PhillyRising’s Penrose Neighborhood is Well-Served

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Last month,  PhillyRising’s Penrose neighborhood received a lot of help from its friends.

The Goldenberg Group sponsored a vibrant day of service in the community, pulling efforts from a wide-range of organizations. While the Goldenberg Group is a successful development corporation, it has a robust community-development and service arm, People Helping People. PhillyRising helped connect the People Helping People Foundation with over 100 City Year volunteers for the event.

City Year is an AmeriCorps organization that pairs college graduates with a year of service in a major city.

Some of the day’s service activities were facilitated by the Philly Urban Creators, a youth and community driven organization that inspires inner-city neighborhoods to transform neglected landscapes into food hubs, social enterprises, and models of urban sustainability.

City Year’s volunteers helped the Philly Urban Creators’ co-founder Alex Epstein with maintenance work in the organization’s urban garden and a clean-up in the surrounding neighborhood. PhillyRising’s Amanda Finch facilitated a second volunteer effort at the nearby Dunbar Promise Academy, helping the school with repainting and other refurbishing efforts.

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The day of service was a shining example of how a diverse range of organizations can positively impact a community through the power of collaboration. PhillyRising would like to thank the Goldenberg Group’s People Helping People, City Year, and the Philly Urban Creators for their valuable service.

For more information about PhillyRising and its volunteer opportunities, visit

Philly311 TV: Open Data

The City of Philadelphia is proud to present season 2 of Philly311 TV. Hosted by Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue, the show’s goal is to engage, educate, and empower citizens with information about city services. Through interviews with employees from across the municipality, citizens can learn about new initiatives, available resources, and get to know the personal side of city government. In this episode of Philly311 TV host, Rosetta Carrington Lue, sits down with City’s Chief Data Officer, Tim Wisniewski, to discuss City’s open data program and civic technology efforts. Wisniewski has played an integral role in bridging the City government and Philadelphia’s burgeoning tech community, as well as, implementing and working for a open government. Tune-in to find out how City government is using technology to connect with citizens.

Tune-in to Philly311 TV on the Philly311 Youtube channel as well as Philadelphia’s Channel 64 at 7:00pm on Monday/Wednesday/Sunday and 7:00am on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. You can also catch up with Philly311 TV on Sunday’s at 7:00am on PhillyCAM (Comcast Cable channel 66/966 or Verizon FIOS 29/30).

Citizen’s Engagement Academy Draws Largest Crowd to Date


PhillyRising Deputy Director Jim Sanders led the Citizen’s Engagement Academy session

This month, PhillyRising hosted a Citizen’s Engagement Academy (C.E.A.) session in its North Central neighborhood. While the academy has always been popular, this past session was more popular than ever.

71 community members came out to the Hiteman Learning Center on Judson Street for the first session of this C.E.A. The session’s topic focused on Philly311 and how community members can use the contact center’s long list of channels to engage with city government.

PhillyRising Deputy Director Jim Sanders led the CEA session. Guest speakers included Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue and Administrative Operations Manager Graham Quinn. Both Lue and Quinn discussed the various ways to use Philly311, highlighting the free Philly311 Mobile App through which citizens can enter service requests from anywhere, 24/7. The Philly311 team also plugged its Neighborhood Liaison Program which trains community members to directly enter and track service requests in the 311 system.

Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue speaking at the Citizen's Engagement Academy

Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue speaking at the Citizen’s Engagement Academy

The Citizen’s Engagement Academy educates community members on municipal services through eight weeks of presentations from city officials. In addition to 311, community members will hear from the Community Life Improvement Program, Town Watch, and other City programs and resources. Part of what made this past Citizen Engagement Academy so popular was that it was open to the entire city, rather than one targeted neighborhood. PhillyRising is looking to expand its efforts to thoughtfully engage and empower as many Philadelphians as possible. To learn more about how to get involved with PhillyRising, visit

Managing Director Rich Negrin Takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Last week, Managing Director Rich Negrin was challenged by former college football teammates Terry Harcleroad and Travis Muckle to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Over the weekend, he went to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus with his family and asked a special friend to take the challenge with him. After taking the challenge, the Managing Director challenged Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, ABC anchor Walter Perez and the Phillie Phanatic. Check out the video above.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time. Visit learn more about this serious disease.

