Educating Philly's Youth to Break the Cycle of Poverty
Through my job as a tour guide, several days a week I have the unique opportunity and joy of representing Philadelphia. While I mostly try to show the good side of the City of Brotherly Love, it’s hard not to mention the systemic poverty. Philadelphia has the highest number of poverty in America and the highest number of deep poverty, defined as living at half of the poverty line. We have over 160,000 residents living in deep poverty. It is more than 11 percent of our population, and of that number, over 60,000 are children. For all of Philadelphia’s beauty, culture and its’ rich history, the poverty issue is too prevalent to pass over.
As my tour bus makes its way through West Philly, past boarded up homes and ever increasing lines at food banks throughout the city, it’s impossible not to address the reality of the surroundings. Dr. King once said, “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject poverty.” This summer, Teach 2 the Core was fortunate enough to be a small part in an amazing non-profit, WesGold Fellows. The founder, James Burnett, runs an internship where he pays students to attend a program Monday through Thursday from 9-3. The students learn financial planning, communication skills, teamwork and, through Teach 2 the Core, they receive intense literacy tutoring four hours per week. As part of Burnett’s vision, the students are set up with a savings account which WesGold Fellows matches dollar for dollar, up to $2,000, towards their education. He brings in guest speakers, all professionals in the fields where the students have expressed an interest. Each week, a visit to a local entrepreneur is arranged in hopes of encouraging the students to envision their future.
It is programs like this that will help to make a difference in our neighborhoods. Philadelphia is an amazing city, made so by its people, but we can all do better. The children of our city need us. We were recently honored to be featured locally by WHYY and nationally by NPR. Please check out their story on us here and view our homepage to learn how you can help us in our mission to make a difference.