Our Vision as the Innovation Corridor in Northeast Reading – Albright College

Our Vision as the Innovation Corridor in Northeast Reading

Dear Albright Community,

As summer winds down and we gear up for the fall, I would like to share the progress that has been made toward one of the key themes of our 2030 strategic vision: Albright’s role as an anchor institution in northeast Reading.

Albright College has long educated students from middle- and working-class families. Almost half of our students are the first in their family to attend college. Albright consistently ranks in the top 40 of all liberal arts colleges nationally for socio-economic mobility.

Beyond this, Albright College is also a significant contributor to the vitality of Reading, Berks County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A 2018 study conducted by Parker Phillips estimated the annual economic impact of Albright College on the local and state economy to be $102.4M, supporting 1,094 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced). This economic impact, combined with the college’s rich cultural offerings – The Freedman Gallery, Lakin Holocaust and Resource Center, the Black Cultural Collection, and the Nolan local history collection – establishes Albright as a long-serving anchor institution in northeast Reading’s College Heights historical district. 

Imagine our northeast Reading neighborhood as Reading’s Innovation Corridor, a destination and a community where residents live, work, learn and play. Albright’s position as northeast Reading’s anchor institution gives us a unique capability to catalyze this vision.

  • Educational attainment and innovation development: Albright’s Science Research Institute continues to grow since becoming part of Albright in 2020. Its sold-out summer camp attracts learners from across the Reading School District, Berks County, and beyond. It has provided internship opportunities for our own students and training courses for local teachers and administrators, and it serves as a pipeline to our programs for traditional undergraduate, adult undergraduate and graduate students. Albright Science Research Institute is thriving in its interim home at 11th & Rockland Streets and has been successful in achieving multiple grants and appropriations to support the program.
  • Renovation of the Camp Building to an Innovation and Design Center: Plans are in development to renovate the historic Leo Camp building into a state-of-the-art facility optimized for experiential learning, elite training, technological exploration and community engagement. This new academic building will provide a permanent home for Albright Science Research Institute, along with enhanced spaces to augment Albright’s innovative programs in fashion design and merchandising, music industry studies, and several others under development.
  • Economic development: The economy of a neighborhood thrives when people see that area as a destination. Albright is involved with several economic development prospects, which will bolster the neighborhood’s standing as Reading’s Innovation Corridor. Notably, Albright’s partnership with Nerd Street Gamers to construct a public esports facility on 13th Street is a substantial step forward in this evolution. Site design work and engineering have been completed and financing details are being finalized. Other yet unannounced opportunities are under various stages of consideration.
  • Cultural and community development: In parallel to economic expansion, developing a neighborhood where people want to live, work, learn and play requires creating a cultural and community hub that attracts scholars, artists, researchers, and community members. Our new Student Success Commons and Library will help fill this need. Recently, we successfully competed for a $1 million grant from Berks County toward construction. This is a significant milestone, bringing the total that our Advancement team has secured for this construction to $11.47 million, allowing us to move forward to the next phase of construction. This newly created facility will complement the existing celebrated artistic and cultural offerings for which Albright is known.
  • Residence hall construction: The value of new and upgraded buildings cannot be over-estimated. Construction of the Rockland Hall residence in 2017 had immediate impact on the adjacent shopping center, which upgraded its façade and facilities and is now fully leased. Construction of our new residence hall at 12th and Exeter is ongoing, with a planned opening in June 2023. This residence hall will provide students with en-suite baths and additional highly desirable single rooms, further adding to the strength and vibrancy of Albright’s west-side neighborhood.

As we continue to work towards our vision for 2030, these projects lay foundations for the Innovation Corridor of Reading — a community where residents live, work, learn and play, and where students develop their creative skills, are innovative in their thinking, and incubate their own companies.

In other news, did you know that the city of Reading will celebrate its 275th anniversary in 2023? Albright College will be part of the year-long celebration. A campus committee has been formed to determine our participation and it’s not too late for you to get involved! If you’re interested in being a part of this group, please reach out to Lisa Glenn, lglenn@albright.edu.

During the next few weeks of the summer, please continue to rest, rejuvenate, and enjoy what makes you smile. I look forward to the beginning of our new academic year together!

Warm regards,

Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry