CSC’s Donley Awards recognize individuals, organizations that advocate for children in Lehigh Valley

J.B. Reilly, Donald J. Bernhard and Communities in Schools will be honored at CSC’s annual Children’s Ball on Oct. 4

ALLENTOWN – Community Services for Children is pleased to announce the 2019 winners of the Inez and Edward Donley Award for Children’s Advocacy, presented annually to individuals and organizations who have significantly improved the quality of life for children in the Lehigh Valley.

This year’s honorees are J.B. Reilly, President and CEO of City Center Investment Corporation, Donald J. Bernhard, Executive Director of the Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative, and Communities in Schools (CIS). The 24th Annual Donley Awards will be presented Oct. 4 at CSC’s Children’s Ball, at the Centennial Catering & Conference Center in Upper Saucon Township. Tickets are $150 for an individual or $275 for a couple and are available at www.cscinc.org/events.

The award, which recognizes those who advocate on behalf of children locally, regionally and nationally, is named for the Donleys, who were the first recipients. They dedicated their lives to improving the health, education and general welfare of children, and it was through their support that CSC’s Donley Children’s Campus became a reality.

Reilly formed City Center Investment Corp. with Joseph V. Topper Jr. in 2011, and the company is helping transform downtown Allentown through development of a $1 billion-plus mixed-use project. He is leading a vision for the development of Allentown that is inclusive and beneficial to the most disadvantaged children.

Under Reilly’s leadership, City Center Investment Corp. donated more than $4.3 million to 123 organizations in 2018 through its Building Community program. The initiative aims to revitalize downtown Allentown and its surrounding neighborhoods into a sustainable vibrant urban community by providing financial support, in-kind donations and volunteer service. In 2018, City Center’s 25 employees volunteered more than 2,000 hours at approximately 45 organizations.

Over the past year, major Building Community Initiatives have included:

  • City Center partnered with Community Services for Children to launch the Learning Hub at City Center Allentown to provide school-day, after-school and summer programing for local children and parents in need. City Center provided leadership and nearly $1.3 million in design and construction costs to renovate the space, which is occupied rent-free by 110 preschoolers and their teachers.
  • City Center pledged $1 million to match new and increased gifts to United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s 2018 campaign.
  • City Center became the corporate partner of its neighborhood school, Central Elementary, a United Way Community School.

Reilly and his wife Kathleen have also given extensive financial support to Lehigh Valley Health Network. Most recently, they helped Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital upgrade its new neonatal intensive care unit and add a pediatric inpatient area with 30 private rooms.

Reilly has more than 30 years of experience in commercial and residential real estate development and planning, urban redevelopment, property management, finance management and law. His career includes the successful development of diverse real estate assets, including apartment complexes, lifestyle communities, office towers, a full-service hotel and historic renovations.

He serves on the board of directors of CrossAmerica Partners (NYSE: CAPL), a leading U.S. distributor of branded petroleum for motor vehicles, and M-SPEX, LLC, an engineering and manufacturing firm specializing in military solutions. He was on the board of trustees of Lehigh Valley Health Network from 2002 to 2011 and served as chairman from 2009 to 2011. He has been a member of the board of trustees of Lafayette College since 2008 and was a trustee of DeSales University from 2002 to 2011.

Reilly earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Lafayette College and professional law degree from Fordham University’s School of Law. He is a certified public accountant and has been a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association since 1987.

Bernhard is an example of advocacy and leadership in action. Through his position with Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative, as well as his volunteer service, he is focused on ensuring low-income families benefit from the city’s new prosperity. He is leveraging resources and bringing together like-minded people to make a lasting difference.

Before leading Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative, Bernhard was director of community affairs for PPL. From 1996 to 2014 he managed corporate citizenship, economic development and local government relations. Prior to that, he was the City of Allentown’s community development director. During his tenure with the city, he was instrumental in securing funding to transform Alliance Hall, an abandoned building at Sixth and Chew streets, into a multi-use building that includes affordable housing, the Allentown Health Bureau and a Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers (LVCC) location that serves 200 children.

Bernhard is a board member and past chairman of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation and chairman and 38-year board member of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. He served 23 years on Community Services for Children’s Board of Directors and was instrumental in creating the Learning Hub at City Center. He became a Century Fund Trustee in 2017, reviewing proposals that come before the charitable trust and determining which Allentown programs to fund, including CSC and other early education initiatives. He also serves on the boards of Pennsylvania Economy League, Building 21, Upside Allentown and the Allentown Promise Neighborhood.

Bernhard worked directly with both Ed and Inez Donley and is passionate about carrying out their mission to improve the lives of children in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. He and Ed Donley served together for many years on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Early Learning Investment Commission. Bernhard is now an executive committee member of this group, which advocates for additional funding for early education. He also served many years with Inez Donley on the Allentown Public Library Board, succeeding her as chair, a position he held for 12 years.

Bernhard has been an active member of the International Economic Development Council, where he obtained the status of Certified Economic Developer. He has a master’s degree in political science from Brown University and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Communities in Schools (CIS) of the Lehigh Valley works to improve academic outcomes, attendance, behavior, social-emotional learning and family engagement. CIS has helped at-risk students for more than 36 years, and is the largest dropout prevention program of its kind, bringing much-needed supports into the public schools. The organization’s mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS accomplishes this by connecting students to caring adults and community resources designed to help them succeed.

CIS provides programming before, during and after school to more than 20,000 students kindergarten through 12th grade in 30 schools, spanning six districts in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County – Allentown, Bethlehem Area, Easton Area, East Penn, Whitehall-Coplay and Reading. In addition to delivering school-wide and one-on-one supports through an evidence-based model, CIS also partners with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to serve as lead partner at 10 Community Schools in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. CIS provides after-school math and reading support for middle and high school students at four 21st-Century Community Learner Centers, and empowers former out-of-school youth at the Allentown ReEngagement Center, which has successfully led more than 150 former high school dropouts toward a GED or high school diploma since its inception in 2015.

CIS, in partnership with local communities, does whatever it takes to ensure that all children — regardless of the challenges they may face — have what they need to realize their potential. It’s not always easy. Thousands of kids across the country face overwhelming roadblocks to their academic and personal success. Learning disabilities. Homelessness. Bullying. The emotional effects of trauma. Untreated medical or dental conditions. A lack of school supplies and clothes. CIS site coordinators are in the schools to meet both the academic and non-academic needs of students and families. CIS starts by collaborating with schools to understand each student’s needs and deliver resources tailored to the individual. Then they go beyond the classroom to work with local businesses, social service agencies, healthcare providers and volunteers, to give every student the confidence to overcome life’s future roadblocks and own their success.

All three 2019 Donley Award recipients embody the Donleys’ commitment to improving the lives of children as well as CSC’s mission of preparing young children and their families to succeed in learning and in life through innovative, comprehensive, leading-edge services. We look forward to presenting these well-deserved awards.

Community Services for Children is a regional leader in early childhood education and family services, affecting the lives of 20,000 children and 2,100 families annually. CSC’s Head Start/Early Head Start of the Lehigh Valley program is recognized as a national center of excellence and innovation.