Centennial Parkside CDC Awarded $200,000 to Advance its Solar Energy Initiatives

Philadelphia, PA (December 18, 2018) –

Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of tax credits to advance the Centennial Parkside CDC’s solar energy initiatives through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). This is part of nearly $18 million in tax credits to support 136
community revitalization projects across the commonwealth.
Spark Therapeutics, as the corporate sponsor and beneficiary of the tax credits, is contributing $200,000 toward the Centennial Parkside CDC. The funding will help deploy residential solar energy to low-income families and will lower their energy bills.

The solar initiative will be implemented in partnership with the Philadelphia Energy Authority and their Solarize Philly program. NAP encourages this type of private sector investment into mission-based non-profits to advance projects that will help improve
distressed communities.

“Fostering public-private collaboration and encouraging investment are some of the best ways we can revitalize low-income areas,” Governor Wolf said. “When we lift up our distressed communities, we lift up the entire commonwealth.”

“We thank Spark Therapeutics for their contribution to the CDC. We expect this form of solar energy deployment to become a model for partnerships between CDCs, the residents they serve, and local organizations to achieve meaningful investments in low-income neighborhoods,” said Chris Spahr, the Executive Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC.

About NAP
NAP provides tax credits to businesses that donate capital to support projects that address neighborhood and community problems – particularly in low-income areas that need it
most. This past 2017-18 fiscal year, the Department of Community and Economic Development received more than 190 applications, totaling over $32 million for NAP tax credits Out of that $32 million, DCED was able to award $18 million to those projects that best met the requirement guidelines laid out for NAP.

About Spark Therapeutics
A fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies, Spark Therapeutics challenges the inevitability of genetic diseases, including blindness, hemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Spark Therapeutics is a
diverse, experienced team united in its goal to break down barriers for people and families affected by genetic diseases.

About Centennial Parkside CDC
The Centennial Parkside CDC is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization located in the East Parkside neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Its mission is to preserve, promote and revitalize East Parkside through partnerships with businesses and institutions and programs that engage residents, increase opportunity, and grow a diverse, thriving


Indego Bike Profile: Michael Burch

Meet Michael Burch, publisher of the Parkside Journal andlongtime employee of the Franklin Institute. For the last several issues the Parkside Journal has profiled an Indego Bike user. This month we profile Michael. Doing an Indego Bike profile on Mike is easy for he is a long time bike enthusiast and he often rides his bike to work in center city.

Mike has been riding his bike through his neighborhood of Parkside for many years. In talking to him I learned that he was very pleased to see the bike stations come into his neighborhood of Parkside.

Mike says ” In this area, I think bikes are the perfect way to get around.” He goes on, “if you notice the traffic patterns we have more and more traffic coming in and out the area, it’s really congested sometimes. During the summer months, it’s especially bad.

I asked Mike if he has his own bike, why do you use Indego? Michael replied “I don’t always use Indego, I still ride my bike a lot but Indego Bikes are sometimes just more convenient to use. The problem with using your own bike is once you reach your destination you have to find a safe and convenient place to lock your bike, with Indigo you do not have to worry about that.” I asked him what he thought of catching Septa, he replied: “Septa’s a great option, but you often have long waits, I’d rather ride a bike. The Indego bikes are well built and maintained and the bike stations are very convenient and easy to use. There’s a Bike station right next to my job.”

Eastern State Penitentiary Kicks Off Holiday Season with Toy Drive Benefiting Children with Incarcerated Parents

Eastern State Penitentiary celebrates this holiday season with a toy drive benefiting local children whose parents are incarcerated. From November 30 through December 21, anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy or children’s book at the historic site will be granted “Buy One, Get One Free” tour admission. One in 28 American children has a parent behind bars. In Pennsylvania alone, there are approximately 81,096 children with a parent incarcerated in a Pennsylvania state prison. How can we come together as a community to support families experiencing incarceration during the holidays?

