WPSi Alumni Newsletter
Hello alumni! We hope your week is going well so far. 😊 We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on including new staff, a new recruitment, a chance for professional pictures, and the launch of our first Alumni Event Series! #taxseasonbabyyy 

Scroll down to read more.

Meet the New WPSI Staff!

In just a few short weeks we’ve grown from a team of 6 to 9 - the largest team that WPSI has ever had in our history! 😮 We’ve gained some pretty dope people on the team – feel free to drop in and welcome them to the WPSI fam!
Mariya Khandros
Project Manager
As a Project Manager , Mariya will be helping us figure out how to replicate the WPSI model so that it can be implemented in other parts of the city and expand our impact. 🔑

What motivates you to work hard?
Mariya : I work hardest when I believe my work is making the world a gentler place to live.
What makes you laugh the most?
My puppy is a never-ending source of entertainment; I should just cancel Netflix! She knows she’s not allowed to bite, so when I call her she “runs into me” with her mouth open like Ms. Pacman because, technically, that’s not biting. Unfortunately, she knows she’s cute, so she definitely tries to get away with everything.

Favorite song at the moment?
"Malamente" by Rosalia

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
I would split my day between snuggling my puppy and working out at my gym.

Any advice for our alumni?
It helps me to remember that almost every skill can be learned, even ones that appear innate. For example, early in my career, I assumed that being good at networking was a natural skill; either one was born with it or not. Over time, I realized that I could practice connecting with people the same way that I practice writing, math, or cooking. Now when I see someone excelling at a skill that feels out of my reach, I ask them how they learned it. This change in perspective made many situations less intimidating for me.
Diamond Poyer, M.Ed.
Manager of Training & Evaluation
As the Manager of Training & Evaluation , Diamond will be taking over the WPSI Classroom! Diamond will be doing a mix of teaching and evaluating the progress of participants in the cohort. 📚

What motivates you to work hard?
Diamond: I am motivated to work hard through the awareness and appreciation for the struggle of those who came before me and paved the way for me to pursue access to all of the opportunities I go after. I am also self-motivated to continuously become the best version of myself each day, and that requires putting in the hard work. There is no easy route to my version of success.

What makes you laugh the most?
GIFS of dogs in wigs to express my thoughts in conversations.

Favorite song at the moment?
"Worthy" by India Arie

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
Relax on a tropical beach with a great book and a journal, some good food, and listen to the ocean waves.

Any advice for our alumni?
Be clear about who you are, why you are the way you are, and how you want to navigate the world as you continue to evolve. Live your life in peace on purpose. Design the personal and professional life that best serves you. Invest in yourself in some way each day before you give your time, talents, and energy to the world.
Romaine Thrower
Manager of Employer Services
As the Manager of Employer Services , Romaine will oversee our recruitment and manage relationships with our employer partners. 💼

What motivates you to work hard?
Romaine: I love to challenge myself to see how far I can go or how much I can accomplish. Once I accomplish my goals that becomes my motivation to continue along the path of success.
What makes you laugh the most?
Old episodes of Martin will keep me laughing hysterically. 

Favorite song at the moment?
"Doubt" by Mary J. Blige

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
If I could do anything for a day, I would have lunch with Michelle Obama and discuss her book.

Any advice for our alumni?
Keep working hard and continue to build positive relationships inside and outside of your network. Remember, people may not remember your name, but they will remember how you made them feel.
Improvathon Recap 🎭
This past weekend Bright Inventions, the facilitators of our Improv classes at WPSI, hosted a fundraiser by improv-ing for 8 hours straight and reached their goal of raising $1,000 for WPSI! Shout out to Josh and Cait for participating in some of the skits. Check out Bright Invention's website here for more upcoming events.
City-Wide SEPTA Bus Operator Recruitment 🚌
We launched the recruitment for SEPTA Bus Operators earlier this week ! Alumni are not eligible to apply for new cohorts BUT we do offer $25 for all alumni who send new participants our way! Pass along this information and tell your friends and family to list you as a reference - they do not have to be West Philadelphia residents for this cohort. Alumni will receive $25 for each person they refer that joins the program and signs the Participant Agreement .
Alumni Events & Programming
University City MIX at The Study
University City District's networking event series MIX returns on Wednesday, February 26th to The Study at University City (20 S. 33rd Street) from 5:30-7:30 PM. Network with other local professionals and alumni and enjoy pay-as-you-go beverages and free bites in The Study's vibrant and sophisticated "Living Room" lobby.

MIX is free to attend, but RSVPs are encouraged. RSVP Here.

Wednesday, February 26 th | 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
WPSI Tax Event Series
It’s tax season! Come to any of the sessions below for assistance with anything tax related. These sessions will be facilitated by tax guru Taylor Keitt, MSS, LSW. Check your inboxes and our Facebook page in the upcoming week for more details!
Open Forum – File Your Taxes at WPSI
Friday, February 28 th | 4-7pm
WPSI Suite | 3801 Market Street, Suite 206

The New W-4
Friday, March 6 th | 4-6pm
WPSI Suite | 3801 Market Street, Suite 206

Taxes for Entrepreneurs & Small Businesses
Friday, March 20 th | 4-6pm
WPSI Suite | 3801 Market Street, Suite 206
WPSI Specialists

If you are interested in being a pioneer in our alumni outreach efforts, sign up to become a WPSI Specialist! WPSI Specialists will receive the paid opportunities to speak on WPSI’s behalf and other opportunities to organize events specifically for our alumni.

