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KIND Institute preps for a summer of arts and community in Point Breeze

The KIND Institute -- a young arts and community center in Point Breeze -- isn’t just providing an outlet for arts education when cash-poor schools cut programs, but putting a new lens on arts education itself.

"There’s a lot of misinformation about arts education and its value in society today," says Min Kim, who manages the KIND Institute’s blog and helps out with the nonprofit’s operations. "It’s called a dead end; there’s no way to make money off of it."

But in reality, he insists, there are a lot of strong careers to be had in "the living arts." Towards that end, KIND offers classes targeting kids ages five to twelve (though the model is inclusive) in pursuits ranging from watercolor, sculpture, and graphic design to computer-building, languages, and music. New sessions will kick off this summer.

KIND co-founders Maria Pandolfi (an award-winning educator who’s been teaching art in the School District of Philadelphia for 22 years) and Ronald Kustrup (an internationally exhibiting artist) spearhead the program, which formally launched in August 2013 and now occupies a building at 1242 Point Breeze Avenue. This summer, locals will be able to meet them and learn more about KIND’s professional studios, gallery and classroom spaces: the co-founders will open the doors every weekday from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. July 5 through August 26.

Funding for the space and programs is a currently a mix of donations, grants, space rentals, ticketed events and commissions on resident artists' sales through the gallery. KIND holds monthly exhibitions and music performances with themes like women’s empowerment, sustainable living and compassion for animals.

Coming soon is a re-launch of the KIND website, integrating a platform for resident artists’ work and the organization’s blog, which will continue to feature artist profiles.

"Our focus here is the local community and helping local artists showcase their work," says Kim. "When you buy the art it becomes more than just a piece to hang on your wall -- you get a real story of the person who crafted it."

So why Point Breeze?

"We see it as representational of a lot of neighborhoods in Philadelphia right now," he explains. "It’s changing, there’s a lot of growth, and there are a lot of people who are scared of changes that are coming to Point Breeze. [The KIND mission is] to make people understand that we are a community regardless of how the community is shifting, and really just make sure we’re keeping people unified."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Min Kim, KIND Institute 


Philadelphia Public History Truck brings 'a houseless museum' to Asian Arts Initiative

How do you get local history out of the museum and into the neighborhood? For about three years, Erin Bernard -- founder of the Philadelphia Public History Truck (PPHT) -- has been exploring the answers: "I had this intention to create projects with people in Philadelphia neighborhoods, as opposed to for them at a museum," she says. 

A traveling oral history and research repository, block party instigator, and capsule of local culture, PPHT and its newest off-road installation are coming soon to the Pearl Street storefront at Asian Arts Initiative (our former On the Ground Home). 

The Temple grad first got the idea for PPHT -- which Bernard calls a culmination of her degrees in journalism and history, her work in nonprofit public relations, and a lot of strolling past food trucks -- back in spring 2013. She approached community groups with her plan. The East Kensington Neighbors Association (EKNA) proved an enthusiastic early partner; former EKNA president Jeff Carpineta even donated a truck.

PPHT is now on the cusp of completing its third year-long neighborhood cycle -- Kensington, then North Philadelphia, and most recently Chinatown North/Callowhill. Its next project in the Fairhill neighborhood (in partnership with Taller Puertorriqueño) is now getting started.

Each of the truck’s "exhibit cycles" has nine parts, beginning with a neighborhood association partnership, growing into oral history interviews, a storytelling and "neighborhood object"-themed block party, archival research, community art happenings, a temporary exhibit in a neighborhood building, and then a compression of the exhibit back into the truck, to bring the stories to other neighborhoods.

At Asian Arts June 3 through 25, PPHT’s will present, "A Houseless Museum: Home and Displacement Around the Vine Street Expressway." Bernard volunteered at the nearby Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and part of the History Truck’s mission in that neighborhood became researching how to best serve "a transient community."

The exhibit, which features stories from the neighborhood’s homeless community, will have a cabinet with supplies like socks, t-shirts and dry shampoo for those who need them. There will also be a TV installation playing the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation-provided documentary "Save Chinatown," detailing the demolition wrought by construction of the Vine Street Expressway. There will be artwork by Pew fellow and Chinatown North resident Leroy Johnson, and "archival reproductions and text, and space for people to explore actual historical documents," says Bernard.

