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From Startup to High Impact: The latest Exchange PHL Breakfast talks nonprofit innovation

On December 2, wake up with more than just coffee at the latest installment of the Exchange PHL Breakfast Series. At Wednesday's event, regional leaders in innovative social good will tackle "the Path from Startup To High Impact." 

"I think there is something that’s profoundly shifting among nonprofits and their openness to look at these possible changes in how they do business," explains Nadya K. Shmavonian, director of the newly formed Nonprofit Repositioning Fund, who will be speaking at the breakfast.

Hosted by nonprofit-centric co-working space The Exchange, located in Center City’s Friends Center, the event will shift the conversation from entrepreneurship to operations, and discuss how great programs become part of the fabric of the city, touching on sustainable revenue models, evaluation and adaptation.

"We just launched on October 7, so it’s a very new effort," Shmavonian says of the Fund. "We have been pleasantly surprised at how much interest there’s been."

The seven founding members include North Penn Community Health Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, Scattergood Foundation, the Barra Foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, William Penn Foundation and Arizona’s Lodestar Foundation.

The Fund targets nonprofits in transition in the greater Philadelphia area, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. Hosted and administered by the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia, seed awards and grants will support nonprofits as they explore and formalize new collaborations, joint ventures and consolidations.

In rare instances, the Fund will also help with dissolution planning for individual organizations outside of a merger or acquisition. That, along with the work of "repositioning" nonprofits, can lead to questions about the Fund’s goals.

"How do foundations work with nonprofits in a way that is not threatening?" asks Shmavonian. "Because obviously there’s a power imbalance there. This isn’t about thinning the herd. It really is about finding ways to allow a nonprofit to…deliver on their mission in a sustainable high-performance way."

That can include tweaks like merging back office realms or making an informal partnership an integral piece of an organizations’ structure, allowing the pooling of resources and best practices.

"There’s a whole array of arrangements that people are looking at that stop far short of a formal merger or acquisition," she adds.

Shmavonian is looking forward to the December 2 conversation, which will also feature Lauren Fine of the Youth Sentencing and Re-entry Project. She thinks the next several years will bring very interesting deals for regional nonprofits, and that the Fund will grow a portfolio of creative models for participating organizations.

"It’s a fast-changing environment out there," she argues. "I’m as much about shifting the culture and dynamics around this as I am the actual individual deals that we’re going to engage in." 

The latest Exchange PHL Breakfast Series is happening Wednesday, December 2 from 8:30 - 10 a.m. at 1501 Cherry Street. Attendance is free; click here to register.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Nadya K. Shmavonian, the Nonprofit Repositioning Fund

Indy Hall opens its own retail arm with KINSHOP

Artist, maker and entrepreneur co-working hub Indy Hall is launching its first-ever onsite retail venture, and just in time for holiday shopping.

Indy Hall staffer Sean Martorana, who focuses on the arts community and curatorial side of things, says KINSHOP -- which officially opened on November 6 and will probably run until February 2016 -- places no restrictions on the kinds of goods for sale from the Indy Hall community.

“It was really cool to see and celebrate the things that people have made here,” he enthuses.

Dubbed "a collective boutique and small-retail experience in the Indy Hall Gallery," KINSHOP features wares from over a dozen members. The name came out of the group’s recent successful KIN collaborative exhibition, which kicked off this fall’s arts season.

Items on sale range in price from about $100 to $125 for sculptures and $10 to $12 for small arts and crafts items such as prints, wrapping paper, holiday greeting cards, music, pillows, jam, wineglasses, terrariums, tote bags, scarves and more. Thirty percent of each purchase goes directly to arts programming at Indy Hall, funding things like classes and workshops, and gallery and store upkeep. The rest goes to the makers.

The goods will rotate throughout the season -- as soon as one item sells out, something else made at Indy Hall goes on the market. That means the shop will be worth multiple visits for the assiduous locally minded holiday shopper.

“As we sell we’re just going to keep putting stuff in," explains Martorana. "We have so much stuff in our community that we’re not going to go empty."

Indy Hall’s usual weekday hours (9 a.m. - 6 p.m.) are a good time to check out KINSHOP; if you need to make it an evening outing, Martorana recommends Night Owl hours (Tuesdays, 6 - 10 p.m.).

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sean Martorana, Indy Hall 

Startup Central: Five Questions for BioBots

Movie aficionados may remember when Woody Allen kidnapped the disembodied nose of an evil leader in 1973’s Sleeper

Forty-two years later, BioBots, a startup that moved to the University City Science Center in June, is developing a desktop 3D printer that builds living tissue out of human cells. Yes, noses, and eventually organs for transplant. 

