Mayor Kenney sees StartUp PHL's Call for Ideas as a way to support immigrants - Philly


Feb. 20, 2017 12:00 pm

Mayor Kenney sees StartUp PHL’s Call for Ideas as a way to support immigrants

The fifth iteration of StartUp PHL's Call for Ideas gave $130,675 to these six nonprofits.

Mayor Kenney (center) with representatives from the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

(Photo by Samantha Madera for the City of Philadelphia)

As Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney read his remarks on Friday at the announcement of the winners from StartUp PHL’s Call for Ideas, one word popped up from the page and made him stop: immigrants.

The description of Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians’ project, an internship program focused on immigrant-owned businesses, made him halt his prepared speech to signal its relevancy.

“We have to show them we appreciate the efforts they’re making in the tech world and try to provide them with the resources necessary to help them thrive,” Kenney said of Philly’s immigrant community and the Call for Ideas. “We don’t have to teach them how to work hard. They know how to do that already.”

But for Kenney, the entire point is missed unless the immigrant community sees Philadelphia as safe harbor.

“The first thing is, immigrants have to feel safe living in our city despite of what’s coming out of the federal government and Harrisburg,” Kenney said. “They have to be assured that we’re going to have their back and treat them with respect.”

We now have the full details on all grant recipients (and how much went to each nonprofit):

  • Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians ($25,000) – The Welcoming Center plans to use its Call for Ideas grant to cultivate entrepreneurial leadership among first generation immigrant youth and provide assistance to immigrant-owned small businesses with technology.
  • Coded by Kids ($16,500) – Coded by Kids will use the Call for Ideas grant to support the development and piloting of a data science curriculum for students at two Philly rec centers. The data science curriculum will use publicly available Open Data sets to teach students how to extract, analyze and present data.
  • Destined to Achieve Successful Heights, Inc. ($22,975) – DASH will partner with PSTV (the Education channel for The School District of Philadelphia we told you about last fall) to help students produce, write and record their own original music with songwriters and producers while learning the real world economics of the music industry.
  • Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation ($17,200) – The Free Library will utilize the grant to expand business support to four neighborhood Library locations serving low-income communities. Through its Business Resource and Innovation Center, each location will pilot integrated services including free classes and seed funding.
  • The Hacktory ($24,000) – The Hacktory will host a summer hardware bootcamp for professionals in the region to learn a foundation of technical, fabrication and design skills through hands-on projects and experimentation.
  • SecondMuse ($25,000) – SecondMuse will use their funds to research and better understand the needs and resources available to Philadelphia’s existing hardware startup and manufacturing communities. Based on the findings, SecondMuse plans to co-design an incubator for hardware.

One thing stood out about the grant recipients. The inital outline of the call said the grantees would be tasked with creating a project that would leverage the City’s open data sets to reduce the levels of poverty. Aside from Coded By Kids’ teaching project, the rest of the cohort make no mention of open data.


“The Call for Ideas is traditionally about promoting entrepreneurship,” said the City’s director of entrepreneurship engagement Archna Sahay. “Every year we look for ways to integrate different things that the city itself is doing like the open data initiative. It’s not exclusive to that but raising awareness about it.”

Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

  • So, some non-profits got their pocket lined… under the guise of immigrant entrepreneurship? Just like any initiative in Philly, there are never any measurable results from the grant money given.

    With non-profits, expenses are high and services are usually geared to minimal participation and interaction of the targeted population, Or it’s something menial that is administered for free like pamphlets or referrals. It’s always the same BS “dog and pony” show that non-profits put on to get money.

    In closing, as opposed to finding ways to irritate and segregate ourselves from the current President, we should be working to make him an ally. Especially, when it comes to OUR horrendous education budget, gun violence, excessive tax legislation, and drugs!

  • Aldridkg

    I just have a simple question.
    Who is this article referring to when speaking of immigrants?

    Making immigrants feel safe or “illegal” immigrants feel safe?

    I’m a legal immigrant. I became a citizen 7 yrs ago. Prior to that, I had
    lived in the US for 25 yrs as a legal immigrant. I traveled to different states, went to hospitals, schools, doctors, raised a child as a single parent, worked, purchased a car, a house and went to colllege and not once did I feel threatened or unsafe. So did many in my family and friends who legally immigrated here.

    To reiterate- who exactly is this article referring to?


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