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A crime-watch app emerges from Temple's Urban Apps and Maps Studios

Temple University's summertime app-developing program for underserved and minority students, the Urban Maps and Apps Studios, has been active for three seasons now.

The university-wide initiative kicked off in 2012 as part of the school's bitS (Building Information Technology Skills) program, which aims to "engage high school students to examine the communities where they live," according to its website, and to teach those students technology skills that can be applied to problems in their own neighborhoods.
Inside the Urban Apps and Maps Studios, students spend six weeks studying digital design and software application development. The ultimate goal? Design apps that will help tackle community challenges.
One team of 11 students involved in the 2014 summer program has created such an application. Known as Gotcha, the mobile crime-watch app allows users to anonymously post the details of petty neighborhood crimes such as shoplifting, without involving authorities.

Thanks to funding from the Knight Foundation, which will bring a portion of the Gotcha team back during the upcoming academic year to continue its work, the app may eventually become available in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

"There's a big gap of content that's related to -- and designed by -- the very youth that [Urban Apps and Maps] engages," says Temple's Michele Masucci. "And so part of what we're trying to do is to take one of the largest blocks of digital content consumers and turn them into digital content producers." 

"[Apps & Maps] is something the kids really love," she adds. "It's a technology they can carry with them into their futures, whether they decide to go to school, or to take more of an entrepreneurial turn. We're trying to address the interest and need that the students have."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Michele Masucci, Temple University

A design challenge brings nation's first mental health screening kiosk to Philadelphia

Many people have had the experience of killing time at a neighborhood pharmacy by checking their vitals at a blood pressure kiosk. But now, at a QCare clinic located inside an East Falls grocery store, customers can take advantage of the very first kiosk in the nation screening exclusively for behavioral and mental health issues.
The kiosk was the result of an annual design challenge organized by the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation, a local philanthropic group that works to change how behavioral healthcare is practiced in the Greater Philadelphia area. In 2013, the Foundation's design challenge addressed the stigma of mental health conditions on college campuses. 

Also known as convenient care clinics, the popularity of retail clinics within pharmacies has grown exponentially in recent years. Some experts estimate that as many as 3,000 such clinics will exist nationwide by 2015. And yet nearly all currently exist without the infrastructure to deal with mental health issues.  
The Scattergood Foundation hopes to alter that by bringing its kiosk to other retail clinics in the future. In the meantime, Philadelphians can access the iPad-powered stand at QCare's 2800 Fox Street location, inside ShopRite.   
Gregory Caplan, a foundation project manager, points out that while the results generated from the kiosk don't represent a formal diagnosis, anyone who completes the screening -- the process takes just a minute or two -- will be offered a list of specific mental health resources. To experience the screening online, click here
"The main point [of the kiosk] is to get people to realize that mental health is just as important as physical health," explains Teresa Moore, who also worked on the project.  
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Sources: Gregory Caplan and Teresa Moore, Thomas Scattergood Foundation 


Partial schedule announced for November's 13th annual First Person Arts Festival

It's hard to believe, but Philadelphia's First Person Arts Festival -- a twelve-day-long theater gala known as "the only festival in the world dedicated to memoir and documentary art" -- is about to enter its thirteenth year.
The festival will run November 4 through 15 at four separate venues throughout the city; a portion of the schedule was released last week. The true-life stories shared onstage will come not just from prominent local performers, but also from a number of bold-name celebrities.
Actor Kathryn Erbe of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, for instance, will take part in an onstage reading of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day’s Journey into Night," culminating in a frank audience discussion of themes germane to the play's content. Yowei Shaw, who produces the year-old FPA podcast, will present a live performance. The Obie Award-winning playwright Dael Orlandersmith will stage a reading of her recent memoir, and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson will host a dinner featuring recipes from his latest cookbook.

In short, as FPA executive director Jamie Brunson puts it, "There’s no other festival out there quite like it."
When Vicki Solot founded FPA in 2000, "she saw the rising interest in memoir and documentary art as a way to foster appreciation among diverse communities for our shared experiences," explains Brunson. Throughout FPA's history, "the festival has always had [a sense of] consciousness about it," she adds.
Visit the FPA website for scheduling updates -- Brunson promises a few surprises as the festival date draws nearer -- and to purchase tickets once they become available.
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Jamie J. Brunson, First Person Arts

Replica Creative hosts early-morning lecture series with an artistic bent

In mid-May, Flying Kite brought you the story of Creative Mornings, a wildly popular breakfast lecture series that had finally launched a Philadelphia chapter. (The most recent event featured a talk by The Heads of State, a local design team.)

Now comes news that Creative Cafe at Replica, a print and design firm/coffee shop in University City, has teamed up with Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) to offer an early-morning monthly lecture series of its own.

Known as the Creative Cafe Coffee Chats, the events run from 8 - 9 a.m. on the last Monday of each month, and feature five-minute "flash talks" from four presenters. Twenty minutes of intimate conversation follow the talks. And because attendance at each event is capped at just 15 people, the hope is that attendees will walk away with the feeling that they've genuinely learned something new.
Not unlike Creative Mornings, each Coffee Chat is organized around a specific theme. June's inaugural event, for instance, took a look at the state of the creative economy in Philadelphia, and featured speakers including CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia founder Thaddeus Squire and Erica Hawthorne of Small But Mighty Arts, a micro-grant program for early-career artists.  
According to Mike Kaiser of YIP, an all-volunteer group that works to engage young professionals locally, the emphasis of each lecture will revolve around issues and topics that are relevant to Philadelphians today.
"The hope is that this inspires new ideas or a new connection for people," he says. "And that they can leave the event feeling excited as they walk into their day."
Tickets for each Creative Cafe Coffee Chat are $6.25; they can be purchased online.
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Mike Kaiser, Young Involved Philadelphia

Calling Local Artists: Frankford Avenue First Friday Fracas wants your work

In the riverward districts of Fishtown and Kensington, Frankford Avenue First Friday events have been showcasing the area's increasingly extensive creative output for some years. And it's not just the boulevard's art galleries, but also its cafes, eateries and boutiques.
According to Joanna Winchester of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), that creative and economic energy has been steadily inching its way northward along Frankford Avenue over the past few years.

"We've been wanting to put a highlight on some of the newer businesses that are coming in on the northern side of avenue," she says.
At the same time, NKCDC has been keen for local artists to become more involved with the avenue's monthly First Friday events. In an effort to satisfy both those goals, a new-and-improved event was born: the Frankford Avenue First Friday Fracas, which Winchester describes as a fairly typical "art stroll-style event, but with a really energetic twist to it."
On September 5 from 6 to 10 p.m., Frankford Avenue between Susquehanna and Cumberland will be closed to traffic for the street party. "We're hoping to have performers, and food trucks, and artists selling their wares," adds Winchester.
NKCDC is currently soliciting applications from artists who may want to perform or sell their work at the Fracas. And while priority will be given to those from the 19125 and 19134 ZIP codes, anyone is welcome to apply, as long as they meet the August 20 submission deadline.

Applications can be found online at NKCDC.org and FrankfordAveArts.org

Joanna Winchester, NKCDC
Writer: Dan Eldridge

It's Official: Philly is more popular than ever with international visitors

Philadelphia has been one of the country's top travel and tourism destinations for decades. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), which has been marketing the city's bona fides for more than a decade, we've got the credentialed travel statistics to back up our bragging rights.
Philadelphia was recently named the 13th most visited U.S. city by international visitors by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI), which ranks oversees travel statistics annually. According to Danielle Cohn of the PHLCVB, that ranking represents a 13 percent increase over the previous year (when Philadelphia came in 14th).
Those rankings have been tracked locally by the Convention & Visitors Bureau ever since 2002, says Cohn, when Philadelphia was only the country's 21st most visited city among international visitors. It was roughly eight years later, in 2008, when those numbers first began showing a significant increase.
"The momentum we continue to see is really based on new and innovative sales and marketing initiatives that our team has in place," explains Cohn.
One of those initiatives is a new international marketing campaign, "PHL: Here For The Making," which emphasizes the city's business and educational opportunities. And along with reps located in target markets throughout Western Europe, the CVB has lately been paying especially close attention to the emerging BRIC markets.
"I think a lot of times people forget that we're traveling around the world promoting Philadelphia because they don't see it here in their backyard," says Cohn. "But it's a very important part of the city's future."    
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Danielle Cohn, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau 

Cooper's Ferry Partnership wins ArtPlace America grant to expand its Camden Night Gardens initiative

