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Ridaroo partners with PECO/Exelon to offer secure carpooling

Boom: Ridaroo is running with the big boys now. The two-year old company has partnered with PECO/Exelon to launch a secure enterprise-wide ride-sharing program. The bootstrapped startup, which comes out of Drexel's Baiada Institute, has been working on a program to match drivers with riders within a specific organization.
Ridaroo will even tell carpoolers if there are discounts and deals along the route.
Andy Guy and Aksel Gungor, both former Drexel students, built the firewalled program to stand out from traditional ride boards by building in a new level of trust. Each organization has its own online ride board, separate from all the others, so that employees don't have to take a risk in order to go green on the road.
Gungor recalls that as an undergrad at Drexel, there was a bulletin board in the hall where, like at most colleges, people posted notes about rides offered and needed. The Career Services department would manually copy down each post and email it to students.

"I had an internship to which I had to take a bus. I ended up carpooling by default,"says Gungor. "There had to be a better, more efficient way of doing it. Fast forward to Andy and me sitting down and working on it. We set up a private website for different organizations."
The beta version, which was open to all college students in Philadelphia, led to the new corporate version. Integrating social media tools, Ridaroo allows PECO employees to log in and create trips limited to PECO staff. Andy Guy created an automatically generated matching system which screens for preferences like distance, time, number of available seats, pick up location, and even smoking or non-smoking.
Gungor says companies like PECO can offer the Ridaroo service as an employee benefit, and the bill goes to the employer. "It's a pure sustainability play. We calculate all the emissions and the analytics behind that." Not only do employees save hundreds of dollars per year, but companies can earn LEED points via collected Ridaroo data.
Gungor says Ridaroo isn't seeking outside funding at this time; rather, he and Guy are focused on growing with the revenue generated by enterprise solutions. Current partnerships (including another with the law firm Morgan Lewis) will help Ridaroo scale quickly, which will lead to hiring. At that point, the team will look at raising a small round. 
And that whole boom thing? "Andy and I always joke around. When something good happens, we say, 'boom,' that just got done."

Source: Aksel Gungor, Ridaroo
Writer: Sue Spolan

Educational strength in numbers: The School Collective connects teachers with good ideas, hiring

There's a lot of talk about technology and education, but most of the time, the conversation is about individual schools implementing technology. In the case of The School Collective, a social entrepreneurship startup based in Philadelphia, technology becomes a way to link and improve all schools at once.
Sebastian Stoddart, one of the co-founders, says "We originally came up with the idea at Oxford University. Alyson Goodner and I were both studying for our MBA. The education problem is bigger than just one issue. We identified an element of the education world where we can actually make a difference." 
The School Collective joins teachers across schools through a website where educators can share best practices through lesson plans, materials, and instant communication. Currently there are over 1,700 members sharing nearly 21,000 documents and over 36 thousand lesson plans.
Stoddart, who remains in the UK but visits town 3 to 4 times a year, says it was Goodner's enthusiasm and energy that drew him into the project. "She's incredibly passionate. It's her one focus and one mission. From my standpoint, it's a real chance to use innovation to improve education. It's an opportunity to reshape an existing model that isn't working."
Coming from one of the most venerated learning institutions in the world doesn't hurt. "One thing you get from Oxford is a hands on teaching style," says Stoddard. "You work directly with a tutor, and there are 2 to 3 other people in the room. The difference of that model to Philadelphia education is huge. Oxford is an incredible education, and it gives you a massive desire to give that education as well."
Goodner adds, "I am not British. I was born here in Philly, and ended up at Oxford, a place where people gather to talk about global change. Here in Philadelphia we get a fairly bad rap. People say, education reform here in Philly? Good luck with that. But there has been movement. There are amazing people doing reform work in Philly."
The School Collective, says Goodner, gathers revenue via a freemium model. Teachers sign up for free or pay $5 per month to access the full functionality of the site. Organizations can also subscribe to the site using a tiered model.
"The School Collective is built to give benefit to every user on the site," says Stoddard, who compares traditional teaching tools that are brought in by the principal, but offer no benefit to the teacher, "From the beginning we wanted this to be something teachers would want to be on."
An essential key to The School Collective's success is Goodner and Stoddart's professional development package, their hands on approach to teaching teachers. During a 10-hour workshop, The School Collective shows educators take the time to visit schools in person and explain exactly how to use the tools, resulting in a 98% acceptance rate.
With this level of success, expansion is on the agenda, although it would be difficult to replicate an Oxford-educated team. "We are looking to bring on a person full time similar to what I am doing, and a full time developer on Sebastian's side to build a team in Philadelphia," says Goodner, who plans on tapping into former Teach For America participants to find the right fit.
Currently, The School Collective serves a diverse roster of Philadelphia schools, including The William Penn Charter School, Stepping Stones, and The School District of Philadelphia. The plan is to expand to include parents and students, and to extend The School Collective's reach to neighboring states. 

Source: Alyson Goodner, Sebastian Stoddart, The School Collective
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly as a model for social entrepreneurship examined as part of The New Capitalist Junto

Getting paid for paying it forward is the future of social change. Last Wednesday (June 6), Good Company Ventures hosted The New Capitalist Junto.