We asked Madeline Winter, BioBots' vice president of operations, five key questions about this ambitious company.

What is your big idea?

At BioBots, we create 3D bioprinters and bioinks. Imagine an ordinary 3D printer, but instead of printing plastic, our 3D bioprinters create living tissue. No, this is not science fiction -- currently our devices are used for research and pre-clinical screening such as drug testing. You can use our devices to build 3D living tissue models using human cells that are better able to recapitulate the function of the body. These models can be used to develop compounds for clinical settings and catch false positives before they get to clinical trials. Our long-term goal is to print custom replacement organs from a patient's own cells and eliminate the organ donor waiting list.

What is your origin tale?

Our co-founder and CTO Ricardo Solorzano created the prototype in his dorm room after being frustrated by the high cost of equipment for the University of Pennsylvania lab where he worked. Ricardo entered the prototype in an investor competition with Danny Cabrera, then a Penn senior. They ended up winning first place, pumping the prize money back into further development of the device and deciding to spend the summer seeing what they could build before starting grad school. Danny took on the role of CEO and they were accepted to the DreamIt Health Accelerator

What is your timeline?

We launched our beta program in January and quickly sold our first 50 printers to some of the best researchers around the world. When we started designing the next generation device, we reached out to our amazing community of customers for feedback on how to refine the design. We took all of their comments and used that data to design the BioBot 1, which is more precise and is able to print multiple materials at the same time. We start shipping the first BioBot 1 bioprinters this month to our growing list of customers. We aim to have a BioBots 3D bioprinter on every lab bench in the world. 

Why does the marketplace need your company?

While biofabrication has been around for a while, the other 3D bioprinters on the market are expensive (costing up to half a million dollars), large and difficult to operate. It was for these reasons that only a small number of institutions had the resources and abilities to use them. We set out to democratize that technology by developing the most sophisticated desktop 3D bioprinter on the market. By reducing the price of entry, we are able to get our devices into the hands of more researchers who are accomplishing amazing strides in their research using our devices and biomaterials. 
What is your elevator speech?

Our goal at BioBots has always been to create standards and modular systems that can engineer biology to cure disease, eliminate the organ waiting list, reverse climate change and push humans to live on other planets. Our devices will help to advance research, develop drugs and push the human race forward.
Source: Madeline Winter, BioBots
Writer: Elise Vider

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.

Philadelphia is America's first World Heritage City

While the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance was fighting to maintain the city's Cultural Fund budget -- which faced steep cuts for the next fiscal year -- Philly was on track to become the United States’ first World Heritage City. The designation, announced last week after a vote from the World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) in Arequipa, Peru, went up like a firework in local news feeds.

Philly is the 267th World Heritage City, having logged one major qualification back in 1979, when Independence Hall became a World Heritage Site.

"Philadelphia is the largest and most complete fulfillment of the kind of model city envisioned by Enlightenment architects," OWHC notes on our city’s new page.

It’s an exciting first for a city already spreading its wings on the national and global stage, hosting Pope Francis in September and the Democratic National Convention in summer 2016.

Cultural Alliance president Maud Lyon is excited about the possibilities of Philly’s new distinction, but notes that our identity as a city with strong ties to the rest of the world is not a new one.

"It’s really important for us to focus on being a global city," she argues. "We have been from the very beginning, and I think it’s important for us to have that perspective. 

"I think culture is always the first ambassador that goes out for a city,” she continues, noting the success of a world tour for the Philadelphia Orchestra in the past year. "Those concert halls were packed everywhere the Orchestra went."

It’s a good time to be getting our world-class cultural offerings out there because according to a Global Philadelphia study cited in the Inquirer, the city could be looking at a significant tourism boost: a one to two percent increase in domestic visitors (generating an economic impact of up to $200 million), and a rise in foreign visitors that could reach 15 percent, or the addition of up to 100,000 tourists annually.

Lyon is excited by the possibilities of more visitors from overseas, particularly a growing population of middle class travelers from throughout Asia, especially China and India.

"I think that we will in the next ten years be seeing more people coming from that part of the world who want to tour Philadelphia, and we absolutely want to be a destination for them," she adds.

The next ten years will be important ones for America, too, as the 250th anniversary of the country's independence approaches.

