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color outside the lines

The Color Outside the Lines initiative is a 5- to 7-year strategic plan to invest in our community's future. The plan seeks to address racial inequities and disparities in the following areas: housing, economic opportunity and employment, education, criminal justice, and quality of life with focuses on mental health, health, arts and culture, and recreation.

Image by Olga Thelavart

the program works by:

Partnering with local government and community agencies to implement strategies that reduce systemic inequality and promotes equity initiatives that lead to racial and ethnic justice. 

Building strategic relationships that lead to greater collaboration among businesses, government, and community leaders in addressing systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. 

Engaging community leaders in conversations to deepen their understanding of systemic disparities, motivating them to actively address and mitigate these issues.  Overseeing programs to meet the needs of students and youth in communities vulnerable to racial and ethnic bias. 

Image by Olga Thelavart

In 2022-2023 we achieved the following: 

Engaged more than 750 participants in racial and ethnic bias training across Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe counties. 

Partnered with more than 400 organizations, businesses and non-profit leaders to identify critical areas of need for those in marginalized and disenfranchised communities. 

Collaborated with more than 200 educators, health care workers, business and community leaders to develop strategies to help those in need. 


Increased awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in the Lehigh Valley and launched health, education and criminal justice initiatives designed to address them. 

on the horizon:

  • Implement racial healing circles throughout the community to deepen the understanding of bias, equity, power, and privilege leading to increased community collaboration and support. 

  • Increase support of mental health initiatives that address racism as a public health crisis. 

  • Increase collaboration with local, state and national leaders to address the social determinants of health and reduce the impacts of racial discrimination based on zip code. 

House Frames

The Housing sub-committee seeks to co-design solutions with community stakeholders to deconstruct the systemic discrimination and inequalities in housing policies, practices and systems that prohibit the acquisition of fair affordable housing options for communities of focus.


A key component of COTL is our mental health initiative, which offers mental health counseling to individuals seeking to overcome obstacles related to racial and economic inequality. Through focused counseling, individuals accepted into the program receive seven one-on-one sessions at no cost with a licensed therapist, funded through grants and donor support.


In June 2021, the National Community Action Partnership's Equity and Economic Mobility Commission declared racism a public health crisis. Community Action's mental health initiative is designed to make mental health services accessible and affordable, and it aims to reduce the stigma in many communities of color that seeking mental health support is a sign of weakness.

Psychologist Session
economic opportunity
& employment

The Economic Opportunity and Employment subcommittee addresses the racial disparities that exist in the Lehigh Valley within the areas of workforce development, employability, economic mobility, transportation and entrepreneurship.


The Lehigh Valley’s convenient location to New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. contributes to its development and economic growth, making it one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. Without access to resources for economic growth, and policies that ensure all Lehigh Valley residents have access to that opportunity, disparities, especially those that exist for the community of focus.

Business Owner in Workshop
Diverse Kindergarten

The Education sub-committee addresses the disparities in the number of teachers who reflect our communities of focus in the Lehigh Valley (Pre School-Higher Ed), hiring practices of HR departments to hire teachers and staff who reflect our communities of focus, and the necessity of Cultural Humility and Implicit Bias trainings for all educators, school personnel, city and municipal staff across the Lehigh Valley.

criminal justice

The Criminal Justice plan addresses the demographic disparities, with an emphasis on our communities of focus that exist in the Lehigh Valley’s criminal justice complex. In response to the issue of mass incarceration, towns and cities across the country are reimagining the way that they envision criminal justice. It is time that the Lehigh Valley joins this growing movement to reduce and eliminate an unjust system of mass incarceration.

Judge's Gavel on Books
quality of life

The Quality of Life Sub-Committee of the Color Outside the Lines Initiative is dedicated to ensuring equitable access to Quality of Life for communities of focus within the greater Lehigh Valley in the areas of health, mental health, arts and culture, and recreation. By challenging the disparities caused by the inequities in these areas, as well as cultivating mutual respect for all people, it is the subcommittee’s intent to engage civil rights and cultural advocacy groups in our region to work together and achieve authentic and cohesive racial equity as it relates to the Quality of Life for the Lehigh Valley.


Our vision is that communities of focus, regardless of national origin, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, creed or socio-economic status, are ensured fair treatment, equality of opportunity, and fairness in access to information and resources. The mission is to identify, examine, and challenge the status quo towards the elimination of racial inequity, intentional or otherwise, in the lives of all communities of focus in the said areas of Quality of Life.

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