Dear Friend,

Fall is almost here, and as we pivot back to our regular work schedules, we remember that children everywhere are returning to school. For some students, especially those facing housing insecurity, back-to-school time is an anxious transition, perhaps attending a new school, meeting a new teacher, keeping up with higher expectations and new trends.

The parents HopePHL™ serves feel that stress too. Back-to-school time is easier for kids when they are supported, with new school supplies, backpacks, clothing, and mentorship. And that’s where we come in. HopePHL connects families who are engaging with our school-based and housing programs prepare for the school year. For caregivers like Deidra (name changed for privacy), we can help make navigating back-to-school and academics easier:

Deidra, a 54-year-old grandmother connected to our programs, unexpectedly became the caretaker of her five grandchildren. On a fixed income, she struggles to provide for them adequately.

Last year, before she became their caretaker, her grandchildren lacked proper supervision and missed numerous school days, causing two of them to repeat grades. Deidra sought help from her case manager at HopePHL. Our staff were able to assist her with food, books, and supplies for the summer, to help prevent summer learning losses. Determined to ensure her grandchildren receive a good education, Deidra is now personally tutoring them. She wants her grandchildren to embrace every opportunity available to them. She is making efforts to prepare them for the school year.

With help from HopePHL, Deidra is pushing them towards success. HopePHL’s case manager is helping her to connect the children with afterschool programming for the start of the academic year. Also, the case manager has signed Deidra up to participate in the next cohort of our Parenting Collaborative program. This staff led program incorporates peer mentoring aimed at guiding parents through practical activities that can be used to improve in-home learning.

We serve many more caregivers like Deidra, who passionately advocate for their children. Our children are ready to thrive! Together, we can help them (more on how to support our work here).

Thank you for being part of our community.

Kathy Desmond
HopePHL Partnership with Heritage West Archaeology Project
Heritage West: The West Philadelphia Community Archaeology Project, in partnership with HopePHL, the Community Education Center (CEC), Tabb Management, University City Arts League, University of Pennsylvania students, The Anthropology Department at the University of Pennsylvania, and Penn Museum, aims to recover stories of the residents of the historic Black Bottom neighborhood before the 1960s.

Using archaeological investigation, archival research, oral histories, and state-of-the-art technology, Heritage West team members work together to unearth and preserve untold records dating from the 19th century to the present.

Penn Museum will excavate a parking spot at Community Education Center (CEC) 3500 Lancaster Avenue. Anyone can participate in the dig! (See details in the event section at the end of this email).

Mark your calendars: International Archaeology Day is on October 21, 2023. West Philadelphia neighbors are invited to the CEC excavation site at 3500 Lancaster Avenue to participate in this community archaeology project!
Support Students Experiencing Homelessness
The Philadelphia School District identified its highest number of children and youth experiencing homelessness – 8,383 in 2022! This is a 7% increase from 2019 and a 94% increase since 2014. School Districts across the state identified 40,000 homeless children and youth in Fiscal Year 2022, enough to fill most every seat at Citizens Bank Park.  

Thankfully, the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $36 million to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s ‘Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness’ (ECYEH) program, which subcontracted a little over $3 million to the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). SDP expanded its capacity to provide staffing to train school personnel in 300 public district and charter schools and provide direct services like uniforms, transportation, mentoring, summer programming, school supplies, and more.

Without this support thousands of school students face many barriers to a high-quality education. 

The ARP funding expires June 30, 2024.  You can help!
Raise your hand for students experiencing homelessness by taking on the action item to the right!

CHALLENGE: Can the Philadelphia School District and the Shapiro Administration replace the expiring ARP funding to maintain the level of support that is being developed by school districts and charters? 
ACTION ITEM: Contact Governor Shapiro and urge him to increase funding for the education of students experiencing homelessness: Governor Josh Shapiro ( 
HopePHL Meeting with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
L-R top row: Scott Canon, Gwen Bailey, Joe Willard, HopePHL
L-R bottom row: Lyn Kirschenbaum, Matthew Heckles, HUD
Kathy Desmond, Kelly Durand, Hope PHL
Matthew Heckles, the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Region III, and his team met with the HopePHL staff. The goal was to provide the HUD representatives with information to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges related to housing instability, homelessness, and community development: particularly concerning families, youth, and other Philadelphia residents. 