Culture is "the most approachable and welcoming and inclusive way of being an ambassador [for a] city," says Lyon, and the influx of international visitors -- and hopefully more collaborations between foreign artists and Philly institutions -- will be "the kind of cross-fertilization that you need between cultures.”

From Philly’s history as the United States’ birthplace to our musical tradition to our scientific and educational institutions, our city has plenty to offer. In considering the World Heritage designation, Lyon says we need to take pride not only in the international visitors we attract, but in the longtime diversity of our home. It’s not just about honoring the framers of the Constitution.

"Certainly the diversity of ethnic heritage that’s part of this city and this region is very rich and very important to who we are," she explains. "It’s important for us to remember that and to really own being a global city."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Maud Lyon, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Philadelphia

Science Center gives Philly schoolkids 'FirstHand' look at science and technology

Take a lab full of middle schoolers, dress them in lab coats, give them a pile of plastic bags, tools, equipment and enthusiastic instruction and, just like that, they’re transforming recycled plastics into new materials.
"Polymer Play" is just one aspect of FirstHand, the University City Science Center’s expanded-and-rebranded initiative to expose kids from under-resourced Philadelphia schools to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. With its new name, a dedicated lab and an expanding roster of participating schools, the program employs creative exploration to teach kids about science and expose them to an array of career opportunities.
The new space offers scales, micropipettes, glassware, electronic sensors -- just the kind of hands-on goodies not generally available in a traditional classroom. Equally important is how FirstHand capitalizes on the vital innovation ecosystem at the Science Center. The lab is down the hall from emerging technology companies working out of the Port Business Incubator; they commit to hosting student groups at least six times a year. Among the companies serving as FirstHand mentors are Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Integral Molecular and Invisible Sentinel
By exposing young students to real scientists working in careers they might never have known about, the program sends a clear message that these jobs are not limited by gender or ethnicity.

"The reason the [STEM skills] workforce gap exists is because there is an exposure gap," explains FirstHand Director David Clayton.
On the day Flying Kite visited, students from West Philadelphia’s City School were using soldering and sealing irons and a heat press to fuse plastic bags into pencil cases, hats and pre-Halloween mustaches. On the surface, they were learning about the chemistry of plastics but there was a subtler lesson, too: how to take a project from initial idea, through brainstorming, design and prototyping to completion. And according to Program Manager Danielle Stollak, that process is exactly the same as the one employed by the companies down the hall.
More than 400 7th and 8th graders from the Alain Locke Elementary School, Belmont Academy Charter School, the City School and KiPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School are participating in FirstHand; additional schools are expected to join later this fall and another two schools next semester. The program is also expanding to a full year and launching a high school initiative. For now, the students spend 25 hours a semester at FirstHand, culminating with a series of project fairs in December.
Source: David Clayton and Danielle Stollak, FirstHand
Writer: Elise Vider

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.

Wharton study finds that socially conscious investing can also be profitable

Do people investing money in companies geared for social or environmental good have to give up the prospect of market-rate returns in exchange for working towards a better world?

No. At least according to the first systematic academic research to address the young but extremely broad field of "impact investing," the Wharton Social Impact Initiative's (WSII) new report, "Great Expectations: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance in Impact Investments." In some arenas, socially or environmentally conscious investors can see their returns hit market-rate performance.

"It’s difficult to talk about the report because there is so much nuance in it," explains co-author Harry Douglas, a full-time impact investing associate at WSII, who continues to follow the data of this growing field. However, he hopes that the findings will be accessible enough to spread the message that, contrary to longtime perceptions, impact investing doesn’t "necessitate a concessionary return."

What does that mean?

Investors who choose to put their private equity dollars into companies with missions like micro-finance, healthcare in low-income regions, education technology or green energy don’t have to accept smaller returns than folks who put their money into more traditional profit-driven avenues.

The study tracked the performance of 53 impact investing private equity funds that represent 557 individual investments, and debunks the widespread assumption that lower investment returns are inevitable when investing in socially focused funds.

How do we define impact investing? According to the Global Impact Investing Network, the receiving company’s intentionality of impact (meaning their bedrock commitment to the good outcomes they espouse), the measurable impact the company makes, and the expectation of a financial return.

So since impact investing is such a broad field, with many investors valuing a specific social interest over maximized profits, how did WSII identify a stable of funds to follow? WSII asked participating fund managers to self-identify in one of three categories: those seeking to simply preserve the capital invested, those seeking below-market-rate returns, and those pursuing market-rate returns.