Eastern State Penitentiary partners with Institute for Community Justice, Why Not Prosper, the Center for Returning Citizens, and Ardella’s House to collect gifts for local children with incarcerated parents. From November 30 through December 21, any Eastern State visitor who donates a new toy or children’s book, in its original packaging (but please no gift wrap), will be granted a second admission free of charge.

Visitors may drop off donations even if they are not planning to take a tour. Items can also be purchased online and shipped directly to the penitentiary:

ATTN: Toy Drive

Eastern State Penitentiary

2027 Fairmount Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19130


New Innovations Happening At The Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum is the keeper of many
Philadelphia treasures and one of them dates back more
than 100 years. Its the model of the 1876 Centennial
Exposition that was held here in Philadelphia in the
summer of that year. The model which is an amazing
representation of the event is 20 by 30 feet with
buildings, lakes, fountains trees, and even an old style
monorail. It is a great representation of what was once

The staff at Please Touch now have a plan to reimage the
1876 model for children of today in their permanent
gallery centennial innovations. This will be a multimedia
interactive where children can become immersed in the
centennial. model. Using state of the art digital means
students can fly through the model and visit the
fairgrounds. After all the prototyping is done students
will be meet the people and see the sights and inventions
that were first introduced to the world here in

Visitors will also get the opportunity to learn how to
develop a healthy community using similar multimedia
devices. Exhibit scheduled to open in late 2019

A Season for Giving by Jasmine Bullock

The holiday season is always an exciting time of year. Families and friends often fellowship and exchange gifts. It is also a time for giving and the West Philadelphia area is abundant with opportunities to give to people in need, of all ages. Community Coordinator, Pamela Evans has made it her mission to provide opportunities for students and families in need. Ms. Evans spent fifteen years serving the students and families of Discovery Charter School. Within the last year, she transitioned to Alain Locke Elementary, a Community School in West Philadelphia, where she has instituted several programs to service the families throughout the area.

The Locke school and Pam Evans have initiated a “Community Closet.” This space is open for donation of clothing and hygiene supplies for people of all ages. The donations of clothing, toys, baby supplies, and bath supplies are open to all but specifically those who reside in the West Park High Rise apartments and shelters. The Locke School is continuously open taking in tax deductible donations. They are especially in need of donations of diapers children’s clothing, and clothing adults can wear for job interviews. They are also looking for school uniforms and sweat pants to help discourage student absences due to lack of appropriate clothing.

This particular community closet is special because of the personal attention “shoppers” get when looking for items. The school has acquired a volunteer to work as a shopping attendant. This individual not only sorts and maintains the items donated to the closet, he also works with individuals to choose items to best fit their needs. The personal attention allows those in need to feel special and guarantees that they receive the right items.

Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday season, Ms. Evans has several missions planned. With the help of local organizations and businesses such as Westside Church and the People’s Emergency Center, Ms. Evans was able to organize the donation of approximately 45 Turkeys to families for their Thanksgiving feasts. Ms. Evans is proud that Lavish Restaurant at 4308 Lancaster Avenue will provide dinner on Thanksgiving for 300 people free of charge.

Ms. Evans also arranged for three students at the Locke School to have a dinner at Lavish Restaurant with their families. The students will be chosen through raffle based on their attendance and timeless to school throughout the month of November.

Another initiative that is thriving is the Gifts of Warmth Drive. This project looks to collect socks, hats, gloves and scarves for children in the area. Ms. Evans has partnered with local hair salons and barber shops on Lancaster Avenue to host donation boxes for their clients and members of the community to drop off donations.

The Gifts of Warmth initiative goes beyond the doors of the Locke School. Each year, the Please Touch museum collects coats for children in need. They send all of their donations to the Second Antioch Baptist Church. Rev. Dr. Joe Nock and his leadership team distribute the gifts of coats to not only members of the church who are in need but also to community members throughout Parkside. While winter is often thought of as a season for giving, donations to many of these initiatives can be given throughout the year. Sweater, scarf, hat, glove and sock donations can be left at the Please Touch Museum from November 24th through December 8th. All donations to the Locke School for the Community Closet can left in the main office of Alain Locke School, 4550 Haverford Avenue, from 8am to 3pm weekdays.

