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Inventing the Future: Drexel launches groundbreaking school to educate young entrepreneurs

Drexel University has been making headlines as a leading innovator in higher education. In addition to launching the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, the school spearheaded the ExCITe Center (featured in the December 4 issue of Flying Kite). Now they’re taking it a step further, announcing the foundation of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, slated to open in fall 2013. 

The curriculum has not been officially announced, but founding dean Dr. Donna DeCarolis says Close will put less emphasis on traditional business programing. Instead, the new school will stress actionable skills such as teamwork and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Students will develop expertise in a particular discipline -- whether it's engineering, science or the arts -- while building business know-how.

"It’s important in a very broad way that we teach our students how to be entrepreneurial in their personal and professional lives," says DeCarolis.

The Close School was founded with a $12.5 million endowment from the Charles and Barbara Close Foundation. It is one of the first freestanding schools devoted to entrepreneurship in the country. Close will offer incoming freshman a "living and learning community" where students dorm together and engage in venture-related activities. Sophomores and juniors can opt for an "entrepreneurship co-op," and receive funding and mentorship to work exclusively on their new enterprise.

Entrepreneurship, explains DeCarolis, is not just about starting a business. The ability to develop an idea and follow it through is increasingly valuable. Even within the corporate structure, today’s executives look to their employees for new ideas and a demonstrated ability to innovate.

It's also about flexibility. "Students that graduate today, by the time they're in their forties, will have had ten or so jobs," says DeCarolis. "Many of those jobs will be self-employment."

Source: Donna DeCarolis, Drexel's Close School of Entrepreneurship
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Drexel undergrads snag top prize at Lean Startup Philly 3.0

Most everyday objects, particularly mobile devices, could benefit from an added solar panel. That was the original hypothesis of "Team Spore," winners of this weekend’s Lean Startup Machine Philly 3.0, held at Drexel University's Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.

The team of Drexel undergrads -- Mark Brandon, Dylan Kenny and Jason Browne -- walked away with an AWeber account, a month-long membership at Seed Philly and web development through the Venturepact X incubator .

Lean Startup Machine (often incorrectly lumped in with Startup Weekend) focuses on building the concept rather than a working product. Participants spent three days testing their assumptions and interviewing potential customers.
Half of the 55 participants were students. To lure those students, organizer Kert Heinecke moved the event from VentureF0rth to University City. The Baiada Institute, the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at University of the Arts and AWebber provided several student scholarships. Dan Shipper, a Penn junior who cofounded Airtime for Email and Firefly, was a guest speaker.
Browne -- who met Brandon and Kenny at the event -- admits his concept was simple, but says the team benefited from rigorous testing. "Usually, if I have an idea, I jump right in," he says. "Taking a step back and thinking about [our concept] from a market -- not a marketing -- perspective was helpful."

Session mentors included Chris Cera from Arcweb, Ted Mann from SnipSnap, Brad Denenberg from Seed Philly, Jake Stein from RJ Metrics and Yasmine Mustafa, cofounder of 123Links and Girl Develop IT Philly.
Twelve teams made it to the finals. Second place was awarded to Paper Wool, a home goods design company and graduate of the Corzo Incubator and Good Company Ventures. Washington, D.C. team Busted, which helps customers find shop for bras online, finished third.
Source: Kert Heinecke, Lean Startup Machine Philly; Jason Browne, Team Spore
Writer: Dana Henry