"Our report doesn’t make any type of value judgements about what’s appropriate there, because there’s important work to be done in each of those three segments of the financial expectation," says Douglas. But this study focused only on the latter group of investors: those whose fund managers were seeking market-rate returns.

They did this because they wanted to get the best understanding possible of what the industry’s going to look like over the next couple of years, given the typical five-to-seven-year life cycle of a private equity investment. Funds launched around 2010 are nearing the time that fund managers will exit the companies involved. So there are the questions of whether those investments will prove profitable, whether the companies' missions continue after the exit, or if fund managers seeking higher returns abandon the ideals when mission protections aren’t built into the language of exit agreements.

"We focus on this market-rate seeking segment because we felt the tension would be greatest in this group," explains Douglas. "They would be trying to balance these competitive market-rate returns with preserving portfolio company mission."

This research is just the beginning.

"We’re really hoping to grow this sample size, so we can make more definitive statements about the industry," adds Douglas. 

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Harry Douglas, Wharton Social Impact Initiative 

A Commerce Department pilot program funds security cameras in two Philly neighborhoods

The Philadelphia Department of Commerce has a dedicated program to cover 50 percent of the installation costs of outdoor security cameras at city businesses, but it recently realized that in some neighborhoods that isn’t enough.

"We have been finding that businesses in low-income areas are not as prone to be able to take advantage of that," explains Karen Lockhart Fegely, the Commerce Department’s deputy director of neighborhood & business services.

So, with help from Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) dollars, the Department launched a pilot program to fund the entire cost of outdoor security cameras in two targeted neighborhoods.

One of those areas is a stretch of the Germantown business corridor: the 5600 to 5900 blocks of Germantown Avenue. According to Germantown United CDC Corridor Manager Emaleigh Doley, the Philadelphia Police Department helped to identify the right locations. 

"Once this project is complete, there will be at least 25 businesses on this area of the corridor…that will have new security cameras" facing the street, she explains. This is "exciting" for those investing in Germantown’s business corridor. "Not to get all 'Big Brother' on people, but shoppers like knowing that the corridor is safer, so I’m really hoping that helps set a new tone in that area."

The other spot getting new security cameras through NTI funds is the N. 22nd Street commercial corridor of Allegheny West, which the Commerce Department chose because it’s already the site of streetscape upgrades through a capital improvement project.

Allegheny West Foundation's Thera Martin-Milling is the N. 22nd Street corridor manager, and she did the legwork of securing plans and estimates from camera companies. The Commerce Department, again with input from the Police Department, hopes to install the devices at evenly distributed intervals along the stretch.

The corridor managers on both 22nd [Street] and Germantown Avenue contacted the business and property owners at strategic locations to solicit their approval to have the cameras installed and to maintain the cameras.

So what is the effect of putting more eyes on the street?

"At this point, we do not have hard evidence on return on investment in terms of increase of foot traffic and sales revenue," says Fegely, but the basic goal is to support commerce through increased public safety. To receive Commerce Department reimbursements for the cameras, participating business and property owners must register their cameras through the PPD’s SafeCam program.

"It is widely accepted that the first step to revitalizing and sustaining a corridor is to make it clean and safe," adds Fegely.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Emaleigh Doley, Germantown United CDC; Karen Lockhart Fegely, Philadelphia Department of Commerce

Kensington Quarters celebrates one year; owners bringing new dining spot to Point Breeze

A year after launching Frankford Avenue's Kensington Quarters -- a restaurant with its own on-site butcher shop sourcing whole, sustainably and humanely raised animals -- owner Michael Pasquarello has been pleasantly surprised. (Here’s the Flying Kite look at KQ’s opening.)

"What’s been really awesome is the butcher shop has performed better than we expected," he says of the front corner of the space.

Pasquarello worried that his goal of reviving an old-fashioned butcher’s counter in the age of the supermarket would be tough, but a dedicated customer base has materialized. Thanks to that success, KQ offers a growing roster of locally sourced retail products including pickles, produce, dairy, cheese, salts and olive oil. With help from butcher Heather Marold Thomason, Pasquarello plans to expand this part of the business over the next year, "so people can come through and put their meals together."

He also hopes to better utilize the upper floor, which already hosts a range of cooking and butchering classes and events. KQ Executive Chef Damon Menapace plans on more collaborations with top local chefs, including one in November with George Sabatino.