The show also incorporates work from Bernard’s graduate students in the Museum Exhibition Planning and Design program at University of the Arts, as well as local high school students they mentored.

"I’ve found working in this neighborhood extremely difficult, compared to the work in Kensington and North Philadelphia," explains Bernard of her stint in Callowhill/Chinatown North. "It’s a very transitional community…That’s part of the story."

Not all of the neighborhood’s community groups agree on the way forward when it comes to development, including projects like the Reading Viaduct rail park project.

"There are a lot of serious issues of contention as to who owns the space," she explains. "I think that’s part of the reason it’s been challenging to have a history truck here, but it’s always good to learn something new."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Erin Bernard, the Philadelphia Public History Truck


Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.
 

Long-horizon tech startups get a much-needed boost

Entrepreneurs interested in "long -horizon" technologies -- those that require significant development and/or regulatory approvals in sectors such as healthcare, materials or energy -- have a new option for obtaining funding, expertise and other resources.
 
The University City Science Center's Phase 1 Ventures Program (P1V)  has emerged from stealth mode to widen its net and offer support to startups so new they might not even yet have names.
 
"Phase 1 Ventures serves the space in between our QED program (which provides resources to promising projects that are being developed within the academic setting) and our Port Business Incubators (which provide resources to startup companies that have already raised financing)," explains Science Center spokesperson Kristen Fitch. "P1V helps to 'road test' commercially relevant technologies outside the academic setting and to give them a chance to build management and raise funding."
 
Since P1V was soft-launched as a pilot in mid-2015, the program has supported these ventures, with several more expected to begin this year.
 
  • BioSignal Analytics uses machine-learning techniques to interpret medical signals such as electrical brain signals. The technology is from Temple University
  • LytPhage is developing a biotechnology that it hopes will replace chemical antibiotics in the fight against resistant bacteria. The technology is also from Temple.
  • PolyCore Therapeutics is developing a new drug to manage the side effects of treating Parkinson's and other neurological diseases. The technology is from Drexel University and Rutgers University. 
  • SDMI Inc., a startup formed by Dr. Chao Zhou from Lehigh University and Robert Michel, is developing a technology that will improve the speed and quality of eye exams.
  • A team including Dr. Oscar Perez from Temple University and Science Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence Matt Handel is working on a treatment for psoriasis.
  • A team including Dr. Joseph Freeman from Rutgers University and Science Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence Russell Secter is working on a technology for improving bone healing. 
  • A team including Drs. Michael Zdilla and Stephanie Wunder from Temple University and Science Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence Grant Chapman is working on a technology to improve the performance of lithium ion batteries.
P1V initially provides up to $25,000 and a semi-customized package of resources including facilities, funding, management expertise, and professional services in areas such as intellectual property, regulations, reimbursement, market evaluation, grant preparation and financial management.
 
Once successful in securing non-dilutive financing (capital that does not affect its ownership), participants become eligible for Phase 1 financing from P1V -- typically $150,000. Phase 2, typically $300,000, will be available to teams that subsequently secure follow-on financing.
 
According to Fitch, PolyCore has become the first company to transition to Phase 1 and will receive up to $250,000 to further its development of pharmaceutical treatment for Parkinson’s symptoms. The company secured funding for its project -- through its collaboration with Drexel University -- from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
 
"There are plenty of options for the growing software and digital sector, but not enough opportunities for long-horizon technologies," said Science Center President Steven Tang in a statement. "These are the technologies that have historically been the cornerstone of our region’s economy."

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.
 

On the Ground: What does a longtime local print paper mean to Southwest Philadelphia?

Soon Flying Kite will be landing in the Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Kingsessing for our On the Ground program, and we’re starting things off by connecting with a publication that’s been on the ground there for a long time: since 1946, to be exact.

The Southwest Globe Times was the inaugural publication of Joseph Bartash's Bartash Printing (a company legacy that continues in Southwest Philly today thanks to Bartash’s son-in-law Sidney Simon and Simon’s son Michael).

From the beginning, the Globe Times focused determinedly on disseminating good news throughout the community. It hit a peak circulation of about 30,000 homes in the 1950s. Bartash, who went on to publish several other community papers, retained the Globe Times for the longest. He ceased publishing it in 2002 and died in 2007 at the age of 93.