PSL's Philly Community Map and Directory debuts

Philly’s tech community is on the map. Literally. On January 28, Philadelphia Startup Leaders (PSL) and WeWorkInPhilly (WWIP) launched the Philly Community Map and Directory, a GIS-enabled open-source guide to the individuals, companies, coworking spaces, resources, organizations and investors that make up our growing startup economy.  
Based on the WWIP directory created by Linus Graybill and Alex Hillman (cofounder of Indy Hall), the resource is intended to be "used by all, owned by none." Its development brought together a team of disparate techie founders including Hillman, Chris Cera of ArcWeb, Brad Oyler of W3Portals, Mel Baiada of BaseCamp Ventures, Brian Kirk of Technically Philly, Elliot Menschik of Venturef0rth and Bob Moul of appRenaissance.
"A lot of people are interested in finding better ways to interact with the tech community," says Cera. "[The Community Map] is a minimum viable product we did collaboratively to prove that we can all work together even though we have different goals and different stakeholders."
Member listings can include revenue, customers, number of employees and job postings. Cera points out that the project is not solely focused on the commercial aspects of the tech community -- new members can register companies or sign up as people.
Moul, who is president of PSL, expects the map will help entrepreneurs, startups and businesses promote themselves, while also making the local tech economy more attractive to inside and outside investment. The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Select Greater Philadelphia, PHL Convention & Visitors Bureau, University City Science Center and Startup PHL plan to host the resource on their websites.
As of January 28th, 852 people and 328 companies have signed up via WeWorkInPhilly. PSL encourages anyone with a stake in the local tech scene to consider joining.
Source: Chris Cera, Bob Moul, Philly Startup Leaders
Writer: Dana Henry

PennApps hackathon delivers big results

The seventh PennApps -- held January 18 through January 20 -- was the largest student-organized hackathon to date worldwide. Over 450 students from universities across the United States, Switzerland, Canada and Germany competed for cash prizes during the 40-hour app building session. On the final afternoon, Irvine Auditorium at 34th and Spruce Streets was packed, as the top twenty teams presented demos to students and national talent scouts.

"Team after team, for twenty straight teams, just killed it," says Pulak Mittal, a PennApps organizer and Penn junior studying computer science and business. "One of our goals as organizers is to put Penn on the map as a top ten technology school. The feedback and the experience of everyone at [the hackathon] indicate that that’s actually happening."

Amongst international contenders, Nop Jiarathanakul, a Penn graduate student in computer graphics engineering who worked solo during the hackathon, placed third for his project Web Tube. The hack is a lightning-speed web browser with an old-school TV monitor graphic interface.

Representatives from many of this year’s sponsors -- which included Microsoft, Yahoo, Venmo, Dropbox, Ebay, Facebook, First Round Capital, Kayak, The New York Times, Twillo, AppNexus, RedHat and Tumblr -- awarded their own prizes to Challenge teams. Winners from Penn were WebTube, Social Development and Urban Sustainability, Uncloseted, Enligne, OnShift, Skynet Command, and Beets.

Mittal says this semester’s PennApps broke the "mobile or web dichotomy" inherent to software hacks -- many teams produced hardware aimed at enhancing everyday objects including backpacks and bikes.

With several listings on Hacker League each week, hackathons have become a phenomenon. As Mittal points out, some hacks even go on to become startups--Firefly,Snapsite, and PayTango came from past PennApps. Traditional computer science education is valuable, he believes, but so is building.

"You see all these other ways technology is changing education," he says. "But I think education in the technology space might be changing dramatically as [hackatons] become something people go to consistently. It will be interesting to see what hackathons contribute in terms of people going into the industry. I’m glad to see PennApps at the forefront."

Source: Pulak Mittal, PennApps
Writer: Dana Henry

Girl Develop It Philly gears up for a higher profile in 2013

From meetups to coworking, the "better together" ethos is on the rise. For women in technology, the local peer support network continues to grow with Girl Geek Dinners, Tech Girlz, Web Start Women and Philly Women in Tech.

One such organization, Girl Develop It Philly, more than tripled its membership at the close of 2012. All sixteen GDI-Philly classes—which cover both soft skills and advanced programing—sold out, with most active members attending more than one class. 

Since establishing GDI-Philly in September 2011, Yasmine Mustafa, founder of 123Linkit and self-proclaimed "non-techie software entrepreneur" (Mustafa was profiled by Flying Kite in November 2011), has witnessed more women attending Philly Tech Meetup, Word Camp Philly and Lean Startup Machine Philly. One member landed a tech job at Center City-based ad agency Red Tettemer after completing GDI-Philly’s full roster of front-end development classes. Another member was hired by Zoe Rooney Web Development  after connecting with the founder through GDI-Philly. Many members credit their new skills for promotions and higher salaries.

