How Nonprofit Organizations Help Youth in Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods
Nonprofit organizations play a significant role in supporting and strengthening Philadelphia neighborhoods. When government at the city or state level fail to sufficiently provide essential social services to Philadelphia residents, nonprofits step in and fill the gaps. These organizations contribute in a number of ways, including but not limited to: after-school programs and camps, supplementary education, urban farms and community gardens, meal provision, business growth, employment training and so on.
Nonprofits often have a strong emphasis on programs for youth. The existence of such programs is important because, firstly, children in low-income households suffer from many unfair disadvantages, including the lack of educational resources and guidance they receive. Moreover children represent the future of these neighborhoods – their personal success can contribute to the prosperity of their communities. In order to support children in maximizing their potential, nonprofit organizations help provide the opportunities for children to learn and grow. For example, the Frankford branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs has been serving the youth of Frankford ever since its opening in 1938. This organization, using funding through the City of Philadelphia school district, has established a comprehensive after-school program for children. The participants are educated in health and life skills, the arts, career and education development, character and leadership, and sports, fitness and recreation.
Similarly, the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) of Powelton supports children’s education by helping school libraries in West Philadelphia. The nonprofit promotes childhood literacy by engaging volunteers in the Philadelphia public schools through re-opening and staffing libraries, academic mentoring and after-school enrichment. WePAC became particularly significant when the school district experienced a severe shortage of librarians when funds were limited. money got tighter. WePAC runs and places volunteers in 11 school libraries in West and Southwest Philadelphia, so that youth can retain their access to the library.
Other organizations take on more of an advocacy role. In Southwest Philadelphia, there are insufficient pre-K centers, leaving many children without access to childcare facilities. Thus, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) is pushing for increased pre-kindergarten funding in Pennsylvania through the campaign Pre-K for PA. These various examples illustrate why the that the care and support of children of all ages is vital to the health of the community, services in which and nonprofits often provide. services to address these needs.
Nonprofit Organizations and Food Access in Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods
Nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia are heavily involved in food provision programs. Because people in lower income neighborhoods in Philadelphia have historically had limited worse access to healthy food, unhealthy eating patterns developed even as healthier options became more widely available. Therefore, the mission of Philly Food Justice in Southwest Philadelphia is to help community members learn more about the essentials ofto leading a healthy life.
A key aspect of Philadelphia’s concerns about food is that of food sovereignty. That is, local communities have the right to democratically decide where their food comes from, how it is grown, and who profits from selling it. This has led to urban farms all over Philadelphia. While urban farms are not nonprofits per se, they do provide important services to the community members in giving them control over the produce and livestock they eat. There are currently about 20 urban farms and community gardens in Philadelphia. Urban farms get their volunteers and resources from a variety of sources. For example, a Jewish volunteer organization called Repair the World runs a program called the Philly Farm Crew in Powelton Village, which is a clearinghouse for volunteering on urban farms throughout the city.
Other nonprofits are more focused on the direct provision of meals. One of the most important organizations isnes the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA). Located in Center City, MANNA prepares, cooks and serves roughly 4,000 nutritious meals daily to people who suffer from severe illnesses in Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey. Over the years, they have enhanced the quality of the food, increased options, and adhered to diet modifications – so clients can choose a diet to meet their medical and nutritional needs.
Additionally, there are dozens of programs made available through faith-based organizations, such as Compelling People to Christ Worship Center and New Redeem Apostolic Church in Germantown, which distribute food to lower income families and serve food to the needy on a weekly basis.
Nonprofit Organizations and Community Business in Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods
Development in the areas of business and employment is a key focus of Philadelphia’s nonprofit organizations. Low-income communities are sometimes plagued by economic stagnation, with its members facing limited upward mobility. In the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Impact Services Corporation has been seeking to ameliorate such problems since 1974. Their three major areas of service include are employment training services, economic development and community development. For example, in their re-entry program for recently released inmates, Impact helps prepare them for re-entering the job force. They help these individuals with life-skills training, learning how to conduct a job search, and preparing their resume and interviewing skills.
Organizations and alliances have also been formed to improve the business environment in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Although they are not technically non-profits, these are associative organizations that volunteer their time and energy to do good for the community. These organizations include the Germantown Special Services District. GSSD identifies the key reasons for a loss of revenue to business owners, such as the high rate of theft and damage to businesses, and improves the security measures of shops in Germantown. Business owners also pay a tax in support of the movement to rid the streets of trash, so that they can enjoy a cleaner space for business operations.
Additionally, the Merchants Association in Allegheny has dedicated its services to the business corridor in Allegheny for forty years. Since the 1970s, economic struggles have left many empty storefronts along the corridor – but the Merchants Association has helped fill vacancies and improve the area. The organization seeks to help with the advertising and commercializing of the business corridor so that the stores there can continue to flourish. Thus, organizations all around Philadelphia play an important role in improving the economic well-being of their communities.
By Janne Hu