top of page


The Community Development pillar
of Barrio focuses on providing
equitable opportunities for
community members to increase
their financial situation, gain
leadership skills, and improve
employment opportunities.

Projects Year round

What is community?

Just ask the Mayor of S. 7th Street

Defining "community" is a challenge because Barrio  challenges the geographical definition.


We may not be able to give an exact definition, but  its evidence is perceived in the emotional connection of people, in the emotional connection of memories and shared  emotional and cultural beliefs.

"We may not live next to each other, but if I know that what affects me affects you, then you are part of my community." says Jeannette Buchanon when giving a person the title of neighbor, kin, or family.

Some call her the Mayor of South Seventh Street. Others say she’s the Matriarch of the South of Penn neighborhood. Jeanette Buchanon is a titan in her community and has been integral in transforming her corner of the city. Her home was adjacent to an empty lot that for years collected litter and for years she had been waging war against debris, trash and abandoned vehicles left on the lot.

Together with Barrio, Jeanette transformed the space into a place for frequent live musical performances, movie nights, and celebrations. The space—now dubbed Lucky’s Lane—has given new life to her block. Government officials and private foundations have taken note of Jeanette’s work and began investing in her projects.

The City of Reading  paved the gravel lot and installed planters in a ceremony that culminated with a community concert.

Jeanette has been a tireless advocate for her community and an example for her neighbors, showing that a better city is possible with the right partners, passion, and vision

What if I AM afraid of checking my
credit score?

We get it. We also grew up feeling anxious around talks about credit scores and money. We would like you to give it a try in a supportive environment with people who care and understand.

Wait, isn't Barrio an arts organization?

Barrio is a community engagement organization. One of our pillars deals with community development programs although we infuse art into everything we do.

Puedo ir si


hablo español?

Claro que si. En nuestros programas siempre hay alguien que podra interpretar. No se preocupe, estamos aqui para ayudarles y buscar su desarrollo.

What is the secret sauce?

(There isn't one) 

Our Community Development pillar project weaves together 3 programmatic areas:

a) microlending circles, b) financial education & business support services, and c) time banking.

There really is no secret sauce. We push back against plans made by experts who ask community members to help achieve goals. Our programs are made by community members who ask experts to help achieve our own goals.

The GRASS program, designated by DCED as part of its Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program, was developed to address the pre-existing conditions that
underpin economic exclusion.

In order to maximize the impact of this project, Barrio  leverages its deep community relationships and networks. For example, Barrio Alegria is a key participant in the South of Penn Taskforce, an ongoing, multi-year, multi-stakeholder effort spearheaded by the Wyomissing Foundation. 


Barrio Alegria serves as a community navigator, coordinating the resident engagement and quality of life improvements that complement the traditional economic development initiatives undertaken by members of the task force (members include: Wyomissing Foundation, Reading Area Community College, Redevelopment Authority of Berks County, Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation, Salvation Army, Reading Recreation Commission, Reading Public Works Department, and Barrio Alegria).   



Barrio's Microlending Program has developed a partnership with Riverfront Federal Credit Union to service micro-loans and offer competitive interest rates to borrowers.
Barrio Alegria serves as the trusted intermediary, creating an onramp to traditional financial services helping overcome the traditional barriers to lending.

What types of loans do you provide?

Currently we offer micro business loans and personal /credit repair loans.

Amounts vary, so, please get in touch with us today to learn more!


Photography and videography is encouraged.
Please use #barrioalegria

so we can find the pictures!


If you would like to lead a workshop, please send us a note and we will get back to you to schedule a workshop!


  Adulting Sucks  

Financial literacy training lacks cultural competency and assumes that participants will have the means to use the information provided to get themselves out of poverty or grow their wealth.
The majority of our constituents in Reading do not have the means, and often have mental and emotional barriers to achieve good credit, access capital, buy a house, etc.

Financial literacy courses then become reminders of their unsuccessful and frustrating journey with money”.  The Adulting Sucks program addresses this through creativity and meaningful engagement.

Making your



Barrio doesn't do regular performances. We do things differently:


Photography and videography is encouraged.
Please use


After the performance, our cast will engage with the audience in a question and answer session


  Barrio's Timebank  

Barrio's Time Bank is a way to democratize exchanges, allow people to offer their gifts, and rethink their relationship to the local economy. Time banking is a labor-time based bartering system, where people exchange services for hourly time credits, rather than money. This basic process has been shown to unlock hidden potential, and set the stage for a stronger community fabric, a more engaged citizenry.


Barrio’s TimeBanking program launched during the pandemic in partnership with Good Neighbors Time Bank.  Over the last year, the project expanded - establishing a strong working relationship with the national TimeBanksUSA organization, resulting in the creation of Barrio's own Time Bank. 

What is a leader?

No. B.A.D. co coreographies have included Bhangra dances, traditional Chinese dance, and a Moroccan dance in addition to Latin dances

Do i have to be a leader to participate in the LDC program?

We believe that traditional dances have to be respectful of cultural traditions, however, we try to minimize expenses to dancers

Is it free to participate?

Although performing in our city is top priority for us, we sometimes perform in other cities as well.


  Leadership Development Cohort  

The Barrio Leadership cohort was designed as a year-long program specifically designed for community members who are doing leadership work and who could benefit from skills, resources, and networking.


For the duration of the program, cohort members work independently and collaboratively on a number of community projects, and participate in a series of personal development trainings that include a visit to organizations from another city in the US to learn their approches and best practices for community engagement.

bottom of page