Cooper's Ferry Partnership, an organization that has been working for years to revitalize the city of Camden, was recently awarded a $475,000 grant from ArtPlace America, a group that supports creative placemaking efforts across the country.
According to Cooper's Ferry COO Joe Myers, it was largely the success of last April's Camden Night Gardens initiative -- a multi-disciplinary art festival held at the defunct Riverfront State Prison in North Camden -- that led to the grant.   
"We applied to ArtPlace with the idea of creating [a number of] smaller Camden Night Gardens events," explains Myers. The original event, which attracted roughly 3,000 attendees to the 15-acre former prison site and featured BMX riders and a Camden drill team along with art and music performances, created significant buzz throughout the community. "We wanted to use that as a kind of model to do [similar events] in smaller locations."
Those smaller events will take place somewhere within the North Camden and Cooper-Grant neighborhoods, which were most recently considered for redevelopment in 2008, when Cooper's Ferry released its North Camden Neighborhood and Waterfront Park Plan.
And while Myers says the future events might be similar in style to the original Camden Night Gardens, Cooper's Ferry plans to first spend the next four months consulting with the North Camden community.They hope to learn what local residents liked about the Night Garden, for instance, and get suggestions about underutilized sites that could be repurposed for events.  
Assuming that phase wraps up this fall, "I would hope we would begin the process of laying out new dates for these events," says Myers, "and having a conceptual idea of what they would specifically be."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Joe Myers, Cooper's Ferry Partnership

Get psyched for the 2014 Philadelphia Geek Awards

The nominees for the fourth annual Philadelphia Geek Awards have officially been announced -- there are 38 of them, spread across more than a dozen categories.
And at precisely 8 p.m. on the evening of August 16, the show will commence at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Roughly 400 audience members will be introduced to some of the city's most inspirational and unusual passion projects, many of the extremely geeky sort: comic books, mobile video games, YouTube videos, and odd art and science projects, to name a few.
Come evening's end, one of three nominees will be crowned Philadelphia's Geek of the Year, an honor that in 2013 went to Dan Ueda, who ran the robotics program at Central High School .
All told, the upcoming 2014 Geek Awards are shaping up to be the ultimate celebration of an obsessive subculture that has grown exponentially.

"It isn't really a subculture anymore," says Drexel's Jill Sybesma, the event's organizer. "It's just culture."
The Geek Awards began back in 2011 when Geekadelphia co-founders Eric Smith and Tim Quirino approached Sybesma with the idea to create an award that would match their geeky site. 

"The city really didn't have anything that encompassed all its geeky projects," she recalls.

Indeed, many of this year's nominees are not bold-faced names from the science or tech scenes. The creators of an enormous Rube Goldberg machine, for instance, are up for a 2014 award, as is an artist who creates and installs fake street signs.  
"We say that it doesn't matter what you're geeky about," Sybesma explains. "Just that there's more people doing this now."
Tickets go on sale August 1 at phillygeekawards.com.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Jill Sybesma, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Federal Donuts crew hopes to use leftovers for good

Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov, partners in the ever-expanding Federal Donuts empire, are looking to transform all that leftover chicken into soup, and that soup into meals for the hungry. They have turned to Kickstarter to fund Rooster Soup Co., an innovative new restaurant venture.

According to a story in the Philadelphia City Paper, when the pair opened their first chicken-and-donuts spot in Pennsport (they are also partners in the upscale Israeli eatery Zahav and Percy Street Barbecue), they were frying 15 chickens per day. Now they're going through up to 1,500 across five locations, including one at Citizens Bank Park. 

That leaves them with a lot of Amish-raised, Indiana-bred, free-range, antibiotic-free chicken backs and necks -- the perfect thing to make soup.

Now they have teamed up with pastor Bill Golderer of Broad Street Ministries to kill two birds with one stone, if you will. The plan is to open a Center City restaurant serving chicken soup made using the stock from those leftover parts. The innovative part is the business model: Rooster Soup Co. will be a nonprofit restaurant with the proceeds benefiting Broad Street Ministries' hospitality services. 

Click here to check out their Kickstarter campaign; they've already raised over $114,000 as of this writing.

In other news, Federal Donuts is currently scouting locations in Washington, D.C.