Remember, the holiday season is a time for fun and family but also a time to think about giving to families.

Food Cupboards in the Parkside Area

325 North 39th Street
Saturdays; 10:30am – 1:30pm

Church of New Hope and Faith
662 N. 39th Street
Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 9:30am – 3:30pm

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
19 South 19th Street
Mondays; 10am until 150 households are served

Grace Lutheran Church
3529 Haverford Avenue

Mt. Zion United Holy Church
4110 Haverford Avenue
West Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist Church
4527 Haverford Avenue

Dance Logic Program Open at West Park Cultural Center – by Niesha Kennedy

DanceLogic is a unique S.T.E.A.M. program offered by West Park Cultural Center. The program combines dance and computer coding leading to development of original choreography and performance. Teen girls’ ages 13 through 18 years old learn the value of focus, dedication, and teamwork, as well as industry standard computer coding language. This innovative program is designed to educate, inspire and cultivate girls of color to explore the S.T.E.A.M. field: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in a creative, active and exciting environment

The program uses dance to ignite an interest in STEAM, now and in the future. Shanel Edwards, co-instructor of dancelogic, says danceLogic is a space where creativity lives in arts and science, here young girls have infinite possibilities” . During the dance class, led by instructors Shanel Edwards of D2D The Company and Annie Fortenberry, a performer with Ballet 180, the girls learn dance skills and movement techniques. When the girls progress to creating their own choreography, they use coding as a reference. The dance portion of the class is followed by an hour of learning industry standard coding language under the direction of Coding instructor Franklyn Athias, Senior Vice President Network and Communications Engineering at Comcast.

Dancing and coding have similar language involving repetition, direction, and particular combinations.

“I’m helping the kids see that someone, just like them, was able to use Science and Technology to find a very successful career. The combination of dance and logic have good synergies. Learning something like dance requires practice, just like coding”, explains Franklyn Athias. He continues to say “Yes, the dance is more physical, but it requires the students to try, fail, and try again. Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is really the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you become good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”

Annie Fortenberry adds “My favorite thing about the program is that the students can explore leadership roles. By building their own choreography and supporting each other in coding class, they navigate creating and sharing those creations, as well as resolving conflict to make one cohesive dance. There’s a lot of beauty and bravery in that process.”

The very first session of danceLogic culminated with a special performance at the 11th Annual West Park Arts Festival in June of 2018. The girls performed choreography, showcased what they learned and shared how it has impacted their lives. They committed to continuing their coding education over the summer and into the new school year. danceLogic is offered in two sessions, fall and winter/spring on Saturdays from 12:00pm –2:30pm.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.westparkcultural.org/dancelogic 


Nine Things To Look For In Parkside In 2019 – by Manuel McDonnell Smith

In 2018 – Parkside, Mantua, and Belmont overflowed with openings and ribbon cuttings as many long-promised development projects came to fruition. We celebrated the completion of renewed park spaces, play areas, and pedestrian improvements brought by the Parkside Edge project. The excitement over the new living and retail spaces at Centennial Village is still evident by a rental waiting list that is said to be years-long, showing that quality, affordable housing in our area remains a strong desire from residents. And the world watched as a new mural of hometown boy gone global, Will Smith, was painted on Girard Avenue. As much as we’re excited for what’s to come in 2019 with our list of nine projects below – the editorial team of The Parkside Journal would love to see more private and institutional investment begin to flow into our neighborhoods.

Much of the development work that is scheduled is funded by government entities, these are deserved dollars which are finally flowing to our areas after years of neglect. These projects will do much to improve our communities, but private dollars are the ones that will make the most impact, especially on our inside blocks where most residents live. What we hope for is a balance of development and progress, where developers and residents work together, for an improved quality-of-life for all in our neighborhoods. With a cadre of strong community groups and eager residents willing to partner and talk, here’s another official signal that our neighborhoods are ready for the future.