In the high-rise offices at 1650 Arch, formerly known as The Green Village, around 220 attendees gathered to consider the task of making Philadelphia a center for new capitalism. Based on the book The New Capitalist Manifesto written by Umair Haque, the business philosophy embraces sustainability, non-violence, equity and improving quality of life.
"Philadelphia has all of the infrastructure, in institutions, talent and beyond, to be a global leader in social entrepreneurship," says Technically Philly's Christopher Wink, one of the night's top rated speakers. "The intractable legacy problems we have in our big, old, industrial city, mean that this is among the most meaningful places in the world to confront the challenges that we need to solve most -- education inequality, crime, violence, drugs, poverty, joblessness and the like."
Joined by Mayor Michael Nutter and 25 local organizations from all corners of business and civic life including Robin Hood Ventures, EEB Hub and NextFab Studio, the goal, says Wink, "is to get a broad coalition and conversation happening around the region being a relevant, sensible and powerful hub for mission-minded ventures."
Good Company's Zoe Seltzer says, "It was a nice mix of engaged, yet wanting more.  Venture types curious about the social stuff and social types wanting us to reach further. As long as we have this diverse group talking, we've made a good start."

The idea of the Junto originated in Philadelphia in 1727, and was defined as a club for mutual improvement. P'unk Avenue, one of the evening's participants, has hosted a monthly junto for about 2 years.

Source: Christopher Wink, Zoe Seltzer, The New Capitalist Junto
Writer: Sue Spolan

'Twive and Receive' fundraiser for TechGirlz on June 14

A one day only fundraiser for TechGirlz will take place June 14. The local nonprofit, dedicated to training middle and high school students for jobs in technology, is Philadelphia's entry in Give Across America through the Twive and Receive campaign. 
Gloria Bell, who chose the organization for the competition, says, "TechGirlz gets all of the money we raise and if they are in the top three fundraising cities, they get an additional amount, $5,000 for third place, $10,000 for second place or $15,000 for first place, on top of what we raise."
Here's the setup: donate $10 and then encourage 10 friends to donate as well through social media. Bell has written suggested tweets, so it's a no-brainer to participate.
TechGirlz, with the mission of empowering girls to be future technology leaders, has a year round calendar, and is running a one week Entrepreneur Summer Camp for middle school girls the week of July 9, where each student has a chance to create a startup in a hackathon setting. The program is in conjunction with DreamIt Ventures and Startup Corps
Tracey Welson-Rossman, a female tech star in her own right, founded TechGirlz, and has since welcomed Kerry Rupp, Yasmine Mustafa, Jane Frankel, Neelan Choski, Anita Garimella Andrews, Christian Kunkel, Karen Stellabotte, Skip Shuda and Joyce Akiko to the leadership team.

"Curiosity and research led me down the path to find where I hypothesize it begins - at high school, specifically 9th grade.  Studies show that girls at that age self-select out of technology learning because they do not understand what a career in tech can be.  They see the stereotypes in the media of nerdy white males who work in cubicles and are not creative or collaborative," says Welson-Rossman. "We know that is not the case.  TechGirlz wants to show the depth and breadth of what technology can offer.  We also want to represent what the folks in tech actually look like - men and women."
TechGirlz hosts regular workshops to teach girls a wide range of skills including programming, web design, podcasting,3D printing and animation. Welson-Rossman also reports that TechGirlz is at a point where it will soon be hiring staff to help the organization grow and to track participants' progress.

Source: Gloria Bell, Tracey Welson-Rossman, TechGirlz
Writer: Sue Spolan

Beer pong your way to an employer's heart at UNCUBED at World Cafe Live on June 21

Looking for work is about to get way cooler, thanks to UNCUBED. "Everyone likes to have a good time, and everyone hates job fairs," says Tarek Pertew, UNCUBED organizer and co-founder of Wakefield, a media company that's producing the event which takes place June 21 from 11 am to 4 pm at World Cafe Live in University City. 
"UNCUBED is something everyone can enjoy, with music and drinks. No one wears suits, and companies are not going to have a barrier to interaction with candidates. It's a different mindset, where people can interact on a more realistic level. It's what startups want. Their approach to culture is significantly different from large companies." 
Targeting the fast growing world of tech entrepreneurs, Philly UNCUBED is an expansion from the first UNCUBED which took place in Manhattan in April 2012 and drew tech luminaries like Tumblr and Spotify, not to mention 1100 attendees vying for jobs at 85 companies.
Here in Philly, AppRenaissance, Zonoff, Monetate, RJ Metrics and Leadnomics will join dozens of companies for music, an open bar, food and games. And of course, to find employees.
UNCUBED is a production of Wakefield, which sends out a daily email on startups: think Daily Candy for business, says Pertew, who comes from a background in fashion retailing. 
Wakefield plans on taking UNCUBED to more cities in the future, but chose the vibrant tech scene in Philadelphia for its initial expansion.

Source: Tarek Pertew, UNCUBED
Writer: Sue Spolan

Largest show in festival history announced for 16th annual Live Arts celebration

With six world premieres and two U.S. premieres set for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, which announced the lineup for its 16th annual edition on Monday, there will be plenty of cutting-edge dance, theater, music, visual and interdisciplinary works by renowned contemporary artists. It will also feature the largest work in Live Arts Festival history with Sylvain Emard Danse's Le Grand Continental, which will feature 200-plus dancers on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and go down as the largest presentation of its kind in the world.

The Parkway will also host interactive public art from Montreal-based new media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Montreal will also be represented by urban circus 7 Fingers. Philadelphia's leading contemporary art-makers are in the mix as well, including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Headlong Dance Theater, Brian Sanders' JUNK and Lucidity Suitacase Intercontinental.

"Our mission to present artistic voices from around the world alongside Philadelphia's best and brightest talent continues with our 2012 programming," says producing director Nick Stuccio in a news release.