"There was a two-year hiatus while various people in the community tried to start it up again," says Ted Behr, a Southwest Community Development Corporation volunteer who manages the Globe Times’s new incarnation. In 2004, Bartash agreed to sell the name to the CDC on the merits of "their unique characteristics as a nonprofit working within the community for its general well-being."

The paper re-appeared in 2005; to this day, Bartash is listed on the masthead as publisher emeritus. The Globe comes out in print and online on the first and third Friday of every month.

"We characterize ourselves as the good news newspaper because we try to only publish the positive activities of people," explains Behr. Southwest Philly "has more than its share of negative [news]. We counterbalance that with stories about people and groups doing things to improve the quality of life here."

Behr is a North Jersey native who moved to Wayne in 1971 after an international career in the pharmaceutical business that also included 16 years of teaching business courses at Eastern University and Beijing University.

He’s a member of Wayne Presbyterian Church and its non-profit community service arm CityLights, which partners with groups in Southwest Philadelphia, and that’s how he began working with Southwest CDC.

"I see my work with the paper as a calling," he says. Globe Times stories typically focus on figures like effective block captains, "outstanding teachers," and neighborhood leaders.

Block captains are integral to the paper’s circulation: For the last four years, they’ve volunteered for door-to-door delivery of about half the paper’s print copies. Other copies are picked up by the public at locations like the ShopRite grocery store in Eastwick -- it's the paper’s largest distribution point, with over 700 copies departing the rack there.

Even in 2016, a hyperlocal print paper is important, argues Behr. When the newspaper re-launched a decade ago, fewer than 15 percent of Southwest Philly homes had internet access. Today, he estimates that percentage has doubled, but there’s still a massive digital divide for many residents.

Southwest CDC is currently working with the 12th Police District and the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee to increase circulation and delivery of the paper. The publication is partly supported by ads from local businesses, but still operates at a loss of about 20 percent a year, a gap that donors at Wayne Presbyterian fill.

"We like to feel that our readers take ownership of ideas behind the paper," says Behr. "There are good people working in Southwest Philadelphia to make the community better. Dedicated public servants; dedicated people from block to block. We feel that’s what life is all about… We believe that our young people and our elderly people need a positive vision for the future."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Ted Behr, the Southwest Globe Times


Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful litter convenings continue to draw a crowd

Late last year, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) launched a series of what Executive Director Michelle Feldman calls "Litter Convenings." They offer a platform for city agencies and residents to come together to tackle the problems of trash and littering in integrated and transparent ways.

The first session took place in October 2015; consortium members included the Commerce Department, the Streets Department, the Philadelphia Association of CDCs and the Philly chapter of the Local Initiative Support Coalition (LISC). There was a follow-up session in January, and on May 11, KPB organized a panel discussion featuring leaders from the Streets Department’s Philly SWEEP, the City’s Community Life Improvement Programs (CLIP), the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) and Philly 311.

Attendees represented groups and agencies such as the Office of Sustainability, the Village of Arts and Humanities, the Friends of Pennypack Park, the Commerce Department, South of South Neighborhood Association, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), LISC, the North 22nd Street Business Association, and Councilman William Greenlee’s office. Feldman framed the discussion as a chance to be "proactive rather than reactive" to issues of illegal dumping and trash in Philly.

The lively conversation on the 16th floor of the Municipal Services Building included an update on the City’s growing success in removing unlicensed clothing donation bins, which often become a magnet for illegal dumping. These bins can gain permits for placement on commercially zoned private property, but not on public right-of-ways like sidewalks and street corners, where they routinely reside. After a call to 311, L&I may note and tag the offending bins, but it’s the Streets Department that performs the removal.

Participants also discussed efforts to make Philly 311 -- the city’s non-emergency reporting line for civic issues like graffiti, overgrown vacant lots, illegal dumping and litter -- more accessible to the public through a mobile application and better integration of services with agencies who handle 311 tips.

Misunderstandings can arise when Philly 311 reports a case as closed when the issue has not visibly been resolved. This is because the agency can’t report publicly on outcomes like fines, and other agencies (from PWD to the Streets Department) open their own case file on the issue once they receive it, separate from the Philly 311 report.

