Gregory J. Allen, Ph.D. is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who has committed himself to helping people create change for themselves and their communities. For more than 30 years he has worked primarily in urban communities with low-income families and young people, providing guidance for them to access resources that will help them to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Greg has been affectionately referred to as "The Mayor of Overbrook" or "The Guardian of The Playground", two titles he cherishes that describe the ways in which he cares of his community and Tustin Playground, a historic recreation center known as the place where Kobe Bryant, Wilt. Chamberlain and other famous basketball have played and that Will Smith sang about in his award-winning TV sitcom "The Fresh Prince of BelAir."
In 2017, Dr. Allen began planning for Overbrook West Neighbors (OWN), a community development corporation whose mission to "...enhance commerce on the Upper Lancaster Avenue Business Corridor, work with residents and stakeholders to improve the quality of life in our community, and serve as the Registered Community Organization (RCO)." In this very short time, OWN has had a real and significant impact.
In 2014, following his efforts to guide its startup development, Greg joined the team at Vetri Community Partnership as the as Director of Development focused on increasing the amount of funding received from foundation and government sources. During his tenure, VCP increased its foundation funding 8-fold and was included as a PA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) provider, the first nonprofit to be included in this nutrition education group in more than 20 years.
In 2009, Dr. Allen resigned his position as a member of the Board of Directors to work for PFPCS as the Director of Education and later as the Director of Development. In his first year in this capacity, leading a team of colleagues focused on cost saving measures, PFPCS eliminated a $150K deficit and recognized a $300K surplus. In his second year, PFPCS was awarded a $4 million School Improvement (SIG) Grant, a competitive grant made to districts and charter schools that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to provide adequate resources to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools. At PFPCS, Dr. Allen is most proud of the healthy lifestyle agenda he promoted to include the Vetri Community Partnership's Eatiquette Program, a family style, healthy food lunch program; a USDA Farm to School Program Planning Grant, a program to encourage schools to procure local foods in their meal programs; the PA Department of Education Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, a program to provide low-income students with a daily fresh snack of fruit or vegetable; and finally, with the generous support from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation's (IBC) Building Healthy Communities grant program, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Vetri Foundation for Children, to provide the North Street Community Garden and a culinary classroom using the herbs and vegetables that were grown by the students in the local community garden.
From 1999 to 2009, Dr. Allen was a Founding Board Member of the People for People Charter School (PFPCS). In this capacity, he monitored the fiscal and managerial operations for this independent public charter school that provides low-income students with entrepreneurship and experiential learning.
During this same period of time, Greg worked in Camden, NJ for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Camden Area Office and with the Camden Center for Youth Development (formerly Juvenile Resource Center), the only juvenile justice high school that served as a diversion program in Camden County, New Jersey.
Dr. Allen's professional experiences have been concentrated within educational, public and nonprofit environments. In 1993, he received his Master of Education from Temple University College of Education in Psychoeducational Processes with a concentration in Training and Organizational Development. In 1999, he earned his Doctorate of Philosophy from Temple University in the same program. His dissertation was titled Tell Them We Are Rising (TTWAR): A Study of a Tuition Guarantee Program. TTWAR was a student mentoring program established by Dr. Ruth Wright-Hayre, the 1st African-American Superintendent and African American female President of the Board of Education for the School District of Philadelphia. It was cited by US Congressman Chaka Fattah as a model for the U.S. Department of Education GEAR-UP program, a $2 billion college access plan for low-income minorities.
Organizations that Dr. Allen has worked with include the Vetri Community Partnership, Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, Camden Center for Youth Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the City of Philadelphia. He has provided consulting to numerous groups including Plus Ultre, LLC, Temple University, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Rutgers University, William Penn Foundation, Camden City and Cumberland County Empowerment Zones, Haverford College, and the Ford Foundation.