The demonstration space has already hosted Rob Marzinsky, executive chef of 13th Street Kitchens Restaurant Group's latest venture Buckminster’s, a "neo-bistro" slated to open in November in Point Breeze. The resto group -- owned and run by Pasquarello and his wife Jeniphur -- also operates Café Lift (their first restaurant, opened in 2003), Prohibition Taproom and Bufad

Buckminster's -- which will boast design elements that honor local science legend Buckminster Fuller of geodesic dome fame -- aims to capitalize on a dining style that’s especially popular in Paris right now, with young chefs giving their own spin on small plates of casual bistro food. But according to Pasquarello, Buckminster’s menu isn’t defined by French cuisine. It will focus on locally sourced goods, with a seasonal menu changing every couple of days and complementing the beverages on offer. Plates ($2-$21) will join eight beers and six wines, along with specialty cocktails.

Pasquarello hopes that Buckminster’s (coming to 1200 S. 21st Street) will open sometime in November offering dinner seven nights a week, with brunch and lunch hours to follow as the restaurant finds its feet.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michael Pasquarello, 13th Street Kitchens Restaurant Group

New manager at Germantown United CDC has all the neighborhood news

Emaleigh Doley, a longtime community activist, has a new hat: she's one of two full-time employees at Germantown United CDC (along with executive director Andy Trackman). Thanks to support from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, she started in late August as the nonprofit’s corridor manager, and is now nurturing and managing a slew of projects at the upstart community development corporation.

These include the latest round of GUDCD's Fund for Germantown grantees, who receive micro-grants for "community-driven beautification projects" in the neighborhood; those winners were announced October 1. The dollars come via local real estate developers Ken Weinstein and Howard Treatman, and have supported 17 initiatives (with amounts ranging from $100 to $1,000) since the program’s inception.

The latest grantees include photographer Tieshka Smith for her "Peaceful Places" public signage project, Maplewood Mall’s iMPeRFeCT Gallery, which will be installing an interactive sidewalk mural, and Susan Guggenheim’s Freedom Gardens, which connects local gardeners eager to share crops with those looking for homegrown produce. Other grantees include the Germantown elementary school Fitler Academics Plus, the West Central Germantown Neighbors, Men Who Care of Germantown and the East Germantown's Chew-Belfield Neighbors Club.

According to Doley, the Germantown Artists Roundtable, a previous grantee, stands out as a successful example of what the funds can do. The group recently mounted a display of information on current arts and culture events outside the Chelten Avenue train station, and plans to keep it updated as a community resource for happenings around town.

"We’re starting to see how that could be a really attractive feature in other areas of Germantown," she explains. "We’re learning from the project ideas that are coming through, and thinking about how we might like to build initiatives around some of them."

Applications for the next round of Fund for Germantown grants are due December 31, 2015.

Also looming large on GUCDC’s horizon is a new website for the neighborhood featuring a business directory. Doley notes that while Historic Germantown does a good job of providing online information about the area’s historic sites, residents and visitors alike often aren’t aware of other amenities, from parks and public spaces to hardware stores and restaurants. She hopes the new website will remedy that.

GUCDC is working with P’unk Avenue to develop the site. Input is being gathered via interviews and workshops with community leaders, residents and business owners. The site is on track to launch in early 2016.

Other projects for the commercial corridor in Germantown include the installation of new security cameras and a storefront activation initiative in partnership with local artists. Check back with Flying Kite as we keep up with the latest in our former On the Ground home.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Emaleigh Doley, Germantown United Community Development Corporation


Penn lab promises a new frontier in cardiac repair

For patients who suffer heart attacks, the resulting damage to the organ can eventually lead to heart failure. Now a University of Pennsylvania lab is investigating the use of injectable biomaterials that show promise as a new frontier in cardiac repair.
Speaking at the University City Science Center’s Quorum, Dr. Jason Burdick, a Penn bioengineering professor, described how "hydrogels" have delivered promising results that "might be the difference between going on to heart failure or not." (Bioengineering encompasses concepts from biology and engineering; many areas of the field focus on biomedical applications.) 
The Burdick Polymeric Biomaterials Lab at Penn was established 10 years ago and immediately began work on hydrogels. The study of cardiac repair began around seven years ago. The aim is to create substances that go directly into the heart tissue to preserve the heart wall thickness and the overall shape of the heart, frequently damaged by heart attack or "myocardial infarction."
"Injectability is an interesting engineering problem," explains Burdick. The challenge is to get the gelatinous gloop to flow through syringes and catheters, solidify and stay stable in the heart tissue.
Burdick and his team are making progress using a class of hydrogels based on the molecule hyaluronic acid, already widely used in cosmetic and musculoskeletal procedures. A few small clinical studies are already underway.
"The next step is really defining the right formulation that we are interested in pursuing, so that we can finalize pre-clinical large animal trials," he says. "This involves selection of the appropriate method for delivery of the hydrogels to the heart. Hopefully we will move towards a Phase I clinical trial in just a few years."
Burdick is careful to credit clinical collaborators at Penn and other schools, notably Robert Gorman, a Penn professor of cardiovascular surgery. The two have founded a startup called Myostratum that is focused on the translation of hydrogel therapies.
"I believe this is an exciting area that has a lot of potential to develop new therapies for patients that have myocardial infarction," adds Burdick. "Many people are affected by heart disease and the development of therapies that can improve clinical outcomes is very important."
Source: Dr. Jason Burdick, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania
Writer: Elise Vider

