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University City Science Center

2/18/2016 |

Under the title Breadboard, the Science Center creates project-based STEAM programs. Funding supported the launch of the Department of Making + Doing, a collaborative effort of Breadboard, NextFab, The Hacktory and Public Workshop. Bringing together expertise in design, fabrication, electronics and art, DM+D encourages learning through doing, providing hands-on experiences for the public, with an emphasis on engaging youth in the intersection of arts and technology in new and creative ways.

Update: During the grant period, DM+D hosted weekly programs including: Drop In + Do, a program for teens and adults, novices and experts to collaborate and explore new ideas and technologies; Civic Sensors, where programmers and hardware enthusiasts design and build sensors and data analysis tools; and Kid’s Club, an after school program for 3rd to 5th grade students to make a project.  They also created a mobile maker cart that was used to conduct activities at local block parties, the Food Trust’s Night Market Festival and Philadelphia Parking Day. DM+D has hosted 314 workshops and events, delivered nearly 1,000 hours of maker education and community programming and engaged more than 3,500 program participants. DM+D programming drew a blend of youth and adults from across the City of Philadelphia, with 40% living within walking distance of DM+D and the Science Center’s West Philadelphia campus.

University City District

2/18/2016 |

University City District (UCD) aims to leverage the prosperity of West Philadelphia’s academic and medical sectors to support West Philadelphians living in poverty. The grant supports the first Industry Partnership training model run by a Business Improvement District (BID). BIDs like UCD work to improve the economic vitality of their geographic area and are led by that area’s businesses. In the Industry Partnership model employers participate in the design of training curricula which ensures that participants are trained in appropriate skills and competencies. The BID model allowed UCD to build their Industry Partnership on longstanding, high-value relationships to employers.

Update: UCD’s primary objective was to design and offer employer-driven training to West Philadelphia residents in four industries with available job opportunities. A total of 129 people were served and 84 participants are now employed as a result of the program. While they did not meet their goal for number of people served (129 vs. 145), the program is now stronger than ever due to a complete overhaul of one of their four industry offerings. This revision was made in response to a mismatch between employer needs and student availability. While arduous to maneuver, that effort highlighted a centerpiece of UCD’s partnership model: their ability to respond rapidly to customers—employers and students alike. From UCD’s grant report: “We feel strongly that real innovation is a product of how many swings you take, not how many misses. The Skills Initiative continually seeks to refine its model, seeking new projects, new jobs, new employers and better outcomes. This means taking some risks, which are always necessary in order to grow.”

Temple Contemporary, Tyler School of Art

2/18/2016 |

Temple Contemporary, along with its partners the Conservation Center of Art and Historic Artifacts and WHYY, designed the “Restoring Ideals” project to address Philadelphia’s evolving relationship to its founding ideals of tolerance, equality and independence. Their creative and multifaceted approach involved ten organizations chosen from 25 through a public, online poll hosted on WHYY’s website. Each of the ten picked an object from their archives emblematic of these historic ideals to be conserved by professionals at Temple Contemporary. Through this public process conservation was presented as an important way of preserving current work to serve as an example of our shared values both today and in the future.

Update: Over 16,000 people voted for the initial videos on WHYY, giving a tremendous boost to the awareness of the 25 organization. Over 9,000 people visited the exhibition at Temple Contemporary providing further exposure to the themes underlying “Restoring Ideals.”

Spark Philadelphia

2/18/2016 |

Funding supported the launch of Spark in Philadelphia. Spark’s unique workplace-based mentorship experiences provide seventh and eighth grade students with a positive adult role model and the exposure to workplaces that they need to understand why school is important early in their education. 

Update: During its spring 2013 pilot, Spark reached 67 students in three schools. In fall 2013 they expanded to six schools and enrolled 110 students. Data from the spring 2013 pilot showed that participating students: gained key skills such as goal setting, networking and public speaking; increased their attendance; and, improved their grades during the program.

Single Stop USA

2/18/2016 |

Combining proprietary software and deep local partnerships, Single Stop will help students at Community College of Philadelphia identify all available financial resources to help them stay in school. Identified by GreenLight Fund as a valuable innovation for the region, the Barra grant will help launch Single Stop at the college. The college will pay to continue the model through revenue saved in tuition dollars.