Other noteworthy performances include the only American presentation of Australia-based Back to Back Theatre's FOOD COURT, a centerpiece production that confronts bullying and body image, and New York's Elevator Repair Service and Young Jean Lee Theater Company.

The Festival runs Sept. 7-22. Tickets go on sale in mid-June and are priced between $10-$30. Discounts available to those age 25 and under and for Festival Members. A full schedule with Festival events, and performance dates, times and locations will be released shortly. PNC Arts Alive is the presenting sponsor for the 2012 edition.

Source: Carolyn Huckabay, Canary Promotions
Writer: Joe Petrucci

GPIC gets more efficient as EEB Hub, which shifts focus and is hiring up to five

The multi-partner organization GPICHub is now EEB Hub, which stands for Energy Efficient Buildings Hub. Same players, but a redesigned website, logo and tagline to reflect a change of focus. "From early on the name was made to speak to the Department of Energy, and be region focused," says Christine Knapp, Manager of Public and Client Relations for the EEB Hub, who feels that the shorter name says more in fewer words.

EEB Hub is more market focused as well, according to Knapp, with pages that break down content into four sections she calls "point-of-view" pages: Owners/Operators/Occupants, Architects/Engineers/Suppliers, Policy and Finance, and Education and Workforce. An even more granular approach is in the works, says Knapp, with some of the categories broken out further to address specific needs, say, of building owners.

The multi-stakeholder organization, which began life last February with temporary headquarters at the Navy Yard, is now in the process of constructing Building 661, a showplace for green building innovation. In what Knapp terms an entrepreneur's dream come true, even the current headquarters has become a lab.

"The temporary building we are in now is one of the most highly instrumented buildings in the country. It collects 1500 data points every minute," says Knapp, who looks forward to the ability to dashboard all that data, which will include energy, weather and occupancy data, to name just a few.

"ICon, our immersive construction lab, is up and running," reports Knapp. "It's a virtual 3D environment which allows design teams to put schematics into the system, put goggles on and walk around a building together." EEB Hub's Building 661 design team is using the technology now, and EEB Hub will soon make it available to regional architecture and design firms. "They can bring all their architects and engineers into the room together," says Knapp.

EEB Hub is seeking a full time manager for demonstration projects. Currently there are two, but up to five more are in the works, and will soon grow beyond the confines of the Navy Yard and into the larger region. Also available are ten paid summer internship positions for both undergrad and graduate students.

EEB Hub seeks to reduce energy use in the area's commercial building sector by 20 percent by 2020.

Source: Christine Knapp, EEB Hub
Writer: Sue Spolan

Imagine Philly as a startup at CEOs for Cities national meeting May 17-18

In a January opinion piece in TechCrunch, entrepreneur Jon Bischke suggested the most successful urban leaders are those who view cities like startups. CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders dedicated to creating next generation cities, will examine that premise at its 2012 Spring National Meeting: The City As a Startup -- Creating Demand, Attracting Talent, Taking Risks and Going to Scale.
The meeting is set for May 17-18 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and is made possible with support from The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Former AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case will deliver the morning keynote and also sit on a panel conservation about Startup America. 
CEOs for Cities will also release its latest City Vitals report, a framework for measuring the success of cities. Other panels include considering Songdo, South Korea as the planet's smartest city and using the collective impact approach to catalyze social change. There will also be opportunities to tour Cincinnati attractions and examples of success.
Register here. View a draft agenda here.

Philly Tech Week: A Burning Ring of Entrepreneurial Fire

"We're still getting attendee numbers in, but we'll be around if not above 10k, double last year," reports Christopher Wink, who co-organized Philly Tech Week along with Sean Blanda and Brian James Kirk on behalf of Technically Philly. Culminating with the Signature Event, a chic cocktail party featuring high end demos from The Knight Foundation, Wharton Computing, T-Mobile, NextFab and Hive76, Philly Tech Week was a total success by all measurement. For Wink, one highlight was when "the mayor dropped an open data executive order that we've been pushing on for a year." The impact of Philly Tech Week, says Wink, is real.

"It's like family," said Novotorium's Mike Krupit of the startup community that packed Thursday night's Fourth Annual Entreprenur Expo, held at the Gershman building of the University of the Arts. Presented by Philly Startup Leaders and organized by Gloria Bell, forty entrepreneurs lined up in a ring around the perimeter of the auditorium. Dozens of enthusiastic teams were on hand, some of which are so familiar that they've set up permanent space in this reporter's head, such as Lokalty, CloudMine, AboutOne, Basecamp Business, PalmLing and HeartMe.

Others doing a great job of bringing attention to their product included Patty Tawadros' iWoof'd Up, a pre-launch company offering a behavior modification program to reward family members with points redeemable for wish list items; Artsy Canvas, from the talented Kendall Schoenrock, whose large scale graphic repro company LTL has become the go to business for tech startups (LTL has created sheets of nametags for many Philly Tech Week Events).

ConXt, from Eric Sauers and Eric Greenberg, automatically updates your private address book using social media. Said Sauers, "The part of the expo that really stuck out to me was the great collection of attendees. I've been to other expos and have found the audience really doesn't fit the companies displaying." Indeed, it was not unusual to see participants floating around the room, away from their tables, catching up with their colleagues. In attendance were many familiar faces from the Philly Startup community, including several teams from Startup Weekend, like Zazzberry, Yagglo and Credit Cardio, who were still aglow from the high of building businesses from the ground up in 54 hours.

