While it is graduation season, Saint Mark’s Church in Frankford was home to a different kind of ceremony—handing out diplomas to some of the city’s most engaged citizens.
This Wednesday, PhillyRising held a graduation ceremony for community members in Frankford who completed the eight-week Citizen’s Engagement Academy. The Academy, offered in all of PhillyRising’s neighborhoods, connects citizens with city government through both access and education. Every week, a different city representative presents for the CEA participants explaining how various departments and agencies function. These representatives also field specific questions or concerns. Representing departments included: Philly311, teaching citizens about the Neighborhood Liaison Program; the District Attorney’s Office’s Public Nuisance Task Force, providing a resource for neighborhood drug and alcohol concerns; and the Streets Department’s Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee, spreading the word about resources for beautification.
Perhaps the most prolific guest, however, was “commencement speaker” Mayor Michael Nutter. As it is one of the Mayor’s priorities to attend every Citizen’s Engagement Academy graduation, Mayor Nutter came to Saint Mark’s Church to hand out diplomas and speak to the graduates, personally thanking them for their level of engagement. Deputy Mayor and Managing Director Rich Negrin spoke too, thanking the crowd for using tools such as PhillyRising and Philly311 to improve their communities.
But after every diploma had been handed out, the gratitude switched hands. A recent graduate took the stage to thank Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Negrin and PhillyRising’s Manny Citron and Amanda Finch for their service, handing them certificates of appreciation. Manny and Amanda had facilitated Frankford’s Citizen’s Engagement Academy for the past eight-weeks and while such appreciation has been expressed for the academy before, this particular act of kindness proved how impactful and empowering the program can be.
The Managing Director’s Office is looking forward to seeing what this group of 30 graduates keeps PhillyRising.