With music, food and drinks, college students gathered Saturday night to party – not at one of the Richland Township bars, but in Johnstown.

Organizers of Allegheny Underground, a new, crowdsourced app to promote happenings in Johnstown, hosted the event, a “Masquerave,” at the Grand Halle in Cambria City as a way to reach out to Pitt-Johns­town students this fall.

With a soft launch this summer, about 500 people already have downloaded the Allegheny Underground app, program director and Pitt-Johnstown sophomore Dan Klein said.

The app, available on the Apple iTunes store and Google Play, is run by students and young people in the area and was funded through a $25,000 Heinz Endowments grant from Community Foundation for the Alleghenies through a proposal submitted by Entrepreneurial Alchemy and developed with the help of faculty and students at Pitt-Johnstown.

City Mayor Frank Janakovic and ACRP also were a part of the grant applicant team.

Claire Letts, Allegheny Underground director of curation and development Pitt-Johnstown junior, said she is working with businesses who submit events and also seeking out happenings in the area.

She also is discussing ways to reach more people, such as working with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and area high schools, too.

“There is so much more than I ever imagined here in Johnstown,” she said.

“We hear that from people who download the app, too. I love it when people say they are surprised at what they find.”

The concept furthers work to show students what the city can offer, Entrepreneurial Alchemy Director Don Bonk said.

“We want to get them to work here, to recreate here, to stay here,” he said. “The mayor has been pushing for connectivity between Pitt-Johnstown and the city, too.”

Janakovic, who was at the Grand Hall as the crowd grew, said introducing and reintroducing young people to Johnstown are part of revitalization efforts.

“This is a piece of the larger puzzle,” he said. “We were really looking for a way to bring young people, particularly students, to the city.”

Area leaders have been working to put together a second year of industry tours, too, to showcase jobs and create opportunities for potential internships at Johnstown businesses, Janakovic said.

Pitt-Johnstown, Entrepreneurial Alchemy, JARI and the Greater Johnstown Cambria County Chamber of Commerce organized the tours, which run through Oct. 23. Employers who wish to participate can contact Janna Kohler at jannakohler@pitt.edu.

More information about Allegheny Underground is available at alleghenyunderground.org, or those who wish to connect to organizers about upcoming events can email claireletts@yahoo.com or dan4824@gmail.com.

Kecia Bal is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at @KeciaBKay

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