Writer: Lee Stabert

Pennsylvania wins a Silver Shovel Award for the second year in a row

For the second time in two years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been honored with a Silver Shovel Award from Area Development magazine, a site selection trade publication that annually recognizes the most economically significantly industrial development projects in the nation.
Two of the 10 Pennsylvania-based projects recognized this year are located in the state's southeastern corner.
Included in the magazine's 2014 list was the upcoming expansion of Urban Outfitters' corporate headquarters in South Philadelphia's Navy Yard and the direct-to-consumer fulfillment center the company is developing in the Lancaster County town of Gap.
Along with the 2,500 jobs those two projects will create -- 2,000 of them in Philadelphia -- the capital investment outlay from Urban Outfitters is expected to exceed $200,000,000.     
Also recognized were two new development projects from Axalta, a liquid and powder coatings enterprise. The company broke ground on a new manufacturing facility in Glen Mills and recently moved into a new global headquarters building in Center City. An investment of approximately $11,000,000 and 332 new jobs are the expected results of those projects.
According to Steven Kratz of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Governor Corbett's office is especially pleased that a total of 11 different counties are represented in the 10 industrial and commercial development projects that led to the state's Silver Shovel Award.

"That shows that it's not just one area of Pennsylvania that's seeing growth," he says. "But really, at the end of the day, this means our economy is growing and it means new jobs are being created. And that's more significant than any award."
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Steven Kratz, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development

CultureWorks offers R-Health's direct primary care plans to its coworking members

Ask just about any self-employed professional to discuss the benefit they miss most from their salaried days and you're likely to get an earful about the trials and tribulations of individual health insurance plans.  
The data from Pew Charitable Trusts' most recent "State of the City" report pegs the number of freelancing Philadelphians at just north of 46,000. That's a fairly sizable group of workers, many of whom have had to navigate the frustrating world of health coverage all on their own.   
But for the self-employed pros who rent coworking space from CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia, the individual health coverage maze has become much simpler. Those members can now take advantage of a collaboration between CultureWorks and R-Health, a direct primary care provider Flying Kite covered this past February. In March, the Center City coworking space Benjamin's Desk also began offering R-Health plans to its members.  
Simply put, the main benefits of the increasingly popular direct primary care model -- in which insurance plans aren't accepted -- involve lengthier doctor-patient interactions and, in many cases, lower fees. CultureWorks' coworking members who sign up with the care provider will receive one free month of R-Health membership and a reduced ongoing rate.   
"We try to work with local organizations that have something to offer that would be helpful to our membership," says CultureWorks coworking manager Zach Lifton, "things that make people's lives easy."

Other perks for coworkers include discounted ZipCar rentals, and health club and farm share memberships.     
"The idea is that we're here to support people and not overcomplicate what they actually want to be doing," explains Lifton. "R-Health is one of those things that's easily understood, and it has the potential to work very well with the types of people who are here."
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Zach Lifton, CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Biomeme has growth in its DNA

Growth appears to be in the DNA of Biomeme, a Philadelphia startup. In only a year, the company has raised significant funding, tripled its staff and is moving to larger offices. 

Biomeme "enables anyone to do mobile real-time DNA analysis on a smartphone," explains co-founder Max Perelman. The company makes kits, hardware and software allowing users to easily isolate DNA from a variety of sample types (including blood, water and urine) without the need for lab equipment, and to look for unique DNA signatures of specific targets of interest such as Flu A, E. coli 0157 or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Perelman, Jesse vanWestrienen and Marc DeJohn moved to Philadelphia last spring from New Mexico and California to participate in the DreamIt Health accelerator. From there, Biomeme went to Philadelphia’s NextFab to participate in its residency program and ramp up prototyping and low-volume manufacturing; they were the first company to utilize the partnership between Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) and NextFab. 

Now, with a workforce of 14 (including full-timers, interns and co-op students), Biomeme is moving again into a larger facility featuring lab and manufacturing space on North 3rd Street, a burgeoning tech hub officially dubbed N3RD -- pronounced "Nerd" -- Street by the city.

Markets include test developers and consumers, "anyone," explains Perelman, "who wants a DNA lab in the palm of their hand." Biomeme has successfully completed a number of validation studies with third party laboratories and is preparing a number of developer tools for limited release this year with plans to roll out its STI test panel internationally in 2015. 

Biomeme has raised $1.9 million in seed financing, including $400,000 from BFTP/SEP.