While Mustafa says she can’t pinpoint exactly why membership spiked—some women sign up to supplement self-directed learning, others want to make a career change—she believes computer science is becoming more attractive to everyone. "You're stuck on developing something and then, suddenly, everything clicks," explains Mustafa. "It's an incredibly empowering feeling."

To match the growing interest, GDI-Philly beefed up their 2013 offerings with three learning trajectories: a comprehensive front end developer track (starting in January), an introductory back end developer track and a mobile Android/iOS  developer track (available in the spring). They’re also launching a mentorship program and a scholarship fund for their classes.  

For Mustafa, watching members develop and share success is the most rewarding part. "Besides educational reasons, the top reason members state that they signed up is to meet other technical women," she says.

Source: Yasmine Mustafa, Girl Develop It Philly
Writer: Dana Henry

Social Studies: Penn's new "lab" fosters social innovation

We've all been there: You pass by a trash-strewn lot or hear an account of school violence and, suddenly, you have an idea. Philadelphians are great at creating opportunity from seemingly hopeless situations. The road to implantation, however, can be littered with naysayers and fundraising bureaucracy. So how do you know your stroke of genius has merit?
The Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab—an outgrowth of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (PSIJ)— aims to help instigators test their vision against respective markets before fully committing. This may sound like private sector incubation, and that’s exactly the point. The 15-week program will provide mentorship, strategy development and return on investment modeling—opportunities not generally afforded to nonprofit and government organizations. They launch mid-January and will support up to 40 projects per semester.
With a combined 40 years of experience in social programming, Lab cofounders and PSIJ editors Tine Hansen-Turton and Nick Torres consider public sector innovations critical to a developed society. These services not only build our quality of life, Hansen-Turton explains, they also provide an essential step in workforce development via volunteer positions and help foster a regional culture that’s attractive to outside businesses and talent. "Connecting people and companies to the missions of these organizations makes not only social sense, but can translate into economic outcomes," she says.
Despite the economic setbacks of recent years, social innovations continue to thrive. The Nonprofit Almanac of 2011 acknowledges 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States—they are responsible for as much as five percent of GDP (source: National Center for Charitable Statistics). The Philadelphia region alone has over 15,000 nonprofit organizations employing 242,000 people and furnishing $11 billion in annual wages (Source: Philadelphia Foundation).
It was passionate PSIJ readers that inspired Hansen-Turton and Torres. In three years of quarterly publication, the pair has taken hundreds of phone calls from social innovation enthusiasts seeking input on their ideas. The pair partnered with Penn’s Fels Institute of Government (where they are adjunct faculty), PennDesign and PennPraxis. The first batch of accepted proposals were largely from Penn students, faculty and staff, and focused on health, education, and arts and culture.
In 2010, 26 percent of Americans over age 16 volunteered for a nonprofit (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics). Locally, a new generation of visionaries—including Young Involved Philly and Philly Stake—prove our will is stronger than ever. "[Social innovation] is the foundation of America and our future," says Hansen-Turton. "We need to support [their leaders] with the tools and techniques that is afforded the private sector."

Source: Tine Hansen-Turton, Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab
Writer: Dana Henry

Job Alert: Philly's talent pool lures Yorn from Conshohocken

Establishing a quality reputation in the age of social media is a challenge. It takes just one irate customer to drag down a Yelp profile and leave a permanent stain on a virtual record.  

For businesses trapped in twitter-roulette, Yorn (Your Opinion Right Now) circumvents the online commotion with real time customer feedback. The two-year-old company is doubling business every quarter, recently reaching 2,000 accounts including Deutsche Bank, Intuit, UPS, Cisco and Stanley Black and Decker. The good news is they’ve also moved to Philly. 