Updates from CLIP included graffiti removal efforts and a community service program that employs non-violent ex-offenders on city cleanups. PMBC reported on its active work with up to 800 block captains from across the city. The organization provides supplies for cleanups and sponsors clean block contests with prizes ranging from $300 to $1,000 dollars to be used for further beautification of the block.

In KPB news, applications for the organization’s 2016 microgrants are due on May 27; they include two $,1500 grants and two $1,000 grants (guidelines available here). And on June 22, KPB will team with Young Involved Philadelphia for a Cleaning + Greening 101 panel at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Litter Convening speakers

UE Lifesciences targets breast cancer diagnosis in the developing world

With limited access to screening, staggeringly few breast cancer patients in developing countries are diagnosed at the early stages of the disease, when it is most curable.
 
UE Lifesciences, a University City Science Center company, is working to meet that challenge with a low-cost, portable breast exam device.
 
Mihir Shah founded UELS in 2009 after several friends and family members were diagnosed with breast cancer. In April 2015, the FDA cleared the iBreastExam, a hand-held device that is painless, radiation-free and delivers accurate results in less than five minutes for less than $2 per exam. A few months later, UELS raised $3 million in equity funding. Now the company is using the capital to fabricate the device in Mumbai and scale it across India. Shah hopes to reach one million women there by the end of the year, though "even that would be a drop in the bucket," he says.
 
"iBreastExam is a game-changing technological breakthrough for countries and regions with rising breast cancer levels, most cases detected at late stages, and limited to no access to early detection for most women," explains the company on its website. "iBreastExam harnesses the power of innovative sensor technology, software computing and smartphone revolution, such that a doctor or any health-worker can offer objective and effective breast examinations, with ease and comfort."
 
The portable device is UELS's second invention. Its NoTouch Breast Scan, cleared by the FDA in 2012, is a contact-less and radiation-free screening tool, targeted at certain categories of women, including those at high risk for breast cancer.
 
Science Center spokeswoman Kristen Fitch calls UELS a poster child for the campus. Its core sensor technology was invented at Drexel University. The Science Center supported early prototyping through its QED program. UELS is also a graduate of the Center’s Digital Health Accelerator and continues to work out of the Center.

"They've been very flexible with the use of space, subsidized rent and great introductions to people," enthuses Shah.
 
Besides the equity funding, Shah reports that UELS has raised $1 million-plus in grant funding and $1.5 million in revenue.

"We are just getting started," he says. "We are looking to broaden our innovation portfolio and tap the huge unmet need for highly prevalent cancers in underserved markets. UELS is now a 30-person organization spread over two countries and growing fast."
 
WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.
 

Worried about lead? The Academy of Natural Sciences asks 'What's in Our Water?'

Last week, the Academy of Natural Sciences hosted "What’s in Our Water?," a free town square discussion and expert Q&A for Philadelphians wondering about the quality of their drinking water after harmful lead levels in Newark, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan made headlines.

David Velinsky, Academy vice president of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research, led the presentation. He introduced Debra McCarty, commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department; Lynn Thorp, the national campaigns director for Clean Water Action; and Dr. Jerry Fagliano, chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health.

Velinsky touched on the source of Philly’s drinking water: the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, and the history of human use of lead in urban and residential infrastructure and industrial products, from Roman aqueducts to batteries to lead paint and leaded gasoline.

In the 1970s, lead in paint and gasoline accounted for relatively high blood lead levels in the first ever large-scale American survey. According to Fagliano, back then, the average child had a blood lead level of 15 micrograms per deciliter. Now, it’s less than two micrograms per deciliter, thanks to sweeping federal legislation to keep lead out of our homes and fuel.

"Lead is a potent neurotoxin," especially for young people, he explained.

"Water is not the primary source of lead for children," added McCarty: It’s dust and paint from houses built before 1978. There is no lead in any of Philly’s 3,200 miles of water mains. But on the private side, PWD estimates that about 10 percent of Philly homes have lead service lines from the water main to the house. This is likely only in unrenovated homes built before 1950. These homes may also have lead in old plumbing pipes, soldering or fixtures.