"The growth of Entrepreneur Expo, from 20 companies and approximately 200 attendees four years ago to 40 companies and over 500 attendees this year, has been a direct reflection of the growth of the tech community as a whole," said organizer Gloria Bell. "It just seemed such a natural fit to schedule the event as part of Philly Tech Week this year. For me, the highlight of Expo is always watching the intense interest on the faces of the attendees and exhibitors as they interact.  Last night was no exception."

Tonight is the Signature Event of Philly Tech Week, to take place at Moore College of Art, and the week wraps up tomorrow with 10 more events.

SnipSnap Clips the Competition at Switch Philly

Like magic. On the same day that Ted Mann's SnipSnap mobile app debuted on the iTunes Store, Switch Philly awarded Mann and team the winning spot in Wednesday night's tech startup competition. Switch, one of the highlights of Philly Tech Week, took place at the University of the Arts.

SnipSnap is on a fast track forward, and it's the second win this week for the coupon scanning team of Mann, Kyle Martin and Kostas Nasis. Earlier in the week, SnipSnap won Mobile Monday Mid-Atlantic.

"I'm the father of two kids and an unsalaried CEO of a startup," says Mann. "We have what we call the bowl of shame in our house. It's filled with coupons."

Elsewhere, the coo-pon versus kew-pon pronunciation debate continues at The Reckoner, whose creator Dan Koch, now on board as a Senior Architect at AppRenaissance, was in attendance on Wednesday.

SnipSnap impressed judges Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital, Mayor Michael Nutter, and Ellen Weber of Robin Hood Ventures, triumphing over worthy contenders PalmLing, Inhabi, Yagglo (which won Philly Startup Weekend), and Airtimem.

Weber, speaking after the event, reports that she is getting an iPad this weekend as a result of her time at Philly Startup Weekend with the Yagglo team, whose designer Shawn Hickman, she says, is one to track.

Source: Mike Krupit, Novotorium; Ted Mann, SnipSnap; Ellen Weber, Robin Hood Ventures
Writer: Sue Spolan

Nearly $3M in Knight Arts Challenge Awards awarded at Philadelphia Museum of Art

"You have to look at his lines," said Janet Echelman of the collection of rare Van Gogh paintings on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the venue for the Knight Arts Challenge Awards ceremony on Monday night. "Look at his drawing skill." Echelman, an internationally known sculptor known for her public art, was on hand to share in the honor of a $400,000 grant to the Center City District to transform the Dilworth Plaza, and be completed in March 2014, according to Paul Levy, who accepted the Knight Award on behalf of the CCD.

Winners and ceremony attendees were treated to a private viewing of the blockbuster exhibit of impressionist paintings, and Lorene Cary, who received a $100,000 award for her Hip H'Opera project, toured the exhibit with Jeri Lynne Johnson, winner of $50,000 for the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra.

The 35 winners, who have known for a month but were sworn to secrecy, uniformly reported great surprise upon receiving the news, hauling in a combined $2.76 million. "They don't just call you. They say, 'We want you to come into the office,'" said Lori Dillard Rech, who accepted $25,000 on behalf of the Center for Emerging Visual Artists' Made in Philly project. "You think you have to defend yourself, not knowing that you've already gotten the award."

Erica Hawthorne, who applied as an individual on behalf of other individuals, could not believe she was granted $60,000 for her Small-but-Mighty Arts Grant, which will award local artists anywhere from $50 to $1,000 each.

Speakers at the event included Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy's Gary Steuer, who said that the Knight Arts Challenge, now in its second of three years, is making its imprimatur on the city. Mayor Nutter remarked upon the larger effect of $9 million in Knight grants, which translates to $18 million, since each grantee must come up with matching funds, touching the lives of all Philadelphians and bringing in tourism dollars.

On a related note, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation received $350,000 for Midnight Madness, an effort to engage younger audiences with a series of late night summer happenings to include music, food and rare midnight tours of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Campus Philly, helmed by Deborah Diamond, received $100,000 to offer free or discounted admission to college students visiting the city's cultural venues.

It's not all about Center City. Neighborhoods likw Nicetown-Tioga, West Philadelphia, and East Kensington will also be getting a little Knight magic. You can see the full list of winners below, and a video here.

Performing Arts Will Diversify Old City's First Fridays
Project: Arden Festival Fridays
Recipient: Arden Theatre Company
Award: $50,000
To diversify artistic offerings by presenting multidisciplinary performances alongside gallery events during Old City's monthly First Fridays

"Pop-Up" Performances Bring Latin Jazz to Philly Neighborhoods
Project: AMLA Flash Jazz Mobile
Recipient: Artists and Musicians of Latin America
Award: $35,000
To cultivate new audiences for Latin jazz by presenting "pop-up" performances by local artists using a portable stage

Stories of Urban Youth Come to Life in "Hip H'Opera"
Project: Hip H'Opera
Recipient: Art Sanctuary
Award: $100,000
To celebrate two art forms that use the human voice to tell profound stories by creating a "Hip H'Opera" using the stories of urban life

Communities Experience Art in Unexpected Places
Project: Neighborhood Spotlight Series 
Recipient: Asian Arts Initiative
Award: $45,000
To provide everyday artistic experiences by creating site-specific works for nontraditional places like restaurants, storefronts and public plazas

Late-Night Cabarets Explore Social Issues with Sparkle on the Avenue of the Arts
Project: Bearded Ladies Cabaret Revolution
Recipient: Bearded Ladies Cabaret
Award: $30,000
To attract new audiences to theater – using the medium to explore social issues with sparkle – through a series of original, late-night cabarets

