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July 06, 2015

West Philly receives federal grants for career readiness program

A $290,000 federal grant will train AmeriCorps members to run program

Promise Zone Grants
Overbrook High School Contributed Art/Google Street View

Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia

Philadelphia received $290,000 in federal grants Monday to support the Promise Zone in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia.

The grants will train AmeriCorps members to run a college and career readiness program designed to help disadvantaged high school students graduate with the skills needed to advance to a higher institution or enter the workforce. The funding, awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, will be awarded over three years with the possibility for renewal.

The grant provides funding for 25 AmeriCorps members to serve about 2,500 students in four Promise Zone high schools — Overbrook, West Philadelphia, Paul Robeson and Parkway West. In three of those schools, 100 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged.

"Mantua faces persistent, high poverty – nearly double the poverty rate of the entire city – low educational attainment, high crime, low rates of employment and high rates of long-term housing vacancy,” Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement. “But, Mantua also has strong neighborhood assets, like transit, new developments, a strong anchor in Drexel University, high-quality early learning opportunities, access to skills development and employment opportunities, and more, supporting its transformation. 

"This grant will further help Mantua create lasting change by preparing young adults to enter the economy as educated, productive citizens.”

More than $30 million has been invested in Mantua as a result of its Promise Zone designation, a federal initiative to address areas challenged by deep and persistent poverty. The city must raise private funds to match the federal award.

AmeriCorps members will be trained to assist students in exploring their post-high school plans and how to support the students in reaching those goals.

Philadelphia will partner with Los Angeles as part of the program, marking the first partnership between two Promise Zone communities.