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Pew awards $8.6 million to help poor youth and families

The grants, given to 45 local organizations, will affect 22,000 children per year, says Pew.
  • children's village
    Harvey Finkle

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On Tuesday, the Pew Charitable Trusts announced $8.6 million in grants to 45 organizations in the city and region that work with high-poverty children and youth.

The awards are focused on five areas: creating more high-quality early-education and child-care opportunities; prevention and early intervention relating to cognitive and other problems for at-risk young people; promoting wider access for families to behavioral health services; expanding good afterschool programs geared toward school engagement, academic success and college readiness; and improving vulnerable families' access to public benefits and services that improve household stability.

Citing the 37 percent poverty rate for children in Philadelphia -- the highest of any big city in the nation -- the senior director of the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services, Frazierita Klasen, said that these areas have been identified in research as "helping poor and disadvantaged children improve their life trajectories."

The awardees range from the AARP Foundation, for its Experience Corps program, in which seniors tutor kindergartners through 3rd graders, to the Joseph J. Peters Institute, which works with victims of sexual abuse, to Public Citizens for Children & Youth, for its efforts to help families get health insurance. Some organizations, like Drexel University, received several awards for different projects.

The grants are awarded in a competitive process, said Klasen, and the final awardees are chosen with the help of outside experts. The money, distributed over three years, is customarily for a specific project.

"We select those we conclude are the strongest, based on understanding of the target population, the evidence they provide, the likelihood of the work being successful, and the strength and quality of the organization overall," said Klasen.

The Pew Fund for Health and Human Services has three grantmaking areas: children, youth, and families; the frail elderly; and vulnerable adults, a category that includes the homeless, mentally ill, and disabled. Grants are awarded in three-year cycles in one of these areas. Next year, the focus will be on vulnerable adults.

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Dale Mezzacappa

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Dale is a contributing editor at the Notebook. She has reported on education since 1986, most of that time with The Philadelphia Inquirer.