New Form of Symphonic Pops Concert Celebrates World Music
Project: Black Pearl Pops!
Recipient: Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
Award: $50,000
To showcase diverse cultures by transforming a symphonic "pops" concert into a celebration of world music

College Students Gain New Access to the City's Arts Scene
Project: Campus Philly's Passport to the Arts
Recipient: Campus Philly
Award: $100,000
To foster a lifelong appreciation of the arts by offering free or discounted admission to venues and performances for college students

Workshop Gives Voice to Unheard Stories of the Lao-American Community
Project: Laos in the House: Voices from Four Decades of the Lao Diaspora
Recipient: Catzie Vilayphonh
Award: $25,000
To promote storytelling within the Lao-American community through a writing, performance and filmmaking workshop

Public Art Transforms Dilworth Plaza and Thriving Center City
Project: New Public Art at Dilworth Plaza
Recipient: Center City District
Award: $400,000
To help transform historic Dilworth Plaza by commissioning internationally recognized sculptor Janet Echelman to create an artwork inspired by the site's historic association with water and steam

Art Installation Open to All Inspires Dialogue on Art and Spirituality
Project: In the Light: A Skyspace by James Turrell
Recipient: Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse Project
Award: $80,000
To offer visitors a contemplative art space by incorporating the work of internationally acclaimed light artist James Turrell into a new facility

Residents Transform Vacant Lots Into Visual and Sound Gardens
Project: Site and Sound Gardens
Recipient: COSACOSA art at large
Award: $75,000
To transform abandoned spaces into "sacred" art parks for the community by engaging residents to create visual and sound gardens in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood

Local Artists Get Support From Mini Grant Program
Project: Small-But-Mighty Arts Grant
Recipient: Erica Hawthorne
Award: $60,000
To give a boost to local artists by creating a mini grant program to help finance their art making with awards ranging from $50 to $1,000

Mobile Studio Brings Community Art to New Neighborhoods
Project: ColorWheels: Delivering Creativity to Your Community
Recipient: Fleisher Art Memorial
Award: $50,000
To engage the community in hands-on art making by expanding the reach of a mobile studio where participants create projects inspired by their neighborhoods

West Philadelphia Lots Become Artistic Skate Parks
Project: Skateable City
Recipient: Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund
Award: $100,000
To help transform West Philadelphia neighborhoods by turning blacktop lots into art-laden skate parks

Free Theater Festival Showcases Diversity On Stage
Project: Philly Urban Theatre Festival
Recipient: GoKash Productions
Award: $20,000
To promote original plays through a free theater festival dedicated to multicultural themes 

Late-Night Museum Happenings Encourage New Audiences
Project: Midnight Madness 
Recipient: Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
Award: $350,000
To engage younger audiences in the visual arts through a series of simultaneous late-night happenings at three of Philadelphia's premier  art museums

Cutting-Edge Performing Arts Gain New Visibility Through Residency Program
Project: Underground Residencies at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Recipient: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Award: $150,000
To engage new audiences in the performing arts by creating a residency program in the Kimmel Center's black-box theater for innovative and emerging art groups

Visual and Performing Arts Fill an East Kensington Lot
Project: Little Berlin Fairgrounds
Recipient: Little Berlin
Award: $10,000
To help transform the East Kensington neighborhood by turning an empty lot into an event space for musicians, art fairs and children's workshops

Outdoor Summer Film Series Showcases Local Artists and Filmmakers
Project: Urban Drive-In with DIY Food Culture
Recipient: The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design
Award: $20,000
To introduce the work of local visual artists and filmmakers to a wider audience by establishing an outdoor independent film series on the Parkway

Weekly Drumming Lessons Inspire Local Youth
Project: Drum Line 
Recipient: Musicopia
Award: $90,000
To empower and inspire Philadelphia's youth through their participation in an indoor percussion ensemble by providing weekly drumming lessons and performing opportunities

Gospel Choirs, Composers and Jazz Ensembles Celebrate Dr. King
Project: New Music Celebrations of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
Recipient: Orchestra 2001
Award: $40,000
To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Orchestra 2001 will present a concert featuring a new concerto based on the civil rights leader's life

Design Center Provides New Resources to Theater and Visual Artists
Project: Philadelphia Theatrical Design Center
Recipient: Partners for Sacred Places
Award: $180,000
To expand the capacity of the city's theater community by providing a new space for theater designers and visual artists at a repurposed local church

Free Digital Cameras Give Access to Communities for Photography Exhibition
Project: Bring to Light: Philadelphia
Recipient: Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Award: $35,000
To encourage broader audience participation in the city's visual arts by expanding Philly Photo Day, where everyone is invited to take a picture on the same day for an exhibition

Architecture Seen in a New Light with 3D Video Art Events
Project: Animated Architecture: 3D Video Mapping Projections on Historic Sites
Recipient: Sean Stoops
Award: $20,000
To support an innovative form of 3D digital animation by creating site-specific video art events screened on local buildings

Plays in Nontraditional Spaces Bring Adventure to Audiences
Project: Outside The (Black) Box
Recipient: Swim Pony Performing Arts
Award: $50,000
To weave the arts into the community by presenting original, contemporary plays in nontraditional spaces, including Eastern State Penitentiary and the Academy of Natural Sciences

Multidisciplinary Festival Features Black Male Artists
Project: Henry "Box" Brown - The Escape Artist 
Recipient: The Brothers Network
Award: $25,000
To introduce diverse audiences to the performing arts by creating a multidisciplinary festival that features black men as thinkers, artists, choreographers, dancers, composers and more