PhillyRising Goes Digital


The PhillyRising Collaborative is about human connections. The program builds relationships between Division Coordinators and community stakeholders to address  neighborhood concerns. Through these relationships, community members are empowered by access to education and the resources necessary to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. In essence, the program has built a far-reaching network of engaged and empowered citizens across the city. Now, PhillyRising is leveraging technology to expand this network and improve its effectiveness.

Most recently, PhillyRising has implemented a performance management strategy to measure the effectiveness of its specific service delivery and community engagement efforts. The PhillyRising team now utilizes an output tracker which digitally tracks activities facilitated by PhillyRising Coordinators. The output tracker measures the performance of activities such as:

  • Community meeting attendance
  • Service requests entered by PhillyRising Coordinators on behalf of community members
  • Events coordinated by PhillyRising
  • Volunteer hours facilitated by PhillyRising
  • Citizen Engagement Academy sign-ups and graduates

Data from these activities shows the qualitative outcomes of PhillyRising’s presence in a neighborhood. The data also shows where and how a community’s level of engagement could improve.

PhillyRising also has an app:

Inspired by apps such as AroundMe and Yelp, the myPhillyRising app is a central platform where community members can look-up meetings, events, clean-ups and resources around their PhillyRising neighborhoods. Centered on collaboration, the app allows users to generate content for their neighborhood’s page. Community members can create events, share success stories and photos or post questions and comments on their neighborhood’s discussion board. The app also gamifies community building. Users can gain points by: signing up for an account; sharing events, resources, and stories; or RSVPing/checking-in to an event. User points are added to the neighborhood’s points listed at the top of its page. An increase in points creates a public notification that the specific neighborhood “is rising.”

Through these digital efforts, PhillyRising can leverage technology to strategically engage and empower residents in every neighborhood across the city. But the program has not given up on the power of human connections. PhillyRising Coordinators are still active members in their divisional neighborhoods. The annual PhillyRising Conference is also scheduled to take place on October 18th at Temple University (1775 N. 15th Street). The interactive conference will connect attendees with actionable service requests and helpful municipal information. We’ll write more about the conference as the date gets closer.

Building Great Neighborhoods

My office recently worked with local video producers Charles Morabito, Greg Heller, and Adam Maruszan to release an animated short titled “Philadelphia: A City of Neighborhoods.” The video tells the story of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and the city government’s neighborhood-centric programs. Below is  the text to the video’s narrative. I hope you share this video with community heroes, community organizations, or anyone else looking to make a difference in our city’s great neighborhoods. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Brotherly love.

A sense of community.

A city of neighborhoods.

But what makes a neighborhood, great?

In the 19th century, Philadelphia’s neighborhoods flourished.  Philadelphia was amongst the great manufacturing cities with a world class shipping port and factories full of workers. These workers lived and raised families, making up neighborhoods with a high quality of life.

But over time, the manufacturing industry changed, the economy shifted and many Philadelphians lost their jobs.  And because so many individuals suffered, so did their neighborhoods.

Now many years later, Philadelphia is growing.  Crime is at it’s lowest point in 40 years and the economy is adapting.  Major building projects are creating jobs and changing our skyline once again.

And now is the time to help our neighborhoods rise.

Today, the Nutter administration and City government is dedicated to a new era of citizen empowerment. If our city is going to change, our neighborhood heroes will lead the way.

Philly 311’s neighborhood Liaison Program helps community members record and track neighborhood concerns.  In Point Breeze, Barbara used Philly 311 to become the centralized voice of her community.  After entering a service request, graffiti has now been removed from her street.

PhillyRising partners with community leaders to connect citizens with city services, resources, and sustainable solutions.  In North Philadelphia, PhillyRising partnered with Devin and his Organization, Philly Urban Creators.  Together, they transformed nearby abandoned lots into thriving urban farms.

Philly Keyspots provides free computer use, web access, and technology training to communities around the city.  With nearly 50% of residents lacking internet access, Keyspots centers connect Philadelphians online.  In Strawberry Mansion, Paul used his local Keyspot to apply for a job, and was hired.

Citizens determine the success of their communities…. And those communities determine the success of our city.

By working together, citizens and government,  we can make sure Philadelphia is not just a city of neighborhoods…. but a city of great neighborhoods for all of us.


PhillyRising Collaborates for Hartranft Spring Festival and Handball Tournament 

PhillyRising Hartranft

In late June, APM and the Rainbow de Colores Park Group collaborated with PhillyRising for the annual Spring Festival and Handball Tournament in Hartranft. PhillyRising’s Joandelis Marquez helped connect the friends group with public safety, special event permits, and other municipal support for the event.