The HopePHL team provided a tour of Gloria's Place in West Philadelphia, which is renowned as Pennsylvania's pioneer structure to encompass emergency, transitional, and permanent housing units within a single location. 

Before concluding the meeting, the HopePHL team and HUD representatives engaged in discussions concerning inventive approaches to addressing housing insecurity. These included strategies like proactive prevention and diversion initiatives, aid for rentals, and funding to uphold affordable housing options. 
Back to School Time!
Aramark employees participated in a day of service on August 15. They assembled 50 backpacks at their offices. James Wright from HopePHL attended the event and provided the team with information and answered any questions about HopePHL.
On August 23 at Rowan House, members of Giant’s Community Impact department, along with InteHealth volunteers, and HopePHL staff assembled 250 bags, a mix of backpacks and cooler bags, with school supplies, snacks, and hygiene products to support children starting school. The bags were distributed during two separate events for our Emergency, Transitional, and Supporting Housing programs where families were welcomed to games, food, and informational tables from our programs!
Thank you to everyone who donated Back to School supplies!

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Disciples of Christ Motorcycle Club
U.S. General Services Administration
Word of Life Healing Ministries
Outdoor Playful Learning at Families Forward
The Everyday Learning Play Spaces team recently installed outdoor playful learning installations at Families Forward! Check out the multi-directional sign posts pictured here! Each sign post contains unique prompts to encourage children and their caregivers to use imagination, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to interact with their environment. The posts were intentionally designed for families to walk around them to engage with the prompts, promoting gross motor play.  

These sign posts were inspired by the families’ and staff’s requests for more outdoor play that inspires imagination and encourages families to see the entire campus of the Families Forward program as a space for play and learning. These outdoor posts accompany eight indoor installations in a similar style, one being a floor to ceiling mural that the team is excited to reveal very soon. We wanted sign posts throughout the Families Forward campus to inspire “scavenger hunt” activities. Families can search for each installation and engage with the various prompts, creating an iterative experience for both children and caregivers. Stay tuned as we reveal the Families Forward mural and the indoor installations! 
PA Head Start and HopePHL Release “A State-Level Brief: Participation of Infants and Toddlers Experiencing Homelessness in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania”
This brief builds on the earlier "A State-Level Brief: Participation of Young Children Experiencing Homelessness in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania" (PA Head Start State Collaboration Office, January 2022) and provides a more focused examination of the experience of homelessness for infants and toddlers and their participation in early childhood programs. One is more likely to be in a shelter as an infant or toddler than at any other age, but 66% of children identified as homeless live doubled up due to economic reasons and are not being served by the homeless housing system.
Baby Boy And Girl Playing With Toys In Playroom Together

Each year on the third Friday in September, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) at partners with activists, artists, architects, stakeholders and other citizens to transform metered parking into temporary public parks and green spaces.

Join us to celebrates parks and other public spaces in cities across the country and raise awareness of the need for more pedestrian-friendly spaces in our urban areas.

Friday, September 15
Community Education Center
3500 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia

Contact Kevin Brown at [email protected] or 267-777-5820.

Comcast Affordable Connectivity Program Sign Up and HopePHL Resource Event
Get connected through Comcast specialists to the Affordable Connectivity Plan, which is a federal program. This will provide $30/month off of phone or internet bills.

Many people who are receiving SNAP, WIC, SSI, or Medicare are eligible. You do not have to be a Comcast customer.

Wednesday, October 4
Rowan House
325 N Spring Garden St, Philadelphia

Select a time slot here

Children's Work Group for Early Childhood Conference
Dr. Janette Herbers will share final results of a national survey taken by shelter staff who work with children experiencing homelessness.

In addition, we will discuss new data on the prevalence of childhood homelessness in Philadelphia and surrounding communities.

Friday, October 20
Online Zoom Link

Thank you so much for being a part of our community!
Main Office: (267) 777-5880
325 N. 39th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
​Email: [email protected]