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This is the latest development in one of Mayor Kenney's early initiatives. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.
This is the latest development in one of Mayor Kenney's early initiatives. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

Philadelphia Community Schools Program expands to 20 schools, paid for by Philadelphia Beverage Tax

Mayor Jim Kenney announced that there will be three schools added to the community schools program.

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On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Mayor Jim Kenney announced an expansion of the Philadelphia Community Schools Program, an initiative founded early on in the Kenney Administration. 

Three additional schools will be added to the list. Those schools are Add B. Anderson Elementary School in West Philadelphia, Frankford High School on Oxford Avenue in the Frankford section of North Philadelphia, and Paul L. Dunbar School in North Philadelphia.

“We launched the first cohort of nine Community Schools in 2017,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The goal then, and now, is to meet the needs of the whole child and provide support to both students and families as well as resources to the community. I’m excited to continue building the network of Philadelphia Community Schools with the addition of Add B. Anderson, Frankford High School, and Paul L. Dunbar School.”

The purpose of the program is to have a full-time coordinator work with students to have necessary job training, social services for students, neighbors, and students, health screenings, trauma counseling for grieving students, and counseling for students who want to speak with a professional.

The administration is hoping that the initiative will increase attendance and limit the amount of violence.

Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. said that taking these proper steps will help youth mentally and emotionally.

“We know that for schools to help students thrive, we need to work with our partners to address the struggles and challenges our students face inside and outside of the classroom,” said Superintendent Watlington. “And that’s exactly why it’s important to have the Community Schools initiative, a collaborative partnership providing wrap-around services and amplifying the work of our Student Support Services to extend our reach far beyond academics. Through working with Community School coordinators, our school leaders receive additional support to help achieve their desired educational outcomes.”

The city is hoping to invest in more than $40 million in the next few years, while also adding at least five more schools to the program.

The Soda Beverage Tax is the main source of income for the initiative. The budget for the 17 schools will be $9.8 million. Organizers are hoping to increase the budget next year when the three schools will be included.

The 1.5-cent tax, approved in 2016 and was received with mixed reviews by locals, while Kenney called the contribution as “one of the ‘core’ successes his administration had in his first term.”

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