The Endeleo Project and 'Face to Face Germantown' Team Up to Close the Opportunity Gap

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Two local not-for-profits have partnered to provide after school and summer programs in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Targeted Support. Limitless Potential.

We are stepping in to begin filling a void created by the closing of Germantown's two main public schools.

With its two public schools closing, Germantown might feel like a forgotten neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia. Fortunately for its residents, two local organizations are teaming up to make sure that Germantown’s children still have access to education near their homes.

The Endeleo Project, a not-for-profit founded in 2008 by two Temple Law graduates, has partnered with Face to Face Germantown, a not-for-profit that has served Germantown for decades, to develop afterschool and summer programs. The partnership leverages Face to Face’s intimate relationship with the local community and The Endeleo Project’s expertise in education program design and evaluation.

"Our mission is to increase access to education for the populations that need it most and Germantown certainly qualifies, especially now with the school closings," says David Hersh, the Endeleo Project’s co-founder. "Face to Face has been an institution in Germantown and its local knowledge and relationships are critical to the project. We are extremely excited to support its efforts to add additional educational programming to the services it already provides."

While The Endeleo Project has been working with education organizations targeting underserved populations for six years, this is its first partnership with a U.S.-based organization. That’s because the not-for-profit was inspired by a trip Hersh took to Kenya in 2005. “I came across these amazing orphanages that were saving children’s lives, then providing them a first-rate education to brighten their futures. They were too small and remote for anyone in the United States to know they existed, but I was convinced that Americans would be inspired if they knew.” One particular organization in rural southwestern Kenya, VISPA, became the pilot project for the Endeleo Project. Endeleo, pronounced en-duh-lay-o, is the Swahili word for progress.

The Endeleo Project began by raising funds to help VISPA serve more students. Partly because of this support, VISPA now serves 2.5 times as many students as it did in 2008. Endeleo has since expanded both its portfolio of partners and the services it provides. In 2012 it partnered with The Barrio Planta Project (BPP), a Nicaraguan NGO started by Philadelphia native Dyani Makous. BPP provides supplemental schooling to fill gaps in Nicaragua’s inadequate public school system.

With its newest partnership, The Endeleo Project will provide fundraising, program evaluation and program design services to help Face to Face develop its educational programs. These programs represent a relatively new line of programming for Face to Face, which has historically focused on its soup kitchen and social services. With the recent school closings, Face to Face recognizes education as another critical community need. Mary Kay Meeks-Hank, Face to Face’s Executive Director, shares, “We want to make sure our clients’ children don’t become our clients.”

To support this work, The Endeleo Project has launched a crowd-funding campaign through Crowdrise. “Our goal is to raise enough money to cover the full cost of Face to Face’s educational programs,” explains Hersh. Two key elements of the campaign involve partnerships with CGI Racing, the organizers of the Love Half Marathon in Philadelphia on March 30, and Challenge Atlantic City, an ultra-distance triathlon held on June 29. The Endeleo Project recruits teams of runners and triathletes that fundraise through their own networks. Joining their teams, Hersh and co-founder Maureen Holland will both be running the half marathon, while Hersh will compete in the 140.3 mile triathlon. The latter effort has earned The Endeleo Project a generous sponsorship from the Swim Team Store, a national retailer, and it is pursuing more.

“So much of what we see in the media is negative. But in the most disadvantaged places, there are amazing people doing amazing things to make life better for others. We want to start changing the narrative by highlighting these people and supporting their work.” By working with Face to Face to improve educational access for the children of Germantown, The Endeleo Project is off to good start.

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