PWD works with any concerned client to test, monitor and offer affordable fixes for elevated lead levels that come from private plumbing.

McCarty said those worried about lead in their pipes can simply make sure to run the tap for a few minutes before drinking the water, which flushes out any liquid that might have been sitting in the plumbing lines for more than a few hours. The City also has a program offering zero-interest loans to customers who want to replace private-property lead pipes. PWD has a dedicated webpage for lead inquiries as well as a phone hotline: 215-685-6300.

"Flint is an incredible tragedy in many, many ways," said McCarty as she explained why the same scenario will never happen in Philly. For example, Flint officials changed the source of the water itself, with none of the anti-corrosion treatments residential pipes in Philly have, and did not comply with EPA standards for sampling and reporting lead and copper levels.

"Treatment decisions are always made on the best science," she insisted.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: David Velinsky, the Academy of Natural Sciences; Debra McCarty, the Philadelphia Water Department

UPenn's BioCellection may hold the key to plastics pollution worldwide

As high school seniors in their hometown of Vancouver, Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao had some big questions -- and answers -- for a planet that produces enough plastic every year to circle itself in Saran wrap four times over.

Yao recently graduated from the University of Toronto and Wang is finishing her senior year at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Biology. Together they founded BioCellection. Now their team (which also includes Alexander Simafranca, Eric Friedman and Daniel Chapman) is the first undergraduate team ever to take the $30,000 grand prize at Wharton’s annual Business Plan Competition. And that's only the beginning: They also took home the Wharton Social Impact Prize, the Gloekner Undergraduate Award, the Michelson People’s Choice Award and the Committee Award for Most "Wow Factor." No other single team has ever taken five prizes in the competition.

Wang and Yao began studying riverside soil samples back in high school. They wanted to find out what the ecosystem itself might be doing to survive pollution from plastics. Traditional plastic products are made from fossil fuels, which come from carbon. Humans run on carbon, too -- our source is glucose.

"Could there be bacteria that have evolved with plastic chemicals as their carbon source?" Wang recalls wondering. "The answer is yes…Nature is very much evolving to recover itself. There is a solution in this biology, it just needs to be tapped into. Potentially this could be a large-scale commercial technology used to clean our drinking water."

Wang and Yao focused on how bacteria could be harnessed to break down potentially carcinogenic components of some plastics (like phthalates) that aren’t otherwise biodegradable. Their work won them the 2012 National Commercialization Award at Canada’s Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge and led to a popular 2013 TED talk.

In the labs at Penn, that work grew into BioCellection.

"Instead of tackling derivatives or additives in plastic, we’re [now] tackling the polymer of the plastic itself," explains Wang. "What if we can take this really big problem of the polymer, and try to solve it on a modular basis?"

BioCellection developed a way to engineer bacteria that produce an enzyme which, when combined with problem plastics in a proprietary portable chemical process, can convert that plastic into water and carbon dioxide. This patent-pending technology is still about two years away from the field, but its future application in plastic remediation at landfills, industrial sites, oceans and beaches could be tremendous, with annual revenue projected to reach $100 million by 2020.

A little further down the road in their business model, BioCellection hopes to launch a centralized processing plant that will use this enzyme to convert discarded plastics into a bio-surfactant necessary for textile manufacturing. With the help of collaborator Parley for the Oceans -- which is helping BioCellection connect to brands like Adidas that want to incorporate recycled plastic into their products -- the company hopes to sell this "upcycled" surfactant at $300/kg. It’s an estimated $42 billion market.

The issue of used plastics is a global problem: Because current recycling methods don’t generate enough revenue, over 90 percent of our cast-off plastics (even those going for recycling) end up in landfills, or incinerated, which compounds pollution. 

According to the company, "We can’t expect to change consumer habits overnight or integrate new materials immediately. It’s time to tackle the plastic pollution that currently exists, and that we’re continuing to produce, to save marine wildlife, keep the planet’s food chain intact, and protect human health."

Besides the $54,000 in total prize money from Wharton, BioCellection has earned $90,000 in grants and $240,000 in investment. The company is relocating to the San Jose BioCube in June 2016 for further development.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Miranda Wang, BioCellection 

Keystone Edge is back!

In August, our sister publication Keystone Edge -- dedicated to covering what's next and best in Pennsylvania -- went on hiatus. The goal was to retool and relaunch, and we're happy to announce that the day has arrived. Lee Stabert, editor of Flying Kite, remains at the helm of both magazines. Check out her note below and click here to subscribe.

Pennsylvania is home to nearly 13 million residents across nearly 50,000 square miles, 67 counties, and countless communities. But if the writers, publishers, and partners at Keystone Edge have learned one thing covering this vast and diverse place since 2008, it’s that the small stuff makes the biggest difference. Stories about unique towns, passionate educators, creative scientists, engaged community groups and indefatigable entrepreneurs have been enjoyed and shared by more than 1,000,000 readers and counting.

But we can always do more. In the past few months, Keystone Edge has reinvented itself to better cover the things that make PA a great place to live and work: from the successful startup founder taking time to mentor the next generation, to the fledgling brewery transforming a small town’s main street, to the river that used to carry the instruments of industry now carrying kayakers and daytrippers.

We’ve got a new look and a new publishing schedule. In our (now) monthly magazine, you’ll find features on higher ed, urban rebirth, growing companies, travel destinations, products made in PA — from wine to medical devices to robots — cozy hamlets and evolving cities. You’ll also see a news section covering events, awards, local leaders and intriguing inventions.
Overall, Keystone Edge aims to offer an in-depth look at the ways the state is moving into the future.

Click here to meet the team.

Lee Stabert
Editor in Chief
Keystone Edge
 

Weckerly's Ice Cream to open its first retail location in Fishtown


Philly ice cream connoisseurs have something to look forward to. Currently, if you want some top-rated Weckerly’s Ice Cream, you have to buy it by the pint (or sandwich) at a local cafe, food retailer or farmers' market, but now the company is gearing up to open its very own brick-and-mortar location on a bustling stretch of Girard Avenue in Fishtown.

Fronted by husband-and-wife team Jen and Andy Satinsky, Weckerly’s launched in late 2012 in West Philly’s Spruce Hill neighborhood. In 2014, the micro-creamery moved to Port Richmond’s Globe Dye Works.

"At that time, we really did want to open a retail shop eventually in West Philadelphia," says Andy. But the search proved difficult, so they broadened the hunt. With some help from New Kensington Community Development Corporation, they discovered a 350-square-foot shop at 9 West Girard Avenue, and knew it was the perfect place (they’ll still make their ice cream at Globe Dye Works).

"We definitely wanted a neighborhood," says Andy. "We wanted to be amongst families and homeowners, and people who engage in activities in their neighborhood."

Jen is an experienced pastry chef (her maiden name, Weckerle, inspired the company's moniker). A former bicycle mechanic, Andy eventually left his job to focus on the business full-time.

"[Jen] is the reason we make ice cream and have an ice cream company," he insists. "She’s the heartbeat of everything."

The company is known for unusual flavors such as buckwheat sour cherry and lemon verbena black raspberry, but "we do embrace the classics," he adds. "There’s a place for a vanilla ice cream made with grass-fed milk and cream and good-quality vanilla bean…that tastes like ice cream would have tasted 50 years ago."

Weckerly’s more adventurous combinations are inspired by the company’s mission to source seasonal ingredients from local farms. This is partly why the Satinskys need to grow their business with a retail location, rather than increasing wholesale production. With their own shop, they can stick with their model and showcase small batches of exclusive flavors -- perhaps only five gallons at a time.  

"There are aspects to the way we operate that don’t lend themselves well to a rapidly growing wholesale business," explains Andy, noting the difficulty of scaling up while still working exclusively with local farms.

The new Girard Avenue shop will be open year-round seven days a week, offering a selection of signature ice cream sandwiches and hand-dipped cups and cones, with six rotating ice cream flavors and two sorbets.

They couple isn't sure of an opening date yet, but hope to launch by late summer or early fall. Fans can follow along for the latest @Weckerlys on Twitter and Instagram, and on Facebook.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Andy Satinsky, Weckerly’s 

Jewelry company Riot Alliance builds a business plan designed to give back


As the Master of Social Work (MSW) supervisor at the University of Pennsylvania's Child Advocacy Clinic, Sara Schwartz quickly realized that the toughest dollars for hard-working social justice nonprofits to raise are general operating funds. She decided to combine her after-hours passion for jewelry-making with a business plan tailored to give back.

