It just might take a miracle to help lead at-risk Philadelphia teens away from the obstacles that have become something of a cliche in the urban education saga.
It will take a miracle or, perhaps, youth organizations that share information with each other through a sophisticated network of information sharing technologies.
That’s what NPower PA does.
The Center City organization fundraises for, organizes, implements and maintains IT for nonprofits that can benefit but don’t have the capital to do so on their own.
In January, this six-year-old group, one of 11 in the national NPower Network, completed perhaps its most ambitious project. After winning the grant in July 2007, NPower PA began integrating a collaborative data collection system in four communities — three in Philly and one in Chester — in the hopes of helping those young people better navigate the pitfalls they face.
The data collection can seem impressive.
Some Youth Groupsinvolved in the project
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Chester
- YWCA Chester
- Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
- Fleisher Art Memorial
- Salvation Army
- West Philadelphia YMCA
- El Concilio
- The Lighthouse
- Norris Square Civic Association
- Youth United for Change
- West Kensington Boys & Girls Club
It means in the course of a teen’s trek from school to a variety of participating programs, an ID card can give an administrator access to his school grades and attendance, family contact information, food allergies and more. The idea is that when a student walks into, say, a neighborhood rec center, organizers will be able to know what his grades look like, how to better serve him, engage him and, ideally, help him make smart choices.
A miracle it’s not, but such information sharing is one more tool, spokesman Anthony Pisapia says, in helping kids make those decisions.
The initiative, which targets students from 12 to 18 and was funded by $250,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation‘s Youth Development Initiative, is just one of the more recent programs from NPower.
They’ve helped the city’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity build more homes, Girls Inc. help more girls and MANNA feed more people. For these and others, NPower creates affordable, packaged solutions that meet the necessities of in-need nonprofits. For some its a new Web site with the ability for supporters to donate online or other features. For others, its cost-effective IT Help desk services or database management. For all, Pisapia says, it’s about innovation.
They can make legacy systems more efficient or otherwise help nonprofits save more money and bring more of it in. That means they can do more of whatever it is they do.
Since its 2003 formation with 30 member organizations, NPower PA now serves more than 330, and has worked with nearly double that through its existence. More than 100 corporations and foundations have joined the William Penn Foundation and Rohm and Haas Company in funding the organization. In 2008, NPower PA brought in more than $730,000. The NPower Network was launched in Seattle by support from Microsoft.
Contact NPower about an assessment or otherwise collaborating.-30-
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