By all accounts, the fully revamped State of Young Philly 2012
was a breakout success. From the 12 events that sold out at more than 75 attendees apiece, to the closeout dance party where local leaders and dedicated volunteers partook in the Electric Slide, Young Involved Philadelphia
(YIP) proved it could pull off a civic-advocacy conference that was bigger, livelier and more ambitious than any seen in Philly to date.
“It’s that whimsical optimism you have when you’re young,” Sophia Hwang, Outreach Coordinator of YIP, says. “But [YIP] is also rooted in doing good work.”
Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims came by Hamilton Hall at University of the Arts
for Saturday’s closing ceremony to commend YIP. He encouraged everyone in the audience, which he recognized as Philadelphia’s rising leadership, to run for political office.
SYOP’s greatest achievement, however, may have been the launch of three projects, winners of the culminating YIP Challenge: It’s My Life in the education track, OKWork!Philly in the economy track and Bike Generator Demonstrator in the sustainability track. All three received $1,000 seed money and YIP will continue to provide them with networking and public relations assistance.
Lawanda Horton Sauter, CEO of Mission Incorporated,
will pilot It’s My Life at four area high schools and help students use live theater to safely practice situation related to their sexual health. Sauter was inspired by her young, HIV-positive client and has been researching staggering realities of rising STD rates among youth.
“[The YIP Challenge] really encourages the next generation of social entrepreneurs to do things that impact the community instead of just worrying about the bottom line for their companies,” Sauter says. “[YIP] made this possible by opening it up to so many people regardless of what their ‘connections’ were.”
OKWork!Philly was created by four UPenn recent graduates—David Wengert, Anne Misak, Maurie Smith and Elizabeth Frantz—three of which are currently seeking employment. Their concept harnesses the networking power of LinkedIn to create a more effective web platform for local hiring.
“It benefits Philly to have jobs filled faster,” Misak says. “We want one central place where you can see a job posting, apply directly through the website and then see who in your network is connected to the employer and ask them to write a personalized recommendation. [OKWork!Philly] will save time and money on both the employer side and job seekers side.”
Aaron Roche, a structural engineer who graduated from Drexel, met recent transplant, Becky Schwartz, during SYOP’s Sustainability 101 event. Together they teamed up with Matt Weaver to develop Bike Generator Demonstrator, a design project that powers light bulbs and small electronic appliances using human-power generated from a bicycle.
“One of our goals is to generate interest in energy efficiency,” Roche says. “How can these common appliances be powered in such a simple way?”
According to Hwang, it takes just one voice to start an avalanche of change: “A single individual came to State of Young Philly last year and said, ‘it was good but not good enough.’ We met with him, had coffee, and this [year’s programming] was what we did. We’re young, we’re nimble, we’re flexible, so if you have an idea, let’s run with it.” Hwang says.
As noted by YIP’s board chair, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Philadelphia now retains twice the local university graduates it did a decade ago and offers an increasing number of “friends of” groups connected to YIP. SYOP 2012 may be a sample of what YIP will show us for years to come.
Sophia Hwang, Rudy Flesher, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia