We're going back to school!
Supplying ingredients for school success
Mentors. Technology. Support. A safe place to go.

A simple recipe to life success. Yet, so many children — especially those 1,500 experiencing homelessness every day in Philadelphia, are left behind. In the wake of a global health crisis, social unrest, and injustice, PEC serves on the front lines, advocating for and providing equitable supports for our city’s most vulnerable families and children.

We envision a city where every child can access high-quality education and a supportive, caring environment. That is why PEC and Youth Service, Inc. (YSI)—two of Philadelphia’s leading social service agencies—are joining forces to expand and strengthen programs for children and youth during their return to school (digitally or in person) this fall. By working together, we can ensure 4,000 youth receive services, technology and support essential to thrive in school and beyond.

Back to school is very different this year. Many families are worried about technology access, internet, headsets for distance learning, and covering at-home meal costs.

Thanks to the support of people like you, PEC, in partnership with our affiliates, is reaching more children and youth than ever before. We have increased our collaborative outreach models. With YSI, we are offering safe spaces for distance learning to 95 students living in shelter. With Action for Early Learning we are distributing books to children alongside our food distribution in Mantua.

PEC's education team has provided homework help, learning activities while school was out, and strengthened our wifi network for our 235 residences. Our food relief team has nearly quadrupled distribution, reaching 45,000 meals, to meet an overwhelming community demand.

Since August we have distributed school supplies to 500 students living in our housing and our neighborhood. We will continue to reach new families throughout the year, especially as the schools move from virtual to hybrid to fully in person models. We anticipate needing another 300 sets of school supplies to meet the additional need, while we continue our efforts to level the educational playing field for everyone that we serve. Visit pec-cares.org/backtoschool to learn more about our work in educational support for families.

Check out how we helped Irene and Tamara here.
Kelly's Story - feeding the body and mind
National research suggests that having a stable place to live increases education outcomes. Anecdotally, we know this to be true; we see it every day when families come to our temporary housing. Preventing families in our West Philadelphia neighborhoods from having to enter shelter is also one of PEC’s priorities. 

Kelly (her name has been changed) is a mom who was worried about whether she would be evicted before school started again for her eight-year-old daughter. This year, she supplemented her food budget by coming to the Mantua Family Grab ‘n’ Go Meal distribution on Saturdays. “It’s a good place to get a meal, and they give out books for the children.”

Kelly was stretching her food budget in part because she was struggling to meet her rent each month. She was being threatened with eviction by her landlord. At one visit to the meal distribution, PEC’s Action for Early Learning staff told her about a new rental assistance program that PEC was offering. Kelly connected that Monday with the person handling requests. Together they were successful in stopping the eviction, giving Kelly peace of mind that she would continue to provide a stable home for her child. When asked for her feedback on the program, she tearfully responded, “Grateful – for everything.”
Volunteers Needed for Food Relief
Help us to alleviate hunger in our community. Volunteers (who can lift 20lb boxes) are needed on Thursdays between 9am and 1pm to distribute food safely at our location. In accordance with state law we require these clearances. Click here to apply or email tdowney@pec-cares.org.
Elevating the Conversation about Children Experiencing Homelessness
Experiencing homelessness in early childhood can adversely affect early school success. Children who participate in high quality early learning programs are more resilient, are stronger emotionally, and perform better academically after transitioning to K-12. Only 650 of more than 2,000 eligible children experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia are enrolled into high quality early learning programs such as Head Start or Early Head Start.

PEC's policy and Building Early Links for Learning (BELL) teams worked with the office of Congressperson Dwight Evans this month to engage partners, providers, and funder in a roundtable about early childhood education for children experiencing homelessness. As Kathy Desmond, PEC's president, urged the panelists and viewers, "We can do better."

You can watch the video here and read her full testimony here.