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.

Ben Franklin's pennies meet the 21st century with a TechniCulture residency

When it comes to funding, Christ Church Preservation Trust has a unique problem. According to Executive Director Barbara Hogue, about a million people visit Ben Franklin's grave every year. Somewhere in the early-to-mid 20th century, it became customary to toss a penny onto the Founding Father’s resting place in honor of Franklin' adage, "a penny saved is a penny earned." The custom isn’t limited to Americans -- last year the Trust counted currency from 30 different countries on the grave.

Currently, the coins the Trust collects amount to about $3,500 per year -- not an insignificant source of revenue when preservation and maintenance on the two-acre historic Christ Church Burial Ground (founded in 1723 at Fifth and Arch Streets) costs $50,000 annually. The trouble is that all those donated coins are damaging the limestone of Franklin’s grave, eroding the very landmark visitors are trying to honor.

In June, the Trust received $38,000 in the form of a Keystone Heritage Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the conservation of Franklin’s grave. They worked with the firm Materials Conservation to develop the grant. Conservators insisted that the problems went beyond water-induced deterioration of the grave's limestone tablet and marble base.

The Trust hopes to solve the issue without losing its income stream or halting a beloved custom. This summer, Flying Kite took a look at the call for the Cultural Alliance’s inaugural TechniCulture Innovation Residency Award program applications, and this month, three winners were announced, including Christ Church Preservation Trust.

"What we really need to do is get people to stop throwing pennies on his grave, because it’s really hurting the limestone," insists Hogue. That’s where the TechniCulture application came in. "How can we encourage people to give a penny, or encourage the social custom, without damaging the grave?"

Enter Davis Shaver, the digital products and solutions lead for Philadelphia Media Network. For three months starting this October, Shaver will partner with the Trust to develop ideas for capturing this revenue stream for the essential historic site -- also boasting the graves of luminaries like Benjamin Rush, five other Signers besides Franklin, and many Revolutionary War heroes -- without cutting out the fun of honoring Ben Franklin with a small on-site donation.

"Maybe it’s an app, maybe it’s a texting opportunity," she says of the possibilities of the residency. It could be “some really simple way for people to donate small amounts of money" that could develop into a fun campaign to engage graveyard visitors, and keep the grounds safe and accessible to the public.

Early next year, all three winners of the TechniCulture Innovation Residency will present the findings of their residencies, and the Cultural Alliance will further reward one of them with funds toward implementation of the ideas.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Barbara Hogue, Christ Church Preservation Trust


After pop-up success, Philly is finally getting its own Filipino restaurant

Last winter, Philly chef Lou Boquila helped bring the city its first taste of a cuisine that’s hard to find in these parts: Filipino food. With help from partners Neal Santos, Jillian Encarnacion and Resa Mueller, Pelago Pop-Up Kusina temporarily took over Passyunk Square resto Noord. The event (and subsequent pop-ups) sold out, and now Boquila is launching his own restaurant in South Philly.

Perla, currently under construction at 1535 South 11th Street, will be the city's only Filipino restaurant. Boquila, a Philippines native who came to Philly when he was eight, says he’s not a traditional Filipino chef.

"But I know the food," he insists. "I know the flavors, [and] I relate that to a restaurant kitchen."

Balking a bit at overuse of the word "fusion," the fledgling restaurateur nonetheless describes Filipino dishes as a mix of influences. They blend Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Spanish flavors, and are served in family-style communal meals that are hard to replicate in a restaurant setting.

