While environmental initiatives are essential to creating sustainable communities, addressing education issues is equally important. The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) was started in the 2003-04 academic year to support literacy efforts in the community. In support of WePAC’s Open Books Open Minds initiative, Impact100 recently awarded the organization a $100,000 grant.
Developing literacy at a young age is critical to ensuring students graduate from high school. Low-income and minority students are found to be especially at risk. In 2009, 83% of students from low-income households were below the “proficient” level on the National Assessment of Education Progress reading test.
In West Philadelphia, the median household income is less than $20,000 annually and 80% of public school students score below grade level in reading or math, cites WePAC.
Open Books Open Minds aims to re-open public school libraries closed because of funding cuts. The program began with six volunteers in one elementary school. Since then, the program has reached seven schools, circulating 2,500 books a week to 3,000 students. They have 65 trained volunteers and more than 30,000 donated books.
The Impact100 grant will help increase library hours and renovate and re-open more public school libraries. Their goal: reach 5,000 children. The money will also support after-school programming run by WePAC, such as newspaper clubs.
Impact100, whose mission is “1 woman, 1 vote,” unites women through a common philanthropic effort. Each member donates $1,000 annually. These contributions create a grant for nonprofit organizations chosen by the Impact100 collective. Each woman receives one vote in making this decision.
This June, operating grants of $20,000 were also given to the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network and Urban Tree Connection. Operating grants of $12,000 were awarded to the Community Arts Center, and Concern for Health Options: Information, Care and Education.
Find out more about Impact100 and the grant proposal process here.