Educational Community Impact Initiative

Emerging Leader Fellow: Steve Lainez, 2013-2014

Eastern North Philadelphia has some of the lowest performing schools in the city. Compared to the School District of Philadelphia as a whole, schools in this area have higher levels of chronically truant students and lower performance scores in math and reading. This largely poor and Latino community however, has been exceptionally well-served by Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a multi-service provider agency. Last year, Congreso coordinated a community-wide effort to apply for a federal Promise Neighborhood grant that did not get selected for funding, but did mobilize the community to consider what it needed to increase school graduation and attendance rates. The process of applying for the Promise Neighborhood grant revealed that the educational institutions and resources in this community are disconnected and ultimately fail to link parents and children to available resources. The educational crisis affecting the children, youth and families of Eastern North Philadelphia requires broad cross-sector coordination. Additionally, while there are numerous programs which have the potential to impact the educational success of children, these community assets and resources lack coordination and are often overlooked or unknown by the School District.

Building on the momentum from the Promise Neighborhood application process, Congreso has been asked by the Promise Neighborhood Coalition to anchor the creation of a resource to remedy this disconnection. Steve will work with Congreso’s educational team to convene the coalition of community leaders and key education stakeholders to: 1) develop an asset map detailing the continuum of kindergarten to post-secondary educational resources in Eastern North Philadelphia, 2) produce a Parents’ and Students’ Guide to Educational Resources, and 3) train the staff within schools as well as social service organizations on using the guide. This resource will be available in both English and Spanish in hard copy as well as online.

Steve will work with coalition members to distribute the hard copy guides throughout the community.  The online version will be available and promoted to community members through local computer access and training sites, where staff within them will also receive training and promotion materials about the guide. Steve will also develop a sustainability plan for maintaining an updated guide.