Locally Produced Art Populates Neighborhood Public Spaces
Project: Made in Philly
Recipient: The Center for Emerging Visual Artists
Award: $25,000
To bring visual art to a wider audience by placing locally produced art in public advertising spaces in the same neighborhood where the piece was produced

Ceramic Mug "Assault" Explores Relevance of Handmade Things
Project: Guerilla Mug Assault
Recipient: The Clay Studio
Award: $15,000
To explore the relevance of handmade ceramic objects in the 21st century by providing a handmade mug to people leaving coffee shops and encouraging them to post about their experiences on the Web

Choral Works for Nontraditional Spaces to Be Commissioned
Project: Performances at the Icebox
Recipient: The Crossing
Award: $50,000
To introduce a wider audience to contemporary choral music by establishing a series of new works designed specifically for a nontraditional venue – the recently restored Crane Arts' Icebox

Sculptural Installation Explores Visual Art and Theater
Project: Daniel Arsham: Performative Architecture
Recipient: The Fabric Workshop and Museum
Award: $80,000
To create a sculptural intervention by artist Daniel Arsham within The Fabric Workshop and Museum that will include a live performance to explore the boundaries between museum and theatrical spaces

Teaching Program Fosters New Knowledge for Use of Technology in the Arts
Project: Corps of Interactive Artist Teachers
Recipient: The Hacktory
Award: $40,000
To promote the use of technology in the arts by developing an intensive tech/art curriculum for local artists who will share their knowledge with Philadelphia students

Creative Incubator Supports Emerging Creative Businesses
Project: Creative Incubator
Recipient: The University of the Arts
Award: $120,000
To promote economic stability for the city's cultural community by offering support to emerging creative businesses with pre-seed funding, mentorship programs and workshops

Citywide Scavenger Hunts Introduce Teens to Art and Adventure
Project: ARTward Bound: a creative orienteering adventure
Recipient: The Village of Arts and Humanities
Award: $60,000
To develop young people's awareness of the city's vibrant cultural scene through interactive scavenger hunts led by local artists

Master Class Series Provides Advanced Training for Local Actors
Project: Creating a Common Artistic Voice
Recipient: The Wilma Theater
Award: $60,000
To enhance training for local actors by creating a series of master classes

Public Art Enlivens The Porch at 30th Street Station
Project: A Permanent Place for Temporary Art in University City
Recipient: University City District
Award: $120,000
To establish a new outlet for public art that showcases temporary installations at The Porch at 30th Street Station

Source: Mayor Michael Nutter, Gary Steuer, Lori Dillard Rech, Erica Hawthorne, Lorene Cary, Janet Echelman, Paul Levy
Writer: Sue Spolan

A 41-hour digital fast to raise digital divide awareness

Could you step away from the keyboard? This weekend, Philly Tech Week (PTW) curator Tayyib Smith, in conjunction with KEYSPOTS, asked the tech community and everyone else in the city to participate in a 41 hour digital fast beginning Saturday April 21 at 3 p.m. No computer. No email. No social media. No mobile apps (those participating in Philly Startup Weekend get a fast pass). The fast ended when PTW began, with breakfast on Monday (April 23) at 8 a.m.

Brandon Shockley, a content associate at Mighty Engine, did his best to participate in the fast, but couldn't make it even a quarter of the way. "I can't say I was successful, despite my best efforts. I cracked," reports Shockley. "The internet is habit forming. I made it about 7 hours, and then had to go back to the safety of my inbox."
Nearly half of Philadelphia lacks basic computer skills and internet access, according to Smith, who did make it through an internet free weekend in which he says he stopped himself 15 or 20 times from reaching for his phone and computer.

In the lead-up to Philly Tech Week, Smith, founder of 215mag and Little Giant Creative, called attention "to the 41% of Philadelphians who still don’t have basic computer skills and Internet access, which essentially means a  lack of basic opportunity." Smith curates this year’s Access and Policy track for Philly Tech Week.
"One of the biggest dangers to the people in our city who can’t communicate digitally is the risk of being underrepresented in media, government, and culture," says Smith, who notes that a new discourse is being developed, the language of programming, and it seems to him as if a monolithic group of people are explaining that language, disproportionately affecting minorities. "That’s why the first step is closing our city’s digital divide is raising awareness of this issue."
Smith hopes the fast will help publicize KEYSPOTS, an initiative of the Freedom Rings Partnership, that offers over 80 public computing sites where residents can get free internet access and training. "Do nothing and support our efforts," reads a banner on the website. Well, not totally nothing. In the next few days, Smith encourages connected people to spread the word about the fast via Facebook, Twitter and email. And then shut it all down. 

Source: Tayyib Smith, Digital FAST, Brandon Shockley, Mighty Engine
Writer: Sue Spolan

The Weekend Treasure: like Groupon with a running start

Coming soon: a mad dash. The Weekend Treasure does discounters like Groupon and Amazon Local one better. Each week, subscribers will receive an email with two clues as to where a giveaway will take place over the weekend.

"The email features a local product from a local merchant that's 100 dollars or less in value," says founder Dave Clarke, who has his sights set on the demographic of 22 to 40 year old urban professionals. "The idea is if you want it and love it, and you can figure out the clues and find it, it's yours." It will be Clarke himself standing at the destination with product in hand.

Riffing off the very popular phenomenon of City Chase and other urban scavenger hunts, Clarke says The Weekend Treasure was one of those two in the morning jump out of bed ideas (and seriously, has nothing to do with the fact that Clarke in getting married in a month). "No one is doing this type of thing. By no means do I think I am going to conquer Groupon or Living Social. I am interested in the idea of creating instant delight," says Clarke, who cites recent work with a behavioral psychologist as inspiration for The Weekend Treasure.