Source: Max Perelman, Biomeme
Writer: Elise Vider

ArtWell's influence grows thanks to an Impact100 grant

ArtWell, a relatively unknown but extremely high-impact arts education organization, has been awarded a $100,000 grant to expand its Art of Growing Leaders curriculum, which will be offered in dozens of Philadelphia-area public schools. The grant came from Impact100, a charitable group that funds programs reaching underserved populations.    
Founded in 2001 by executive director and ordained minister Susan Teegen-Case, ArtWell was launched in an effort to battle chronic community violence in the city through arts-oriented educational programs. The organization’s highly-regarded Art of Growing Up curriculum was created eight years ago by program director Julia Terry, who had studied rites of passage traditions in Ghana when she was a study-abroad student.   
During her research, Terry became intrigued by the fact that so many of the world’s cultures have traditions meant to guide young people through the transition from childhood to young adulthood. After joining Artwell, she created The Art of Growing Up as a means to expose Philadelphia’s students to the lessons a rite of passage tradition teaches. The semester-long program includes anti-violence curriculum, poetry and drama workshops, and visual arts classes.  
"We've had the experience of schools wanting us to stay longer, and students wanting to do [the program] again," explains Terry. "But we've never had the funding to extend our relationships and deepen our impact."
Thanks to the Impact100 grant, the program will evolve into a year-long experience known as the Art of Growing Leaders. The expanded curriculum will give students an expansive definition of what it means to be a leader, "so that kids can identify all the possibilities for themselves to be leaders," says Terry.
According to Teegen-Case, community leaders in Chester and in Camden, N.J., have also expressed interest in bringing the program to schools in their areas.
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Susan Teegen-Case and Julia Terry, ArtWell

Next City launches a job listings site for the urban affairs crowd

Originally a highly-regarded print magazine for the city planning and urban issues set known as The Next American City, the Philadelphia-based publication Next City has grown its influence substantially since becoming an online-only outlet three years ago.
Today, Next City features daily coverage of international public policy, infrastructure and economic development. It also publishes Forefront, a news and analysis newsletter. And for five years Next City has produced a popular annual conference, Vanguard, which attracts young urban leaders from around the country.
In mid-June, the site’s editorial staff announced its latest project: a national job search engine, Next City Jobs, which lists open positions in the urban development and civic engagement sectors.  
"I think Next City has always informally served as a convener for people in the urban affairs field," says Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief Diana Lind. "We've decided to take on more of a role as a professional development leader within the field, so the jobs page is one step in that direction."
Though it went live just weeks ago, Next City Jobs is already displaying more than 6,600 available positions. And while many of those listings were aggregated from other sites, Lind says her staff is taking steps to increase the percentage of jobs exclusive to Next City’s portal.  
Lind also hopes to increase the diversity of positions offered.

"The idea is to reflect the cross-discipline approach that Next City has in its content," says Lind. "So you'll have everything from a job for a transportation planner to a public policy expert at a for-profit [company]. Our hope is that it'll become a site people will be looking at every single day, or every week, depending on how [seriously] they’re looking for a job."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Diana Lind, Next City


Conshohocken's Zuppler changes the way we order from restaurants

When Conshohocken entrepreneur and former IT consultant Shiva Srinivasan founded the mobile-based technology company Zuppler back in 2009, the practice of ordering food from restaurants online was still in its infancy.
Nevertheless, Zuppler's service, which allows restaurants to customize their online ordering menus, was a fast success. It wasn't long, in fact, before the company was servicing some 4,500 restaurants worldwide, and thousands of hotels in the United States began using the Zuppler platform to expedite room service ordering.
But in the all-mobile, all-the-time retail environment of 2014, tech-savvy restaurateurs want something more than just a customizable and fully-integrated online ordering solution. They also want a way for their customers to pay online, preferably through a mobile interface.
So Zuppler recently joined forces with LevelUp, a Boston-based tech firm. The self-described "largest mobile payment network in the nation" offers extensively trackable marketing campaigns along with its payment-processing system.
Now restaurants using the Zuppler interface can access extensive customer reporting analytics, "so it's a way for them to take control of their online business, and to take advantage of it," explains Srinivasan.
Zuppler's analytics interface even provides users with a heat map showing exactly where its customer base is grouped. And along with 24-7 customer service and support, Zuppler's beefed-up system can offer coupons and loyalty rewards, which customers can redeem while paying for food on a restaurant's website, all of which are mobile responsive.
Together, Zuppler and LevelUp now service "more than 18,000 restaurants and over 2 million customers combined," according to a release.
"But the most important fact," says Srinivasan, "is that for restaurants that use our service, they own their customers."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Shiva Srinivasan, Zuppler
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