Unofficially, the company left Conshohocken for 24th and Chestnut Streets in October, but they plan to open the doors of the new office before the end of 2012. Yorn recently added seven employees (rounding out a core team of twelve) and seeks additional leadership in software development, marketing and product management.
Rick Rasansky, founder and CEO, refers to the company's product as "the anti-social network to a certain degree," but it could also be considered an antidote: When experiencing a problem, today’s constomer consults their computer in lieu of confronting the manager. Yorn mends the broken channel for businesses, coneferneces, hospitals, and hotels with a unique URL or QR-code. Customers access the code--displayed on cards, posters and other promotional materials--and receive a temporary app to send comments and ratings directly to the owner.
Rasansky says he scouted a location near two prime clients: Drexel and Penn. Of course, the spot also provides access to another resource—"The base of talent that we’re going after is absolutely centered in here in Center City," he says. "Not to put down Conshohocken, but the action is here in Philly."

Source: Rick Rasansky, Yorn
Writer: Dana Henry

Coworking News: CultureWorks fills a gap in Philly's creative economy

From incubators to venture capital funds, the term “scalability” is used tirelessly to describe startup potential. Yet for Thaddeus Squire, founder and managing director of CultureWorks (formerly Peregrine Arts), value isn't determined by size. "There needs to be space to talk about small and non-scale enterprise and its contribution to the economy," he argues.
Foundation money is tight, Squire admits, but Philly’s "huge startup energy," plethora of arts resources and the timeless "human urge to create" continue to push experimental arts forward. Just two months after officially adding coworking to their programing list, CultureWorks has filled 73 seats—over a third of capacity—with freelancers and individuals representing a slate of new and mid-development organizations, including Recycled Artists In Residency, Next American City and Alchemy Dance Company.
CultureWorks—which outsources management services and helped buoy the development of Hidden City—has been increasingly approached by emerging creators who seek support but can’t purchase the full program. Squire sees coworking as a solution: Build a home base for makers, artists, architects and designers—alongside the curators, publicists, lawyers and marketing experts who support them—and Philadelphia’s collective creativity continues down the path to prosperity.
"It’s the same idea that the VC and startup community has," explains Squire. "You want to see a lot of churn of ideas because every tenth idea might be a real game changer."
Squire believes his space is outside the coworking bubble (new Philly spaces include Venturef0rth, the South Philly Co-op Workshop, Paper Box Studios and Benjamin’s Desk) because it’s geared towards the nonprofit realm. While championing the value of small, he is certainly not shy about CultureWorks' capacity for growth. "We want to prove that this model will work," he says. "The intention beyond that might be to franchise into other cities."

Source: Thaddeus Squire, CultureWorks
Writer: Dana Henry

On the Move: DMG CTRL heads to a larger space

The Old City-based software company DMG CTRL (Damage Control) has outgrown its 2,200 square foot office above Indy Hall. With twenty employees, many hired through apprenticeships, DMG CTRL has doubled its staff in the last year. On Monday, December 3, the company moved to a 5,000-square-foot space on N. 5th Street. At their current growth-rate, Jason Allum, the company’s cofounder, expects them to fill the space over the next few years.
The new address will include a classroom, a conference room, a kitchen and more windows as well as ping pong, a pool table and a beer keg. That may sound more clubhouse than growing company, but Allum—who was hired as a software engineer at age 16—says employees don’t hate coming to work. 

"A lot of this space is built to facilitate communication," he says. "It’s a very sedentary job, so you have to have dedicated space for play."  
A 2012 study by AIG Consulting found that 68 percent of software companies surveyed had more failed projects than successful ones. DMG CTRL often rewrites broken software from larger companies. Allum says his company has built over a hundred products and only two had less-than-optimal results. He attributes the company’s phenomenal success rate to the “collective intelligence” of his team. Each project item is tracked using revision control software and every piece of code is peer reviewed. Employees sit at shared tables and are encouraged to move around.
"It takes a fairly anti-social group of people—nerds—and makes them talk to each other," says Allum. "Everything is done by somebody and checked by somebody else. If you’re reviewing my code and I have more experience, you have a chance to learn my tricks. People are allowed the freedom to fail which is huge."
Allum was a founding member and initial financer of Indy Hall. Shortly after launch, Allum and cofounder, Mac Morgan, posted a Craigslist ad calling for a "minion." He hired a cellphone salesman with no background in computers. The new employee was given menial tasks—stuff Allum didn’t want to pay experienced professionals to do—and progressively moved to more challenging ones. Today that former minion writes software for the products he used to sell.

