2018 Grants

In 2018, Bloktoberfest awarded $50,000 in grants to several local charitable causes. Below is a detailed review of the project specifics for a few of those grants:

Aquinas Center

The Aquinas Center is a social justice outreach center in an intercultural, multilingual community of South Philadelphia where many of the neighbors are immigrants and refugees. The community is diverse, young, and growing, and it is also challenged by intersecting issues of poverty, immigration policy, limited educational access, and rapidly rising housing costs. Aquinas Center, with a mission to build unity in diversity, support learning, and inspire thoughtful action, seeks to accompany and empower families through activities that range from English classes to legal services to after school programs emphasizing literacy.

In 2018, Bloktoberfest granted the Aquinas Center $5,000 to expand their Creative Family English classes for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, which aim to: (1) create a safe and welcoming space for families, particularly during a time of exclusionary rhetoric and fear, and (2) foster English language learning within families.

Unlike the Aquinas Center’s other adult ESOL programs that deploy a more traditional classroom format, the Creative Family ESOL program introduces students to English through a variety of creative projects, which are designed to include all members of the family and utilize different parts of the center’s facility. This method of instruction is designed to be accessible for families whose lived experiences are complex and might not be able to attend sequential classes that typically emphasize scaffolded learning.

For example, one week the families learn color vocabulary by cutting out photos from magazines that illustrated these colors. Then, they make collages with these color images, and the small collages are assembled into a large color wheel (see below). The following week, families use these color collages posted on the classroom wall to learn emotion vocabulary prompted by the color words. The class then uses the color and emotion words to tell and write simple stories in the third week. Families could plug into these activities each week or miss a week due to illness or work and not feel like their learning was compromised.

Bloktoberfest’s grant expanded the program, so that the Aquinas Center could include field trips, garden projects, culinary activities, and artistic expression with additional mediums and resources (such as theater, printmaking, etc).  Moreover, the funds assisted with a stipend for a lead volunteer to ensure continuity across the planning and build out time to apply for future funding to ensure sustainability.

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 Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) is a non-profit located in Philadelphia that through advocacy and education, leads the movement in making bicycling a safe and fun way for anyone to get around Greater Philadelphia.  Since 1972, the Coalition has partnered with community, governmental, public and private sectors in order to effect change that makes streets safer for everyone. Such initiatives include: advocating for and implementing 200 miles of bike lanes, inspiring the Circuit Trail Network and bringing bike share to Philadelphia.

In 2018, Bloktoberfest granted the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia $10,000 to found an Education Center in the Fairmount Park section of the city.  Located on Lemon Hill, the Center’s intended purpose is to serve as a community cycling space for Bicycle Coalition programs, members, and friends. The project has been in the works for a number of years.  However, Bloktoberfest’s funding helped make this dream a reality.

The Bicycle Coalition commemorated this milestone on Saturday, April 13th, 2019 with their Grand Opening Celebration.  The event was a huge success, bringing together over 200 youth athletes, parents, coaches, Bicycle Coalition members, donors, and community members!

In addition to cutting the ribbon on the Education Center, BCGP also hosted the Bicycle Coalition Youth Cyclings first race of the Spring Season.  Over 100 BCGP Youth Cycling Athletes raced in teams from their school to the Education Center in time for the ribbon cutting, hitting a number of checkpoints on the way.  There, attendees celebrated with opening remarks from youth leaders, board members, and staff before retiring to lunch, games, music, and awards for the youth races. It was an incredible day of a community relishing in the joy of a hard-earned accomplishment, and the Bicycle Coalition and its membership look forward to many years continuing to celebrate the legacy of building community through cycling in Philadelphia!

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South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA)

The South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) is a non-profit civic group located in the South of South section of the city dedicated to community and economic development between South St, Broad St, Washington Ave and the Schuylkill River.

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SOSNA is a long time partner and grant recipient of Bloktoberfest, and in 2018, Bloktoberfest awarded $4,000 to SOSNA to support one aspect of their extensive Neighborhood Walkability Plan.  With the help of the City of Philadelphia Streets Department, SOSNA plans to: (1) foster a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment by creating safe pathways to schools, (2) educate citizens about healthy streetscape design, and (3) create city-wide awareness of innovative traffic calming measures.

Specifically, this project encompasses improving the safety of four intersections at the two local public elementary schools, E.M. Stanton and Chester Arthur in the South of South neighborhood through a process called “daylighting.”  Daylighting entails installing 20-foot parking restrictions near these intersections with bulb-outs (see picture below) that will keep cars away from the crosswalks and act as a visual cue to motorists to reduce speed. Moreover, these bulb outs improve the visibility of pedestrians by reducing crosswalk length.

 These four intersections will ensure the safety of everyone who attends Chester Arthur and Stanton Elementary Schools as well as anyone who visits the playgrounds on the school properties, which are now lovely, well-used community spaces. The expectation, as confirmed by the Streets Department, is that this project will be a template for other neighborhoods to implement, encouraging community placemaking as well as raising awareness of traffic calming measures to increase walkability as well as neighborhood safety.

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Stanton Community Partners

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The Stanton Community Partners provide independent financial support to the E.M. Stanton Public School at 17th and Montrose and mobilize broad community support for the school and for public education in the school’s neighborhood.

Stanton Community Partners is also a long time partner and grant recipient of Bloktoberfest, and in 2018, Bloktoberfest awarded Stanton Community Partners $7,500 to install (3) solar-powered lights in the school yard, which The Trust for Public Land recently transformed from an asphalt lot to a green space (see below).

These solar panels will light the walkways, provide a sense of security, and provide expanded hours of use for the community.  Maximizing use of the schoolyard to allow for early morning and evening use benefits the entire neighborhood by improving the quality of life for students, increasing community green space, and providing a hub for neighborhood recreation.

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