Update: As of October 2014, Single Stop and their partners had screened 1,424 students for government benefits and connected them to $2,483,733 in supports, tax refunds and services. Single Stop’s impact on students’ educational success is also a critical indicator of whether their model will contribute to long-term financial self-sufficiency and they have begun to measure educational advancement using semester-to-semester persistence and credit completion data. Single Stop’s collaborative and mutually-beneficial partnership with Community College of Philadelphia has become a best practice in Single Stop’s national growth strategy. Local organizations, including the Campaign for Working Families, Community Legal Services and the Health Federation of Philadelphia, have also played an important role in the modernized system’s success.

People’s Light & Theatre Company

2/18/2016 |

People’s Light introduced a new program, New Play Frontiers, which brings writers into communities for a series of residencies involving a process that directly engages community partners and their constituents from a scripts’ conception to production.  This supports People’s Light’s focus on strengthening ties with surrounding communities and building greater engagement with theater.  For more about People’s Light process, read Producing Director Zak Berkman’s blog here.

Update: New Play Frontiers has been successful with regard to play-making, community engagement and organizational change.  Six new plays have been conceived through engagement with surrounding communities.  In the fall of 2015, public readings of two new works took place.  These included a play by Elisa Davis informed by interactions with Kennett Square residents, employees of La Communidad Hispana and the audience at the Garage Youth Center.  Karen Hartman drew inspiration for her play from Dawn’s Place and Project Dawn Court.  Winter 2015 will bring Dominque Morisseau’s piece, conceived through conversations with the Melton Center and members of the West Chester community. To support this community based work, People’s Light created an internal cross-department committee.  They also hired their first Director of Community Investment.

Partners for Sacred Places

2/18/2016 |

Partners for Sacred Places created the Philadelphia Theatrical Design Center. The Center is the first of its kind: a low-cost, co-working space for costume, set, lighting and sound designers who often do not have formal workspaces or opportunities to easily work with others. The Center will has the necessary space and equipment for both individual designers and theater organizations.

Update:  After a false start when the original location for the Design Center fell through, Partners regrouped, found an alternative space and continued conversations with the design community to determine the best uses for the Center.  The Center will launch in the spring of 2016 in Greys Ferry.  Costume, set, lighting and sound designers will be able to utilize the Center’s resources, which include shared office facilities, a costume construction shop and computers with Vectorworks drafting software.

Opera Philadelphia

2/18/2016 |

Funding supported Opera Philadelphia’s research on consumer motivation and values. They looked at visitor behavior across all types of entertainment, not just attendance at Opera Philadelphia. Opera Philadelphia investigated how the subscription model and other sources of earned income have changed over time in order to learn from and adapt to changing consumer behavior. Read more about Opera Philadelphia’s project here.

Update: Opera Philadelphia completed the consumer research which is allowing it to consider how it might redefine the ways in which it relates to the public.  By analyzing the nuanced understanding of the motivations and values of its current and potential consumers obtained during this process, Opera Philadelphia intends to optimize the patron experience through new approaches to delivering world-class opera.  As these strategies are determined, Opera Philadelphia will share changes to their work with the community.

GreenLight Fund

2/18/2016 |

The Barra grant helped launch GreenLight Fund, which is based in Boston, in Philadelphia. GreenLight identifies its community’s most persistent social problems and then finds the best national solutions to help solve that problem locally. With the support of community partners, GreenLight then makes strategic investments to speed that solution’s expansion.

Update: GreenLight began its work in Philadelphia by building a 30-member Selection Advisory Council which helps GreenLight identify social problems that are persistent and underinvested in locally. Work had just begun when GreenLight learned it had been selected to receive a $2 million Social Impact Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, allowing GreenLight to significantly increase its investments. After a national RFP process and months of due diligence, in 2013 GreenLight selected two models to expand to Philadelphia: Year Up and Single Stop USA.

Congreso de Latinos Unidos

2/18/2016 |

Building upon cultural strengths of the Latino community, Congreso tested whether their health and fitness program has better outcomes when classes include the whole family and/or mobile technology and social media. Temple University’s Department of Public Health and the Center on Obesity Research and Education evaluated the interventions. Read more about Congreso’s project here.

Update: Congreso completed their ambitious pilot and shared several challenges and course-corrections they faced along the way. Congreso contacted hundreds of potential participants, but found the number of eligible participants were far below what they had anticipated. In addition to increasing their capacity for outreach, they found that the multiple components of the program design also required greater staff capacity than originally anticipated. The evaluation, provided by Temple University, was one of the most valuable aspects of the program, but it too presented challenges as the evaluation’s effective design required adaptations to the program design. Congreso incorporated many of the lessons-learned from this model into its other organizational programs and continues to seek funding to make Healthy Movimientos the norm in health and fitness programming.

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