The Spring Festival took place in the Rainbow de Colores Park on 5th and York Streets. Filled with food, games, and resource tables, the festival gave neighbors a chance to enjoy the late spring/early summer weather, while learning about how to improve their community.

Hosting this family-friendly event in the community, the Rainbow de Colores Park Group is a unique asset to the Hartranft neighborhood. Made up of nearly 50 young men, the group maintains the revamped Rainbow de Colores Park themselves. But the group doesn’t stop there. Most members are trained Philly311 Neighborhood Liaisons, with the Philly311 Mobile App downloaded on their phones. Group members are active 311 users, frequently entering requests to help beautify and improve the quality of life throughout the neighborhood.


Among all of the festivities, and collaboration with city government, the real triumph in Hartranft is in the young Rainbow de Colores Park Group. A large group of young adults taking charge of their neighborhoods to make positive improvement is the kind of culture that can save a neighborhood, a city. Congratulations to APM, the Rainbow de Colores Park Group, and the Hartranft community for a great summer. We’re all looking forward to seeing what you can accomplish next.


After School Activities Widget Now Available on Philly311 Mobile App

Last week, the Mayor’s Office of Communications announced the release of the Philly311 After School Activities widget. Born out of Philly311’s public widget contest, the idea for a youth programming widget came from Code for Philly Brigade Captain Chris Alfano. Chris Alfano won the widget contest, which led to a partnership between Philly311, Code for Philly, and the After School Activities Partnership (ASAP).

By partnering with ASAP, the new widget gained access to a vast, regularly-maintained database of youth programming. ASAP facilitates Chess, Drama, Debate, and Scrabble programming throughout the city and publishes these activities in its popular directory. Both the partnership with Code for Philly and ASAP led to a comprehensive, interactive, and highly-valuable end product for Philadelphia parents and guardians.

“Philadelphia has an abundance of high-quality after school activities that offer safe and engaging opportunities for youth of all ages and interests.  To help families find the right program for their child, ASAP’s directory looks to share information on all of these activities – from Arts & crafts to Zumba – in a format that is comprehensive yet easy-to-use,” said Justin Ennis, Executive Director, After School Activities Partnership in the City’s official press release.

Here’s how the widget works. It’s located on the second page of the Philly311 Mobile App.

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Search for programming by location, age, time of day, and clubs offered.

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photo 3The launch of this widget is important for two reasons: (1) it shows illustrates the power of collaboration between government and external partners and (2) it provides comprehensive, important support our city’s parents and children.

“Partnering with the local tech community helped the Philly311 Mobile App to better serve parents and become an even more impressive customer engagement tool.” Sheryl Johnson, Philly311 Operations Manager

The Managing Director’s Office would like to extend its gratitude  ASAP, Code for Philly, and Chris Alfano for a great idea that created this important result.

“In the face of so many daunting challenges around education, it’s great that technology can help spread the word about vital after school programs to help our children make progress and further their education,” Managing Director Richard Negrin.

The Philly311 Mobile App is available for free on any iPhone, Android, and Blackberry device. Download here.

PhillyRising Launches a Youth Career Boot Camp in Frankford

phillyrising_final_logo-(1) (1)In the middle of the hot summer, while most kids were swimming in the pool or playing basketball, over 30 youths from Frankford learned about writing resumes, dressing for job interviews, and creating LinkedIn profiles.

Most young people are expected to get jobs during high school and college yet there are few resources that teach the hard-to-learn skills and behaviors it takes to get hired. With this in mind, PhillyRising revamped its Career Boot Camp to give young people a better chance at realizing their career goals.

PhillyRising partnered with the Frankford CDC to facilitate a Career Boot Camp that focused on youth employment education. PhillyRising’s Deputy Director Bennie Ruth and Northeast Coordinator Sanya Brown developed and taught the workshop, pulling from youth workers who obtained summer employment through the Philadelphia Youth Network. The workshop spanned for two-days, lasting from 9am-1pm.

Frankford CDC PYN Career Boot Camp 2014

PhillyRising’s Career Boot Camp began at the basics, starting with goal-setting, positive self-talk, and PhillyRising’s unique S.T.A.R.  planning tool The workshop moved on to more advanced professional skills such as resume writing, cover-letter-writing, and interview techniques. The course also provided a list of contact information for area employers.

