Welcoming the Stranger wins Renewal Award, grant from Allstate

A Bucks County nonprofit agency is one of five groups honored in a national grant competition.

Welcoming the Stanger, based in Langhorne, is a 2019 honoree in the Renewal Awards, a joint effort by Allstate and The Atlantic. According to a press release, more than 9,300 nonprofit groups entered the contest, which honors and provide grants to organizations making positive changes in their communities.

“Across the country, this year’s Renewal Award winners are improving their communities by empowering women, supporting new immigrants, and providing innovative educational paths for young people,” explained Elizabeth Brady, Chief Marketing Officer at Allstate. “Allstate is proud to invest in these changemakers who are making a difference in the lives of others every day.”

Welcoming the Stranger, founded in 1999, has taught more than 4,000 students from 104 different countries, according to the release. The agency aims to empower immigrants by giving them language skills that allow them to be successful and productive. Specific programs include free English-language classes as well as computer-skills instruction and preparation for citizenship exams.

“Our unique model of customizing individualized lessons has proven to meet the specific needs of each person in our program, while allowing a global community to form right here at home, where people advocate for one another, support one another and learn from one another’s wide range of experience and knowledge to make our neighborhoods stronger,” the agency stated on its voting profile.

Welcoming the Stranger is the Northeast Region 2019 honoree, and organization leaders were invited to attend Wednesday's national Renewal Summit in New York. Allstate and The Atlantic plan to surprise winners by doubling the grant amount from $20,000 to $40,000 at today's ceremony

“From New York to California, and Oregon to Kentucky, this year’s Renewal Award finalists testify to the creativity, tenacity and determination of the grassroots innovators rejuvenating communities around the country,” said Ronald Brownstein, senior editor of The Atlantic. “We are proud to help shine a spotlight on the work of our extraordinary finalists and to give the public a chance to learn more about them. Their collective message is that even with all of the conflict and stalemate of national politics, America’s capacity to renew itself from the bottom up remains as vibrant as ever.”

Judges winnowed the list of nearly 10,000 contestants to 15 finalists, which included three Youth Empowerment Award finalists. Public voting ran from Feb. 11 to March 1.

“Allstate makes the Renewal Awards possible because we know good ideas start at the local level, and there are many creative ways to drive positive change in communities,” Stacy Sharpe, Allstate’s senior vice president of corporate relations, said in the press release. “We also know from the vast number of applicants that the need is great — but so too is the creativity and diversity among change-makers across the country. We are proud to support the organizations and individuals working hard to make their neighborhoods stronger.”

In addition to public voting, a panel of judges evaluates nominees. The panel includes nonprofit executives, business and government officials as well as past winners. This year’s panel included 2018 winners Bob Curry, of the Hazleton Integration Project in Hazleton, Pennsylvania; and Melissa Sawyer with the Youth Empowerment Project in New Orleans. 

Allstate and The Atlantic started the Renewal Awards in 2015, and since then have given more than $300,000 in grants from Allstate to 16 organizations.

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