Boquila, who’s been cooking for about ten years, got his start in the local food industry as a dishwasher at South Street’s now-defunt Knave of Hearts. He worked his way up, becoming a line cook and then helping run the kitchen, before deciding to attend culinary school. After finishing, he interned at Twenty Manning Grill, where he later became sous chef, and then moved to Rittenhouse Square’s Audrey Claire, where he’s been since 2007.

"Perla will be interpretations of popular Filipino dishes," he explains; he's aiming for "an approachable palate everyone can try."

For example, there's his version of kare-kare, a Filipino stew he makes with oxtail and tripe, along with peanut butter and shrimp paste. He assures diners not to be scared off by the unusual-sounding flavor combo of this "very different, very very funky dish," because it all blends together well with the under-appreciated savory quality of peanuts.

Perla will have a small start for its small space, focusing mainly on a tasting menu that will keep the chef in a hands-on role. But in a nod to traditional Filipino dining, the restaurant will offer special Sunday brunches -- according to Boquila, "breakfast is very big in the Filipino community" -- as well as a Sunday night homage to home-style Filipino dining with kamayan meals, large communal dinners eaten by hand off of a banana leaf.

Boquila hopes to open Perla by March of 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Lou Boquila
, Perla

Breakfast Club at The Exchange: Talking Social Innovation

Last week, over 30 Philadelphians set their alarms and woke early to head to the Friends Center for breakfast. On offer was much more than just bagels and coffee -- organized by The Exchange, a co-working space comprised of nonprofits and philanthropic organizations, the event was an opportunity to discuss social innovation in Philadelphia.

The crowd included local leaders in development, government, nonprofit administration, startups and philanthropy. All are working towards making this city a national leader in uncovering thoughtful solutions to society's problems, whether through policy, programs or entrepreneurial ventures.

One of the key questions that arose from the discussion -- led by Matt Joyce of the GreenLight Fund (who works out of the Exchange) -- was, what are the things that limit great ideas? It's often not just economics, but also politics: being in the right rooms at the right times, and making the right arguments to the right people. That often takes a different type of expertise -- founders may have knowledge and drive, but they also need pitching help and matchmaking with investors and stakeholders. How can the entrepreneurial and nonprofit communities help nurture initiatives and organizations from creative spark to potential investment to surefire success?

Fortunately, the city has more and more avenues to incubate those great ideas, from the Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab to the Commerce Department's StartUpPHL program, to accelerators at established venture funds like DreamIt and Good Company Ventures. And even if every promising startup or pilot program doesn't make it, the founders earn valuable experience and become better bets in the future. 
Luke Butler, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, talked about how when First Round Capital (a Commerce Department partner) is looking to invest in early stage companies, the idea is important, but they invest primarily in the founder and the team. As an example, he mentioned Curalate -- a company that pivoted from trying to build an Airbnb for parking spaces to designing marketing campaigns for social media platforms. The company has become a shining star in the city's ascendent startup landscape.

And it's not only companies that have to be agile. A group of Temple students founded Philly Urban Creators, an urban farm at 11th and Dauphin. Their goals were to grow produce for the neighborhood and engage the local community. Five years in, they weren't making enough money to sustain themselves. How do you get from a nonprofit that's doing good, to a more sustainable revenue model? 

The organization went through the FastFWD program, a public/private partnership between The City of Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, funded in part by a $1,000,000 grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies. Via that process they came to the conclusion that they needed new revenue streams. The team created a 12-week course targeted at formerly incarcerated youth, covering urban agriculture, carpentry and entrepreneurship. Combatting recidivism was a goal that could dovetail with their original mission, and funding for their first cohort came from the Department of Justice.

Other success stories were bandied about: Coded by Kids, Textizen (which was recently acquired and also went through FastFWD), Springboard Collaborative, an organization that seeks to stop the summer slide for low-income students. Eventually, though the conversation was still humming, folks had to get to work. Fortunately, the bigger picture discussion is just getting started.

Breakfast Club at the Exchange will return November 19. Stay tuned to Flying Kite for more details on the upcoming topic and how you can get in on the coffee talk. You can also join the discussion on twitter using the hashtag #ExchangeBreakfastClub.