While resume writing assignments and mock-interviews were challenging activities for Boot Camp participants, PhillyRising’s Sanya Brown was most impressed by the personal growth she saw over the two days. Most participants entered the Boot Camp as typical teenagers–loud, disinterested in professional development– but all of the 31 Boot Camp graduates left as fully-engaged young adults with polished resumes and cover letters and refined professional skills.

The Boot Camp gave them the skills and tools necessary to accomplish their life goals in conjunction with an unforgettable summer experience.

To learn more about PhillyRising’s Youth Career Boot Camp, contact Sanya Brown at To connect and engage with PhillyRising activities, visit

Philly wins PTI award for OEO innovation

Project team, from left to right: David Mauro, OIT; Angela Dowd-Burton, OEO; Joyce Strother, OEO; Scott Strickler, OIT; Shonique McCall, OIT; Lashawnda Tompkins, OEO. Original by Adrienne Strickler

Philadelphia has received national recognition from the Public Technology Institute (PTI) for its implementation of a Minority, Women and Disabled-Owned Business Enterprise (M/W/DSBE) Registry and Contract Compliance Reporting System (CCRS). PTI awarded the City with a Significant Achievement in the 2013-2014 Technology Solutions Awards Competition. Philadelphia was the only county in Pennsylvania recognized this year.

The Registry and CCRS, running on cloud software developed and hosted by Phoenix, Arizona-based B2Gnow and brokered to the City through the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT), has enabled the City’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to transform its business through data-driven performance management. The system provides a critical new capability, presenting the City’s purchasing and payment data to directly engage the vendor community in facilitating compliance with contract goals for M/W/DSBE participation.

The new system addresses a long-standing concern in the City. For decades Philadelphia has been working to improve participation by minority, women and disabled-owned businesses on its contracts. This stems from recognition among City leadership that enabling disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) to better compete for contracting opportunities benefits both the business community and the City. Most recently, OEO has driven this initiative, and in doing so has taken on the challenge of adopting more effective practices. Its legacy processes proved inefficient for its budget-constrained staff:

  • a paper-based, manual process for applying to the City’s OEO registry that was a burden to staff and contractors
  • a process for tracking contract participation and investigating contract disputes that involved logging into at least three disparate systems just to gather background information
  • a manual, spreadsheet-based process for generating required reports that could show contract awards to M/W/DSBE’s, but could not provide insight into actual dollars paid to them

The Registry and CCRS implementation introduced solutions that will dramatically improve each of these processes. The software includes web-based registry application submission and search, back-office workflow, and an integrated database containing:

  • data about contracts from the City’s three procurement and contract management systems
  • data about payments against City contracts from the City’s legacy accounting system

The project brought together City OIT, OEO, Procurement and Finance departments to develop the interfaces with City systems and coordinate the transition to new business processes. What they accomplished represents a landmark effort, and one that will support not just OEO but also future initiatives to improve the City’s Procurement and Finance operations and transparency. The Registry and CCRS is now at the center of OEO’s new operating model, providing information and tools to drive Philadelphia’s M/W/DSBE participation compliance improvement initiative. The system’s built-in metrics and dashboards have already proven their value, simplifying the reporting process and alerting managers with accurate information to facilitate decisions.

An example of the system dashboard, which can report the latest measures of OEO operations

A huge thanks goes out to all those who have contributed to the project’s success, and continue to help the effort move forward!

  • Angela Dowd-Burton, Executive Director, OEO, Commerce – Project Sponsor
  • Joyce Strother, OEO, Commerce – Project Manager
  • Alice Dungee-James, OEO, Commerce
  • LaShawnda Tompkins, OEO, Commerce
  • Scott Stricker, OIT – Project Manager
  • Shonique McCall, OIT – Project Manager
  • David Mauro, OIT – Lead Technical Architect and Developer
  • Hugh Ortman, Commissioner, Procurement
  • Trevor Day, Deputy Commissioner, Procurement
  • Stephanie Tipton, Deputy Chief Integrity Officer
  • Mary Stitt, Chief of Staff, Managing Director’s Office
  • T. David Williams, Deputy Director, Finance
  • Drew Menten, Contract Management Analyst, Finance
  • Dan McKenzie, Finance Developer, Information Services Partner, Inc.
  • David Wilson, 1st Deputy Managing Director – Project Executive

This is Philadelphia’s fourth year in a row winning a PTI award. Check out this post about last year’s wins, as well as these pages with PTI’s official results from 2013 and 2012.


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