Since then, DMG CTRL has hired a waitress, a warehouse employee, several Art Institute graduates, retail personnel and a "Russian math wiz." They also get regular visits from a 78-year-old chemist who is learning to write code.
"We let people float through the orbit," explains Allum. "If it works out we’ll hire them. I’m a firm believer that there’s way more people who can do this stuff than know they can do this stuff—or that the world would allow to do this stuff."

Source:Jason Allums, DMG CTRL
Writer: Dana Henry

Open for Business: Drexel's ExCITe Center launches in University City

It’s not every day a plainclothes professional opera singer performs to the hum of industrial knitting machines. Nonetheless, it was the perfect display of synergy for the opening ceremony of Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center at the University City Science Center. Held on Wednesday, November 28, the celebration showcased surprising STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) combinations and permutations.

"In academia, it’s hard to collaborate outside your department," says Dr. Youngmoo Kim, director of the ExCITe center and professor of computer engineering at Drexel. "The whole purpose [of ExCITe] is to create multidisciplinary projects at this nexus between technology and the arts. There’s so much synergy there."

The 11,000-square-foot facility features conference rooms, countless desktops, sound equipment and a knit lab, all available to Drexel faculty, staff and students, regional partner institutions and other universities. The space will host hackathons and other tech and arts related events.

Opening demos included an app for understanding live classical music and a digitally-enhanced grand piano. ExCITe also houses and provides seed funds to three startup projects: a Microsoft Kinect therapy game for people with cerebral palsy; a virtual reality opera project made in partnership with the Philadelphia Opera Company; and Sonic City, a Breadboard project incorporating city sounds into musical pieces.

The Shima Seiki Haute Technology Knit Lab houses four top grade fabric machines, a donation from Shima Seiki Manufacturing in Japan worth $1 millon. The facility is unheard of in academia and, according to Kim, rivals Nike’s Design Lab. Each apparatus prints items designed on CAD software; during the grand opening event, the machines produced knit kitchen gloves, custom seamless dresses and three-ply blankets.  

A knit-bot machine prints three-dimensional fabrics complete with electronic sensors. At the opening, a staff member hooked a spiraled piece of fabric into a control system and rolled it across the table remotely. Observers seemed impressed by the novelty, but Kim says knit-bot technology has implications for the future: One day you might be able to change the color and cut of your shirt with the press of a button, and sensors-enhanced fabrics could help individuals monitor health and weight. In addition, skins from these textiles could make plastic robots more resilient, while external sensors could help disaster-relief androids respond immediately to challenging environments.

Kim runs Drexel's Music Entertainment Technology Labratory, home to robots that dance and play music. He conceived of the center nearly two years ago while holding cross-departmental faculty meetings as a solution to academic silos. It wasn’t long before other key local institutions, including the Science Center, the Philadelphia Opera Company and the Franklin Institute, joined the planning.

"We can do great things here with Drexel folks, but there’s great people with ideas at Penn, UArts, Philadelphia University, Temple and Swarthmore," says  Kim. “They’re people that we know. A lot of people throughout the region, not just in academia, helped shape this."

Source: Youngmoo Kim, Drexel ExCITe
Writer: Dana Henry

Update: NextFab's Washington Avenue grand opening rescheduled for Jan. 17

Washington Avenue West—the gritty home to plumbers, mechanics and supply outlets—is the new landing spot for Philly’s next generation of fabricators. After months of construction, NextFab Studio is set to reopen in a 21,000-square-foot workspace nearly five times the size of their former University City location. Unfortunately, due to some delays, the grand opening celebration has been moved to January 17, 2012.