In this role, you can expect:
  • To Get Paid - Receive compensation for public speaking events on behalf of WPSI. Engage with local residents at recruitment events, current participants, or potential funders and employers by sharing facts about WPSI and your experience in the program
  • To Volunteer - Assist the WPSI team with coordinating events for WPSI alumni. Help the WPSI team implement and advertise events and programming specifically for our alumni
  • To Engage – Participate in community advocacy, professional development, and mentoring. Specialized training will be provided to WPSI Specialists 
Jobs & Professional Development Opportunities
Accessing Your Power at Work
If you're trying to figure out how to move up in your workplace check out this free workshop on Thursday, February 20th at 11 AM. Facilitators will go over scenarios about how to advocate for yourself in the workplace. RSVP here.  

For questions call 215- 751- 4056 or email bflcdornsifecenter@drexel.edu

Friday, March 6 th | 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Dornsife Center | 3209 Spring Garden Street
Through this work we hope to foster connections among our alumni and introduce West Philadelphia residents to WPSI. If you are interested in attending our monthly meetings, reach out to Tiffany .
Census Hiring Event
The Census is hiring! Applicants must be over 18 – no educational requirements. Part-time and Full-time jobs available with pay between $23 - $25 per hour. To RSVP Click Here. 

Thursday, February 20 th at 2:00 p.m.
Dornsife Center | 3209 Spring Garden Street
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia | Part-Time Office Assistant
The Chamber is currently looking to hire a part time office assistant to work in their Office Services Department. This staff member will work approximately 15-20 hours per week, likely through May with a possibility to extend. The Office Services Associate will assist with Conference Room set ups, printing, and delivery/pick-up of program/event materials. Requirements include: being able to life 70 lbs, basic computer skills, and experience using copy center equipment.

If you're interested please email your resume to Tiffany Smith at tiffany@universitycity.org .
Affordable Headshots 📸
It's time to update those selfies with a professional headshot! On Friday, March 6th, two women-owned companies are offering appointments for $35 professional photos in honor of International Women's Day. And get this! All of the money they make is going to our friends at Career Wardrobe to help people get fresh, professional styles for interviews or jobs. They are asking people to make an appointment online for a 15-minute slot between 9AM and 6pm at the Klimpton Hotel Palamar in Center City at 117 S. 17th Street. Whether you want to update your LinkedIn or just have a professional picture to show off, click here to make an appointment .
FREE Job Training for Young Men Impacted by Violence: Community Health Worker/Certified Peer Specialist Dual Certification
The Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice at Drexel University has developed a FREE, PAID job training program for men ages 18-30 with lived experience of violence to receive dual certification as Community Health Workers and Certified Peer Specialists. This program is a good fit for young men interested in becoming healers and helpers in their communities and entering the human service or healthcare fields. 
The basic requirements for eligibility are:
  • identify as male
  • ages 18-30
  • lived experience of violence (either to themselves or someone close to them)
  • HS diploma or GED
  • willing to commit to 9 weeks of training (4 days per week, Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday)
The deadline to apply is March 13, 2020. To apply, please send (1) your resume and (2) a completed application form to either Casey Chanton at crc72@drexel.edu or to Casey at 1505 Race Street, 6th Floor, Philadelphia, PA, 19102.
If you have any questions regarding these opportunities please email Tiffany Smith here
"What are some first-time home buyer programs in the city?"
Great question! That’s exciting that you’re looking into buying a new home 😊 The team has pulled together a few resources that you can check out:

PHDC is offering a homebuyer assistance grant of up to $10,000 (or 6% of the home’s purchase price, whichever is lower) to assist first-time homebuyers reduce the principal, cover down payment and loan closing costs.

NACA provides comprehensive housing counseling and access to affordable mortgages.

IDA programs help establish a pattern of regular saving, provide an incentive for saving in the form of match money, and offer education and training that helps participants learn long-term money management skills. Participants can save up to $2,000, which will be matched at the end of the Program with $4,000, for a total of $6,000 to use for home purchase.

Through the First Front Door (FFD) Program, qualified home buyers can receive a 3-to-1 matching contribution. For every $1 you contribute, you can receive $3 in grant assistance, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Do you have any advice you’d like to receive from the WPSI team? Submit your questions here and the team will respond in the next newsletter
Meet three graduates of University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative who are on the path to realizing their career dreams with Philadelphia employers:
Matt Bergheiser
University City District

Patrick Bayer
Manager, Continuous Improvement

Caitlin Garozzo
Senior Manager, Learning & Development

Fontaine Gutierrez
Operations Coordinator

Mariya Khandros
Project Manager
Sarah Steltz
Executive Director,
West Philadelphia Skills Initiative

Joshua Park
Senior Manager, Employer Services

Diamond Poyer
Manager, Training & Evaluation

Tiffany Smith
Alumni Services Coordinator

Romaine Thrower
Manager, Employer Services
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