Now in pre-launch, with a goal to roll out this spring, The Weekend Treasure will also reward runners up with a discount at the featured merchant. "We'd like to prove it will actually drive traffic," says Clarke. "If a merchant is giving away a hundred dollar product and we drive 2 customers, that's a win. A small win, but better than ecommerce." There is an exhaustion in the marketplace due to the proliferation of email coupon businesses that have jumped on the Groupon train.

Clarke also runs AuthenticMatters, a digital communications consultancy, but says The Weekend Treasure has been gaining mindshare over the past three or four months. Urban adventurers can sign up via The Weekend Treasure's Launchrock powered home page. And Clarke promises he will keep the contest clean. "It's not going to be weird where you have to crawl in a sewer."

Source: Dave Clarke, The Weekend Treasure
Writer: Sue Spolan

SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL: It might take a village to reform DHS, help community support itself

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a content partnership with the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal.

The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is one that the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) is coming to embrace. The latest in a series of reforms at the agency is a new initiative called Improving Outcomes for Children (IOC), which aims to improve service delivery and outcomes for children in care by engaging community partners, streamlining case management, and vigilantly tracking outcomes indicators to measure the initiative’s success.

In doing so, Philadelphia DHS is embracing a new model of child welfare that acknowledges that public agencies cannot singlehandedly combat child abuse and neglect, but rather that communities are in the best position to help protect children and support families during times of need. By engaging these communities more effectively and recognizing their essential, if informal, role in service delivery, and by using data to measure success, DHS believes it can improve the safety, permanency and well-being of the children in its care.

Philadelphia DHS is not the first agency to experiment with this hypothesis of change, but given the particular challenges they face, if they are successful, there is enormous potential to influence child welfare agencies nationwide by changing practice and the mindset of child welfare service delivery.
The innovation in the IOC initiative is two-fold. First, the data tracking component of IOC represents the latest, and boldest, step towards real and meaningful accountability within DHS ever. The initiative is results-oriented, making everyone single-mindedly focused on quality service delivery and improving clients’ outcomes. Accountability done well -- using outcomes to assess the impact of programs and policies -- leads to improved client outcomes. Although accountability is not a new concept in child welfare, and some agencies nationally have embraced it, most still have not. If Philadelphia can make its system more transparent and accountable, it could serve as an important model for similar jurisdictions around the country. 

The second true innovation in IOC is the community partnership component. The premise is fairly intuitive: Children belong in families, families operate in a sphere of communities, and most often the reason that families enter the child welfare system is that they are isolated from these communities and have nowhere to turn during times of need. If families are well-supported and have access to the resources they need during times of crisis, then children will do better too.
In some ways, enhancing community partnership can be best described as building a continuum of care for at-risk children and families. The model acknowledges that many of the children who touch the child welfare system come from broken communities, and are children of yesterday’s at-risk children from similarly broken communities, or even the child welfare system themselves. By working to establish a continuum of care that can catch families when they need support, and acknowledging that DHS cannot perform this task alone, DHS may be able to significantly reduce caseloads and improve outcomes for all children at risk of entering the child welfare system in Philadelphia.

Read the full article here.

PHILADELPHIA SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL is the first online publication to bring a public focus to social innovators and their nonprofit organizations, foundations and social sector businesses in Greater Philadelphia Area, to recognize success and encourage others around the country to strive for similar results.

Citizen Effect launches Philly4Philly to raise $250k through 150 citizen philanthropists

The local nonprofit community continues to see new attempts to jumpstart local funding streams.
A week after FundingWorks launched its local crowdfunding platform, the latest tool comes in the form of Philly4Philly, a philanthropist mobilization project that aims to engage 150 Philadelphians in philanthropy for a selection of nonprofits. 
It is part of Citizen Effect, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that aims to provide "everyday citizens the tools and networks they need to work directly with communities in need."
"We think anyone can be a philanthropist," says Fiona Roach Canning, COO & Partner Director for Citizen Effect.
Philly4Philly will curate 150 nonprofit community projects in Greater Philadelphia in need of up to $10,000 in funding to become a reality, matching them with 150 citizen philanthropists who will be trained in fundraising through list-building, messaging, social media and offline events. 
"We see ourselves as marketing machines for nonprofits," says Nicole Schneidman, Citizen Effect's Strategic Initiatives Manager, who has started engagement with local nonprofits and potential citizen philanthropists and is putting together a team of local interns to work on the project. Citizen Effect launched Detroit4Detroit earlier this year, and to date has 75 citizens committed to raising $140,000 for projects ranging from education to housing and shelter.
The organization will formally launch with an event later this month. Nominate a nonprofit here.

Source: Fiona Roach Canning, Citizen Effect
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Arts Alive: PNC Foundation Grants 25 Groups a Combined $1M

Five recipients representing diverse programming were among the new grantees in the latest round of funding from the PNC Foundation through PNC Arts Alive, which announced 25 grants totaling $1 million last week.

Asian Arts Initiative, First Person Arts, Mendelssohn Club, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and Theatre Horizon were the new grantees. Grant size for all recipients ranged between $25,000 and $80,000. The Philadelphia Orchestra earned the largest grant to support eZseatU and Sound All Around, programs that engage young and diverse audiences.

Through four years of PNC Arts Alive, more than 100 organizations have received a combined $4 million to support innovative ways to engage audiences through the visual and performing arts.

