Bookmark and Share

November 30, 2006


PHILADELPHIA, PA --Today, in a beautifully restored auditorium in St. Martin de Porres Catholic School at 23rd and Lehigh in North Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Mayor John F. Street, announced an unprecedented new partnership to install Beacon Programs in St. Martin de Porres and four other Catholic schools across the city. Beacons are community centers located in schools that serve all families living in the same neighborhood. Beacons are a strategy for building supportive communities and academic success for children, youth and families in urban communities. The other Archdiocese schools receiving Beacon Programs are St. Frances de Sales (917 South 47th), Nativity BVM School (2541 East Madison), Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (344 North Felton), and St. Veronica (3521 North 6th). Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will administer the programs. The total number of Beacons citywide now stands at 30.

Cardinal Rigali remarked upon the cooperative venture, "I recognize and appreciate Mayor Street's leadership in reaching out to the Archdiocese to develop the Beacon program in Catholic schools. The Archdiocese fully supports the City of Philadelphia's initiatives to focus resources and programming on violence reduction and youth development by serving children before crises occur in their lives. The mission of Catholic Social Services to address the needs of children, youth and families dates back to the mid-19th century. The work has changed over the years but the commitment remains. "

"This is a great day for hundreds of children and families in these five communities," said Mayor Street. "Beacons have been proven to be effective 'safe havens' for children and adults. They support community safety, while providing educational assistance and enrichment to children and adults alike. The Beacons are a pivotal component of our broader emphasis on prevention programs to reduce the incidence of crime and violence committed by and against young people. I thank Cardinal Rigali for agreeing to this unique partnership for the benefit of the city's most at-risk children and families."

The goals of the City's 30 Beacon Programs are as follows:
Establish "safe havens" for the communities' children, youth and adults;
Support community safety and organization;
Provide educational assistance and enrichment;
Expand youth development and leadership; and
Offer employment and training activities and opportunities for youth and adults.
Beacons are a research-based model first introduced in New York City and subsequently replicated in major cities throughout the nation. Beacons offer a wide array of services and supports for children, youth and adults alike, including:
Academic enrichment, i.e., tutoring, literacy activities, homework support, ESL
Youth leadership i.e., peer mentoring and community service projects
Recreational and cultural arts activities
Job training and preparation
Child care and early enrichment
Parenting classes and peer support groups
Information and referrals, i.e., employment, counseling, health
Community gatherings and cultural events
Medical and mental health services
Basic needs assistance (food, clothing, housing assistance)
Philadelphia Safe and Sound, one of the region's leading child advocacy organizations, has been charged by the City of Philadelphia with serving as an intermediary to support and guide funding and program implementation for Beacon Programs. Safe and Sound manages the programs and provides training, technical assistance and best practice support.

The city funds many faith-based after school programs but the seeds of the City's partnership with the Archdiocese can be traced back to the spring of 2006 when Mayor Street introduced the concept of having a faith-based social service provider that was connected to a school system. Given the network of schools providing Catholic education in Philadelphia, the Archdiocese emerged as a top candidate to administer the five new Beacon Programs.

Philadelphia Safe and Sound led the planning process for identification of zip codes for Beacon location placement and RFP development for the new programs. The following six zip codes were chosen as the targeted areas for new Beacon Programs for FY2007.
19143- Southwest
19134- Bridesburg/Richmond/Kensington
19121- Lower North
19139- West
19140- Upper North
19132- Upper North

These zip codes were chosen because of the high rates of indicators that adversely affect youth well being, including:
New child abuse and neglect cases
Part One Major Crime Arrests, ages 7-23
Juvenile Arrests for drug-related offenses (youth ages 17 and under)
Victims of Homicide, ages 7-24
Gunshot Victims, ages 7-24

Philadelphia Safe and Sound shared this information with Catholic Social Services (CSS), an experienced after school provider. along with information on minimum standards for Beacon facilities and administration. Based on all information provided, CSS identified several locations as potential Beacon sites.

The School Administrators for each of the approved Archdiocese Beacon sites have demonstrated support for the induction of Beacon Centers at their Catholic school.

Each approved site is geographically situated within close proximity to public schools and will serve TANF-eligible students that attend both public and private schools in the targeted neighborhood. These schools have a long history of providing services to the communities for whom they will be providing Beacon Programs. The introduction of Beacons within each community will build on established relationships and create new services to better provide safe havens and quality programming to children, adults and families during out of school time.

Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

Back to Top