing the organization’s work in commercial corridor revitalization and community building in the Germantown neighborhood. The nonprofit secured two competitive grants that will enable the organization to add two additional full-time jobs in the fall of 2018.

View the job descriptions for Corridor Manager and Neighborhood Advisory Committee Manager at germantownunitedcdc.org/about/careers

Read more »»»

New pop-up cleanup campaign hits the streets

Friends of Germantown Northwest and Germantown United CDC are partnering on a new project called “Clean It Up Make It Safe” Germantown Pop-up Cleanup, a public health and safety campaign aimed at litter abatement within Lower Germantown. The grassroots project utilizes pop-up cleanups – volunteer efforts that appear suddenly or unexpectedly – along the commercial district to improve the beauty, cleanliness, and safety of the targeted area, build community, and inspire people to action.

These cleanups are managed by Friends of Germantown Northwest’s Keith Schenck, and supported by GUCDC through the organization’s Lower Germantown Quality of Life Initiative which began in 2017.

HOW IT WORKS

“Clean It Up Make It Safe” events are highly visible flash cleanups within the commercial district and provide sidewalk sweeping, weeding, and litter and cigarette removal. Each cleanup is executed by a large group of volunteers and designed to:

  • Have an an immediate and positive physical impact in the community;
  • Generate excitement and community spirit;
  • Demonstrate leadership by example;
  • Encourage participation in community building; and
  • Challenge residents, merchants, and other stakeholders in greater Germantown to become involved in service and community-driven neighborhood improvement efforts.

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CliffsNotes: An Overview of GU’s Five-Year Plan

Germantown United CDC released the organization’s five-year strategic plan in September 2018. This new plan will help prioritize and advance our work in Germantown now through the year 2023.

We encourage all our partners, neighborhood advocates, and community stakeholders to give the full plan a looksee. We also know 36 pages is a lot to take in 🙂 So if you’re looking for a quick overview of what’s changed, read on!

Biggest Update: Expanding Our Mission

GUCDC has expanded its focus on commercial corridor revitalization and role representing businesses to representing the entire Germantown community. We are increasing our investment in community building, outreach and engagement. The issues prompting this shift are documented in the full plan. The organization’s mission statement now reads:

The mission of the Germantown United CDC is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

The bustling intersection of Germantown Ave. & Chelten Ave. (photo: Monique Brand)

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Germantown United CDC Announces Organizational Strategic Plan

Germantown United CDC released the organization’s five-year strategic plan in September 2018. This new plan will serve as a roadmap and tool for assessing progress, and will help prioritize and advance the organization’s work in Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood now through the year 2023.

The year-long planning process helped Germantown United CDC’s leadership to step back and examine where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there.

We have sharpened the organization’s mission, assessed program activities, and looked for opportunities to enhance our community and economic development work.

The planning process was led by V. Lamar Wilson Associates, a private consulting firm specializing in community development contracted to examine GUCDC’s program operations, and solicit different points of view and critiques of the organization—internal and external. This comprehensive process was made possible by the generous support of The Philadelphia Foundation.

View/download the full plan here.

For a quick overview of what’s changed, click here.

Free First-time Homebuyer Workshops in Germantown

Beginning in September 2018, Germantown United CDC will increase its work around affordable housing and homeownership. We are committed to bringing new housing counseling services to the neighborhood, and connecting residents with existing resources in Germantown and nearby, including pre-purchase and home-ownership counseling, foreclosure prevention, anti-predatory lending education, financial counseling, and a renter assistance referral system. But wait, there’s more! »»»

New Farmers Market Opens in Germantown

Starting Thursday, June 14, 2018 The Food Trust’s newest farmers market opens in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, as a place for community members to gather, purchase healthy foods, listen to music, enjoy arts and cultural programming, and take advantage of free community resources. The market, hosted in collaboration with Germantown United Community Development Corp. and Weavers Way Co-op, will be open to the public through October every Thursday, 3-7 p.m., at Germantown Avenue and East School House Lane.

Shoppers can enjoy:

  • Fresh fruits & veggies from Zookie’s Produce
  • Cooking demos by The Food Trust nutrition educators
  • Nuts, dried fruit, coffee, granola and other sustainably sourced bulk and packaged foods from Weavers Way Co-op
  • Community resources, music, arts & entertainment sponsored by Germantown United CDC
  • Food truck fare and prepared foods, including Ashbell’s Smokehouse Deli

But wait, there’s more! »»»

Response to Lower Germantown Blight and Housing Threat Before the PRA

The mission of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

In February of 2018, Germantown United CDC became aware that the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) was considering a proposal to refinance $3.3 million in loans­––with forgiveness of all back taxes, all utility liens, and all late penalties and interest accumulated over a 25-year period––on 50+ properties concentrated in lower Germantown (an estimated 140+ units of housing).

News of the proposal before the PRA was met with overwhelming outrage. Thanks to substantial pressure, community organizing and advocacy, the PRA rejected the proposal and is moving forward with foreclosure, calling it “the responsible course of action that is best for the Germantown neighborhood and for the ongoing preservation and maintenance of this important affordable housing.” If successful, the PRA will take control of these properties. At this time however, exactly what will happen to these properties remains influx and unknown. But wait, there’s more! »»»