PNC Arts Alive 2012 Funding
(new grantees)
PNC Arts Alive presents Neighborhood Spotlight: a series of public art workshops and visual art presentations by resident artists, engaging two vibrant multi-cultural neighborhoods: Chinatown and South Philadelphia. The series will begin with a cross-cultural exploration of Latino and Asian communities culminating with an exhibition of handmade lanterns and an oral history soundscape. $40,000
The PNC Arts Alive Philadelphia Story Project uses personal stories from three immigrant communities for a public storytelling celebration. Participants mentored by a professional storyteller will present their tales of coming to Philadelphia at a free, family-friendly Story Day celebration which includes other elements reflecting their ethnic origins, such as food and live music.  $30,000
The PNC Arts Alive grant supports the Mendelssohn Club’s Big Sing Community Series.  Here, the chorus and the audience sit together while the chorus performs.  Ethnically-diverse guest choruses will teach the Mendelssohn chorus and their audiences some of their repertoire during these performances. $25,000
The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre will offer free admission and transportation during PNC Arts Alive Free Will Wednesdays to Othello featuring Tony Award-nominated African American actor Forrest McClendon. They will also host pop up theater performances, share flip-camera audience reviews on their Website and host backstage tours and artist receptions. $35,000
PNC Arts Alive presents Theatre Horizon’s Grand Opening Season, offering the city’s residents, many of whom are low-income and underserved, free tickets to attend critically-acclaimed live theater in their own neighborhood. $25,000

(returning grantees)
Presented by PNC Arts Alive, Come See About Me celebrates the Supremes’ imprint on fashion, music, civil rights and female empowerment. A dazzling exhibition with over 70 gowns, album covers, photographs, video footage, and extensive programming will dramatize how the Supremes broke racial and gender barriers.  $75,000
The PNC Arts Alive grant supports ticket subsidies for three programs:  the Borgata Pops concert of country western, pop and classical music and featuring “America’s Got Talent” stars; a classical series featuring “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” with area choral groups; and the second annual Atlantic City Music Festival.  $45,000
PNC’s Open Rehearsal Series will once again open the doors of Black Pearl’s rehearsals to African-and Latin-American high schoolers from underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods.  Students will be invited on stage for a "mini-lesson" in conducting live musicians.$30,000
Meet Your Seat will introduce individuals and families from diverse backgrounds to the magical world of live theatre through cultural performances, house/theatre tours and hands-on activities.  $30,000
ColorWheels is a professionally-staffed mobile arts studio that will bring art-making to low-income and immigrant communities in South Philadelphia.  The curriculum includes on-the-spot art-making and a year-long project where participants contribute to a collaborative piece.   $35,000
Marrying artistic presentations to mobile technology, Check In to the Arts presented by PNC Arts Alive will increase access to the arts for young, diverse audiences.  By simply “checking in” using a smart phone, audiences will be able to receive any number of ticketed events for a free or subsidized rate.  $50,000
A five-day summer dance festival will feature the work of diverse choreographers from the Philadelphia area. Artistic director Roni Koresh will select 15 local, independent dancers to perform his new work and each show will include a performance by Koresh. $35,000
The Opera will expand PNC Arts Alive Family Days with opera-themed activities on three Saturdays at the Academy of Music. Families will be invited for workshops in group singing, conducting and stage combat plus tours of the sets, orchestra pit, dressing rooms and wardrobe areas. $40,000
The PNC Arts Alive Discovery Series includes half-price ticketing nights, free dress rehearsals and student rush prices for works that will add to the cannon of family productions. $40,000
In its second year, Social Artworking will deepen audience relationships and expand its reach with “pop up” public performances at community festivals and public gatherings to announce upcoming free exhibitions and arts activities.  $40,000
PNC Arts Alive will again be presenting sponsor of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe.  It will also sponsor Le Grand Continental, a dance event from Montreal making its American debut and featuring more than 200 Philadelphians of all ages, dance abilities, and backgrounds on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. $50,000
Mural Arts will stage The Meal, a series of visual and performance art pieces that gather people around a communal table to engage in dialogue about a chosen theme. Two French artists will lead community workshops to develop a theme for the design of ceramic plates and a table runner for a meal of 1,600 Philadelphians in a public space.  $40,000
Through PNC Arts Alive support, the museum ‘s Family Access to the Arts initiative will continue the Every Family Party, a vibrant family festival, and Pay-What-You-Wish first Sundays. $55,000
PNC Arts Alive will once again support eZseatU and Sound All Around – education programs for young, diverse audiences. Sound All Around will expand its concerts into underserved neighborhoods to introduce preschoolers to classical music.  eZseatU offers college students a $25 season membership to attend any number of subscription concerts for $1 each. $80,000
Street Movies! presented by PNC Arts Alive is a series of free outdoor films and discussions in 14 different locations throughout Philadelphia.  In 2012 and 2013, Scribe will take a mobile digital media studio into neighborhoods so community residents can create short ‘digital postcards’ that will be screened along with the films.  $35,000
PNC Arts Alive! Family Fun Days continue with interactive, family-oriented activities on Sundays from June to December.  Live artist demonstrations and multi-cultural workshops and performances educate and engage children, many from low to moderate-income households.  Admission will be free for children 17 and under.  $35,000

Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia:  PNC Arts Alive Award for Innovation $40,000
ArtReach:  Independence Starts Here $15,000
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance:  PhillyFunGuide -- “Free” Campaign $50,000
Open Minds:  Program Evaluation $20,000
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