Local startup ROAR for Good creates wearable protection for women

If ROAR for Good had its way, there would be no need for its product.
The startup, located at the Innovation Center @ 3401, the University City Science Center and Drexel University’s entrepreneurial incubation space, is the developer of the Athena device, a line of jewelry that triggers an alarm and text messages if its wearer is in danger.
"We’ve architected a sophisticated printed-circuit board (PCB) that can fit within our Athena line of jewelry," explains Charlotte Wells, ROAR’s operations executive. "The PCB contains logic such as a Bluetooth micro-controller and buzzer that enables the jewelry to emit a loud alarm when the button is pressed, as well as communicate with wireless devices to send alert messages to friends and family members. We’re also engineering the ability for the device to call 911 in order to get instant help in an emergency."
The company took a big step last week, launching a $40,000 Indiegogo (IGG) campaign, which according to Wells, "gives us a chance to spread the word about ROAR as a company and Athena as a product, while allowing people to pre-order the device for themselves or loved ones."

ROAR raised 64 percent of its goal in the first day.
With a successful IGG campaign -- plus funds from angel investors -- ROAR expects to begin shipping by next spring even as it continues to innovate.

"The Athena line of jewelry is just our first product," says Wells. "We plan to introduce additional designs and styles to appeal to different lifestyles. Also, as technology evolves, more things can be done in even smaller spaces. For example, embedding the technology directly into clothing, footwear, phone cases and so forth enables even greater flexibility."
As a social-mission certified B-Corp, ROAR also wants to address the root causes of violence against women. The startup has committed to investing a percentage of its proceeds in nonprofits that teach young men and women about empathy, respect and healthy relationships.
"The truth of the matter is that women should not need to alter their lifestyle, modify their behavior or carry self-defense devices to protect themselves," insists Wells. "Our goal is to help create a society where that is a reality. In the meantime, ROAR is committed to helping make a difference."
"We will continue developing solutions to reduce assaults and ideally begin to transform society," she continues. "To borrow from Steve Jobs, we want to make a dent in the universe of women’s safety and nothing would bring us more joy than to obviate the need for devices like Athena."
Source: Charlotte Wells, ROAR for Good
Writer: Elise Vider

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 Central: Five Questions for Noble.MD

Instead of flipping through year-old magazines next time you’re waiting in a doctor’s exam room, imagine using that time (an average of 22 minutes) to enter important medical information on an iPad. Imagine how that could make the average nine-minute doctor/patient encounter more productive for both parties. Real-time information could improve your care, speed your insurance claim and free up your provider to focus more on screening and treatment.
Noble.MD, a healthcare IT startup located at the University City Science Center’s Innovation Center @3401, has developed a technology platform that does all that. Their goal is to improve outcomes for patients and create efficiencies for medical providers.
We asked Meg Steinmetz, chief program officer at Noble, five key questions about this growing company.
What is your big idea?

The average U.S. primary care physician (PCP) has a patient panel of 3,500 patients. With all the requirements and recommendations of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare, it would take the average PCP 21.7 hours per day to provide all recommended risk screening and care. As a result, 50 percent of health risks are never identified and coded, including chronic conditions. 
Our team designed a product called Theo to gather information from patients about their health risks on an iPad while they're in the doctor’s exam room. Theo then offers useful information about their health in an interactive manner that is simple and easy to understand. Theo turns the exam-room waiting time into fun, productive time for the patient and provides valuable information to the doctor that is otherwise often missed.
What is your origin story?

Our CEO Todd Johnson and his wife Bindi Shah-Johnson -- both trained physicians -- experienced a health crisis with their daughter in the first days of her life. While sitting in an exam room, these two doctors and new parents experienced firsthand how lack of knowledge and communication lead to fear and confusion, which often leads to inaction or poor choices.

Experiencing what average patients go through every day in our incredibly complex health system inspired them to change that for people everywhere.
What is your timeline?

Theo is now three years old and in version 2.0. Theo is being used by over 150 physicians in nine states and has interacted with over 50,000 patients in the past year. We are measuring improvement in patient outcomes as a direct result of using Theo. Our next step? Partnering with a major health plan.
Why does the marketplace need your company?

With healthcare coverage now available to all Americans, healthcare providers and health plans need a faster, more efficient way to identify patient health risks, manage those risks and get patients engaged in their own care. Theo helps our clients to understand the health risks of their patients in real time and manage them immediately. Our clients range from individual clinicians to accountable care organizations, academic hospitals and health systems.
What is your elevator speech?

Doctors and nurses today simply do not have the time to spend with every patient to screen for every health risk, yet under the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act and the Accountable Care Movement, they need to do just that. Theo makes it easy for providers and health plans to learn more about their patients’ health risks and lifestyles, and for patients to learn more about how they can manage their health and better their lives.
Source: Meg Steinmetz, Noble.MD

Writer: Elise Vider

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.
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