Schwartz founded Riot Alliance in early 2014, making custom jewelry and teaching community jewelry-making workshops. The company partners with a different nonprofit every quarter, donating 10 percent of sales towards the organization's operational costs, while also using online platforms and social media to promote the nonprofit and its events.

"After I got my MSW, I started thinking more seriously about starting an independent artist business that was connected to social justice from its inception," says Schwartz. She focuses on nonprofits working in areas such as immigrant rights; criminal justice advocacy and reform for youth and adults; economic justice; and youth leadership.

"I really wanted to focus on working with organizations in Philly who may have a more difficult time obtaining operational funding," versus grants earmarked for a certain program or purpose, she explains. The Riot Alliance money is available for crucial day-to-day expenses, supplies for community events, or stipends for community workers. For many of these smaller nonprofits, a small amount of money can go a long way.

Looking forward, Schwartz hopes to grow her model in several ways. She aims to make Philly arts fairs more accessible to those who can’t afford the cost of their own tables by purchasing a table herself and sharing it with an artisan from her current partner organization. She also wants to expand her community jewelry-making programming, and look into a stipend-based community or student internship to help her scale up production. Pursuing various independent arts grants and other funding will enable her to donate more in the future.

She also plans to expand her partnerships with other social justice and arts-based businesses via pop-up shops, like a recent one at W/N W/N Coffee Bar.

Riot Alliance's current partner is Juntos, a South Philly-based immigrant rights organization; in May, they'll begin working with Youth United for Change.  

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sara Schwartz, Riot Alliance

Science Central: 5 questions for Whose Your Landlord


Social media makes it possible to review -- or rant about -- everything from movies to books to Uber drivers. But can you post reviews about landlords: the good, the bad and the ugly?
 
Whose Your Landlord (WYL), a University City Science Center startup, provides a platform for tenants to hold landlords accountable. The site asks users to refrain from using it as a bashfest, but invites comments useful to prospective renters before they sign a lease. (Note to grammarians: The company uses the possessive form of the word "who" because, "we’re giving renters ownership of their situation by putting housing in their hands.")
 
The site also functions as a platform for landlords to post rental listings, connect with renters and respond to reviews.
 
We asked Ofo Ezeugwu, the self proclaimed "chieftan" at Whose Your Landlord, to tell us more.

What is your big idea?
 
WYL is a web platform bringing quality to the rental experience by using the power of peer-generated reviews, quality listings and community engagement to connect renters and home providers. Through extensive peer insight from other renters, city data amassed from years of research, and quality listings, we’re ensuring that all WYL renters have a smooth and all-encompassing experience when they're looking to find their next home.

For home providers, we’re streamlining the way listings are uploaded and shared -- making it simple to vet and reference tenants -- and bettering communication lines with the renters of today. 
 
What is your company's origin tale?
 
WYL came out of necessity. In 2012, I ran for vice president of the student body at Temple University. I often heard from renters about the issues with landlords within the local community. I thought, "What if renters knew what to expect before they ever signed a lease?" The idea stuck and the following year, we launched.
 
What is your timeline?
 

We've been live to all users since September 2013. We have over 95,000 users on the platform and experienced 156 percent growth from the previous year (2014). We've bootstrapped thus far and are now in the midst of our seed round.
 
Forty percent of our user base is in Philadelphia and we've been able to start generating real revenue via strategic partnerships with the likes of Roadway Moving and Allstate. And we've just opened up our free beta for home providers to post listings to our community for free.
 
WYL has sparked change right here in Philadelphia: Companies have fired poor performing staffs, universities have partnered with WYL to make the lives of their students better, and residents have found new homes that they can be proud.
 
Why does the marketplace need your company?
 
We primarily target millennial renters -- young professionals and college students. While these individuals move more than any other demographic and comprise 52 percent of total renters nationwide, they are not having their needs met by current rental sites. The issue with the current climate of the rental ecosystem is that "quality" is not the standard. We're here to restore that and to make everyone better residents, home providers and community contributors.
 
What is your elevator speech?
 