DaVita Care Center– construction underway – Construction is nearly complete on a new medical use facility in the 4900 block of Parkside Avenue at 50th Street. The facility will be leased and managed by Davita, which operates a large network of kidney and general medical care clinics. The opening date for the facility, which will also have its own private 30-space parking lot, is not yet known.

Medicare-Centered Medical Centers – 5050 Parkside Avenue & Parkwest Town Center – A local branch of national health care chain Oak Street Health recently opened at 5050 Parkside Avenue. Services there are aimed at Medicare patients who will have access to transportation to and from the center, individualized treatment plans, longer-than-average appointments and community-centered support that goes beyond symptom treatment according to a press release. “Dedicated Senior Medical Center”, a medical chain with similar goals and focus on Medicare patients also opened this fall inside of the Park West Town Center in the former pet shop location.

Lansdowne & Montgomery Creek Restoration – Fairmount Park – Following up on its successful Centennial Commons project along Parkside Avenue, the Fairmount Park Conservancy is working on restoring the two small creeks that wind their way through the park and horticultural center. Many people noticed the removal of invasive and non-native trees removed from the areas around Lansdowne Glen & Michaux Grove. Pedestrian friendly gates were then installed to keep out deer. In fall 2019, plans call for native species will be planted on the grounds in hopes of increasing plant diversity, improve wildlife habitat, and making the grounds around the Horticulture Center that more beautiful.

Mantua Greenway – Phase I construction scheduled for spring 2020 – Fundraising is still underway to complete a proposed “greenway” that will follow Mantua Avenue and Parrish Street, from the Spring Garden Bridge at 31st Street over to the 40th Street Bridge. The project was inspired by the efforts of Bessie Washington, a lifetime resident who lives on Mantua Avenue who was tired of seeing overgrown weeds along the railroad tracks. A community group meets monthly to work on progress. www.mantuagreenway.org

East Parkside Green Stormwater Project – projects to begin early summer 2019 – The Philadelphia Water Department is working on public outreach on a series of nearly twenty planned green stormwater infrastructure projects scheduled to begin construction in the Parkside neighborhood between 38th and 41st streets by summer 2019. These projects including tree trenches and curb bumpouts are designed to capture rainwater runoff and prevent water overflow into the nearby Schuylkill. Neighbors should expect about a month’s disruption with parking and work crews while construction on each project progresses.

West Philadelphia Community Center – redevelopment plans in progress – This past June, Drexel University announced its purchase of The West Philadelphia Community Center (WPCC), a two-story, 37,000-square-foot facility at 3512 Haverford Avenue in Mantua. Caring People Alliance (CPA) previously owned & operated the space but has announced that they will be relocating to another facility. According to the University, current programs by CPA will continue at the WPCC for another year, while the University works with local residents to determine how the facility can best address community interests in conjunction with its Dornslife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Rebuild Philadelphia – four sites selected in Parkside, Mantua & Fairmount Park – ReBuild is Mayor Jim Kenney’s initiative to invest millions of dollars to improve neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries across the city. Funding for these projects comes directly from the Philadelphia Beverage Tax (a.k.a. “Soda Tax). The city has just begun releasing funds for the projects this year after a legal battle over the tax was upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The four rebuild sites selected in our area include:

  • Carousel House 1701 Belmont Avenue
  • Parkside Fields West Fairmount Park
  • West Mill Creek Playground 5100 Westminster Avenue Miles Mack Playground 732-66 N 36th Street

46th and Market Street Redevelopment: Potential opening: 2019: The latest white-knights of the saga of the redevelopment for the building that was once slated to be the new home of the Police Department is a partnership between development firm Iron SStone and the Public Health Management Corp. (PHMC). Published plans for the site include a federally funded health center that will provide primary care and dental services and a 20- to 30-bed overnight site. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is also said to be planning a children’s mental health services center along with a daycare center possibly operated by the YMCA.

Additional retail construction could also occur along Market and 46th Streets along the site’s perimeter. Plans are still in progress.

News that is from, about, and benefits our Parkside Community in West Philadelphia.