NextFab has helped springboard a local ecosystem of high-tech creative entrepreneurship, a community that now includes Breadboard Philly and Drexel’s ExCITe. In addition to readily available 3D printers, laser cutters and robotics paraphernalia, Philly’s “Gym for Innovators” will now feature a loading dock, a crane, an industrial textile machine and an auto lift. Stay tuned for more information on their new facilities and grand opening party.

Source: NextFab
Writer: Dana Henry

Founder Factory: It's a great time to start a business in Philadelphia

Now is a great time to start a business in Philly: Philadelphia Startup Leaders has steadily grown to 1,800 members and launched PSL University, The City gained its first seed fund and an Office of New Urban Mechanics, and First Round Capital is taking lead in bringing more VC’s back inside our urban boundaries. The upcoming PSL Founder Factory—at World Café Live on Thursday, Nov. 15—will prime entrepreneurs with true-to-life lessons from exemplary risk takers.

“There are similar challenges that companies at any stage face,” Gloria Bell, event organizer for PSL and founder of Red Stapler Consulting, says. “Each year we have focused on a different aspect of building and running a startup using the collective wisdom of local entrepreneurs.”

Previous Founders Factories helped hopefuls polish their pitches and investor sweet talk.  This year, in response to member surveys and talk-list discussions, PSL broadens the programing, hosting talks from a diverse range of experienced local entrepreneurs—Leadnomics, PTM Solutions and Chariot Solutions, are represented—followed by workshops and small group discussions. Topics cover the essentials including customer development, internal metrics, and company culture.  Josh Kopelman of First Round and Michael Golden, co-founder of GSI Commerce and president and founder of ShopRunner, are the keynote speakers and will share the changing realities of entrepreneurship.  Hint: Kopelman, an accomplished Wharton grad and founder of successful tech ventures including Half.com, recently moved First Round near two of Philly’s thriving universities. It’s a sign of things to come.

 “There has been such tremendous growth in the startup community,” Bell says. “The recognition of business and city government of the contribution of the startup community to the overall economic health of the region has been a strong motivator. The area's entrepreneurs are well-equipped to build strong, sustainable, profitable companies."

Source: Gloria Bell, Philly Starup Leaders
Writer: Dana Henry

How our startup community got a $3 million seed fund from the City of Philadelphia

In the fall of 2011, leadership from Philly Startup Leaders and Ben Franklin Technology Partners began meeting with  Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies, and officials from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and The Mayors Office. Despite seemingly different agendas, the group collaborated around a shared interest: How do we keep promising companies in Philadelphia?
A year later, this working group drafted a Request For Proposal now known as Startup PHL. No one doubted the increased momentum of the past five years--Philly has a growing number of talented risk-takers, coworking spaces, incubators and organizations supporting entrepreneurship. New businesses, particularly tech businesses, are successfully launching.
"This isn't about the city stepping in to fix something that's broken," Bob Moul, head of Philly Startup Leaders and CEO of AppReniassance says. "Here's a sector that's been really self-sufficient and grassroots. The city would like to see that be consistent and happen on a regular basis."
Unfortunately, many of these promising startups continue to leave for New York and other cities where they can secure investment.
"The lack of early seed stage capital has had a definite impact on the region," Moul says. "If we're not careful, Philly's going to become known as a great catalyst but a net exporter of great opportunities."
At the Mayor's request, the group began a due diligence process using NYC Seed as an example. The City is currently accepting bids on Startup PHL from venture capitalists and expects to announce the fund's manager mid-December.
Integral to the $3 million seed fund, Startup PHL's challenge fund is a public request for structural recommendations to encourage continued startup growth. Areas of interest include collaboration between supporting organizations, integration of universities and emerging business, and connection between suburban early stage companies and urban startups. Moul advocates subsidized space to foster entrepreneurship.

In 2008, NYC Seed was New York City's first venture fund. Now they have over 20. Starting with the same amount of money, NYC Seed was picked up by University City-based First Round Capital, which added $19 million. Moul believes Philly can grow $15-$20 million.