WhoseYourLandlord (WYL) is a web platform created to bring quality, accountability and transparency to the rental experience.

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.
 

Startup 101: Look before you leap into crowdfunding


For startups, crowdfunding might seem a foolproof way to raise capital. Wrong!
 
Entrepreneurs are hereby warned that it takes exhaustive preparation: building a network, maintaining a robust online and social media presence and, above all, having a viable idea. Companies that fail to meet their funding goals can appear tainted in future investors’ eyes. Equally worrisome are companies that fail to deliver the pre-orders or perks they promise.
 
Speaking at a recent "Smart Talk" session at the University City Science Center’s Quorum, William Duckworth, a founder of FeverSmart, put it succinctly: "It’s a 30-day process that takes a year to do."
 
FeverSmart is actually a crowdfunding success story, raising $65,000 in 2014 -- 157 percent of its goal -- in 35 days on Indiegogo, one of several popular platforms. The company, which makes a "smart" wearable thermometer, raised 75 percent of its initial $40,000 goal in the first 24 hours, winning a coveted space on Indiegogo’s home page.
 
At Quorum, ROAR for Good co-founder and CEO Yasmine Mustafa described how, in a case of cold feet, she lowered her company’s goal from $100,000 to $40,000 just before launch. The company, which makes a wearable personal-safety device, raised $267,000.
 
"Crowdfunding was a validation that people would buy [our product]," she said. "It was a test about whether we really had a company."
 
Wayne Kimmel of SeventySix Capital, an early investor in Indiegogo, added that "crowdfunding has truly democratized the funding world."
 
And now, crowdfunding is taking a giant step. Effective May 16, new rules will allow startups to raise capital by selling equity shares in their company.
 
"The risks are acute and there will be a lot of stumbling blocks," argued attorney Matthew R. Kittay, who specializes in crowdfunding at Fox Rothschild. "But 1,000 people will share a $1 billion lottery ticket. It will happen and it will be a big story to tell."

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.
 

The Enterprise Center launches a new fund to provide equity to businesses that need it most


Mid-level minority and women-owned businesses can often access financing through debt but not through equity investments. To remedy that problem, The Enterprise Center (TEC) has launched the Performance Fund through its Capital Corporation.

According to TEC, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study revealed that "low-income populations and communities of color were being forced to engage in high-cost financing options for themselves and their businesses, as a result of limited access to basic financial services." This gap is due to a lack of community banks where they’re most needed and inequality in lending practices.

"Traditional [venture capitalists], they don’t look at deals that require less than $3 million," explains Chris Chaplin, TEC Capital Corporation director of public and private capital. "To a great extent, we recognized that there was a demand -- a need in the marketplace for companies to get at least some access to equity to take it from one level to another."

The funds for TEC’s first two Performance Fund equity investments came thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). One of them is a $211,000 investment in Jidan Cleaning LLC, owned by Patricia Claybrook, with offices in Medford, N.J., and Philadelphia.

When vetting companies for these inaugural investments, TEC targeted businesses with revenue of at least $250,000 annually.

"A lot of these companies, they can get debt, but they need equity support to take it up to the next level," says Chaplin. For most women-and minority-owned businesses of this size -- already hampered by a lack of financial and social resources more easily accessed by white male entrepreneurs -- "getting equity is next to impossible."

TEC helped to finance Jidan’s growth in the past with a loan, which the business serviced well. The company has a long relationship with the West Philly organization: They clean its building and those of its partner organizations.

"What we’ve found is they’ve been growing rapidly," with larger and larger contracts, says Chaplin. "We recognized Patricia needed some financial support…but we didn’t want her to be caught in a situation where she was just servicing debt."

Over a three-year period, the $211,000 equity investment will help Jidan grow its full-time staff by 14, its part-time staff by 17, and provide benefits to employees. Chaplin predicts that with this investment, the company will surpass TEC’s staffing estimate.

"The focus of our work with HHS with these investments is not only to create wealth," he adds. "The real focus is to create jobs...sustainable jobs with benefits."

TEC is already looking toward the next cohort of Performance Fund recipients. While TEC may approach HHS with its decision by the end of April, the new cohort won’t be announced until September. 

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Chris Chaplin, The Enterprise Center
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