"If we can pick the winning companies and keep them in Philadelphia, the net impact in three to five years is going to be significant, Moul says.
According to Moul, Startup PHL ultimatly began with the Mayor's growing recognition of the startup community.
"In the last year we've really turned a corner," Moul says. "All these [startup] organizations were running their own missions, and doing their own plans. What I've seen in the past year or two is a willingness to gather around a table, collaborate and leverage our combined resources. The city saw that."

Source: Bob Moul, Philly Startup Leaders
Writer: Dana Henry

Roots of innovation planted with 15 new Philly Fellows

Literacy, health, poverty, and the greening of the city. It's all in a year's work for the newest recruits to Philly Fellows. Now heading into its seventh session, Philly Fellows was founded by two Haverford College grads with a dual mission: to support recent college graduates as well as urban change.
Philly Fellows just announced its newest class of 15, to begin a one year program of service to the city July 30 in cultural, educational and social-service organizations including Philadelphia Youth Network, Project HOME, Calcutta House, Fleisher Art Memorial, and The Pennsylvania Health Law Project. Co-founder Tim Ifill reports that Philly Fellows received a total of 123 applications for the 2012 class.
Each Fellow receives $12,191 for the year, health insurance,student loan forbearance, a transportation allowance and a $5,350 education award, all through the AmeriCorps*VISTA program. 
They're either graduates of local colleges, primarily Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania, or they grew up in the Delaware Valley and attended schools outside the local area.
It's a real world Real World. A gentle extension of college life, each participant commits to 40 hour work weeks at a non-profit, sharing co-ed quarters with 4 to 6 others in one of three group houses located in West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, or Northern Liberties.

"About two-thirds of our graduates end up staying in Philly, and a handful are hired by their host agencies," reports Ifill, who counts a total of 102 alums, with 16 more graduating from the 2011 program at the end of this month. Erika Slaymaker, who worked at Project HOME this year, says. "I am staying on next year to continue to implement the projects that I started as a Philly Fellow.  Julia Cooper, who is a part of the incoming group of Philly Fellows, will be joining me to create an Environmental Sustainability Team at Project HOME."
The deadline for applications to next year's class is January 2013, and host agency deadline is November 2012.

Source: Tim Ifill, Erika Slaymaker, Philly Fellows
Writer: Sue Spolan

Creative sector jobs, reputation for art growing in Philadelphia

The whole starving artist cliche doesn't fly in Philadelphia. Two releases, one from the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, and another from The Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Board, point to arts as an area of serious growth, and a powerful financial force in the region.
According to the newly released Creative Sector Jobs Report,  new research shows that 48,900 jobs exist in the creative sector, which represents 6.5% of the jobs in Philadelphia.  Creative sector employment grew 6.3% from 2001 to 2011, yielding $5 billion in direct output and $2.7 billion in direct employee earnings.
The GPTMC just launched its new With Art Philadelphia campaign, as well as its annual report, titled "The Art of Collaboration." GPTMC CEO Meryl Levitz reports that the city welcomed a record 38 million visitors in 2011, and will likely see a dramatic increase with the lure of the Barnes. The GPTMC also unveiled its impressive new With Art site which allows visitors to curate their own Philadelphia experience by shopping through the city's arts and culture offerings to create an individualized tour.
"Culture and the creative sector are a critically important part of our city, and a critical creator of jobs," says Gary Steuer, head of the OACCE. "Creative assets are a core reason people visit Philadelphia."
The GPTMC also announced that it has a 75-page spread in the June 2012 US Airways Magazine, highlighting area museums, historical sites, music and public art. "Philly is a city in the throes of artistic revolution," reads one article.
According to the OACCE's Creative Sector report, In 2010 and 2011, research studies ranked Philadelphia 50-70% above the national standard in “creative vitality” using the Creative Vitality Index, a research tool developed by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) to measure the creative health of an area.

Source: Gary Steuer, OACCE, Meryl Levitz, GPTMC
Writer: Sue Spolan
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