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Helen Gym among 10 in country honored by White House for community organizing work

By David Limm on Mar 27, 2014 12:07 PM

Helen Gym, a staunch public education advocate and founder of Parents United for Public Education, will be one of 10 community leaders to be honored by the White House as a Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change. 

Named after the Mexican American labor leader and civil rights activist, the honor goes to those "who have committed themselves to improving the lives of others in their communities and across the country. At the core, all of our honorees represent the values and steadfast determination of Cesar Chavez to organize ourselves for a more just tomorrow," said a White House release.

Gym, the first editor and a current opinion blogger for the Notebook, is being recognized for her work in education and her work with Asian American and immigrant communities in Philadelphia.

Helen Gym is a community and education leader whose work across different organizations supports the right to a quality public education for all children. A former school teacher and journalist, she leads the board of Asian Americans United, a 28-year old organization serving Philadelphia’s diverse Asian American and immigrant communities. At AAU, she has organized against predatory gambling and led a campaign to address human rights issues in immigration and deportation practices. She helped found a Chinatown-based charter school serving many immigrant families and anchored a successful federal civil rights case focused on the responsibility of adults to create safe school environments free from bias and harassment. She is a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, a citywide parent group that has successfully advocated for millions of dollars in new revenue for Philadelphia public schools. She is a frequent writer and contributor in local media circles; helped establish the city’s independent education newspaper, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, as its first full-time editor; and is currently on the editorial board of Rethinking Schools, a social justice teaching journal.

White House officials will recognize the 10 honorees and engage them in discussion at an event that will be livestreamed on the White House website at 10 a.m. on March 31. 

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Comments (22)

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 27, 2014 1:56 pm
Congrats Helen. You are a true champion for the school community of Philadelphia, the best interests of children, and the common good. For that you deserve our highest respect and our highest honors. The respect you have earned in our community is well deserved. Enjoy your honor. Thanks for what you do.
Submitted by Helen Gym on March 27, 2014 7:44 pm

Thank you Rich!

Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on March 27, 2014 1:29 pm
Ditto--Well done and more than deserving but NOBODY is less worthy of bestowing awards for "The People" than Obama.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on March 27, 2014 2:02 pm
Typical Obama move. Award for Gym yet all the money goes to Arne Duncan to work against her and her ilk. Gym is Obama's beard with the Liberals
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 27, 2014 2:45 pm
Friend of Obama, PSP, and the Koch brothers. This lady's got range!
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on March 27, 2014 3:30 pm
Is the president aware that Gym hates him because he supports charters and school choice? Someone should contact the White House.
Submitted by Public Schools All the Way (not verified) on April 8, 2014 4:50 pm
Are you crazy? She's cofounded a charter school:
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 27, 2014 4:08 pm
Haters to the left.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 27, 2014 6:13 pm
Congratulations Helen. Continue to fight the fight.
Submitted by Helen Gym on March 27, 2014 7:36 pm

Thank you. We (or most of at least) are doing this thing together. 

Submitted by Lisa Haver on March 27, 2014 6:08 pm
Congratulations, Helen.
Submitted by Helen Gym on March 27, 2014 7:13 pm

Lisa, you're the best! Thank you for making Philadelphia such a place of possibility and energy.

Submitted by Che Che (not verified) on March 27, 2014 8:10 pm
Congratulations, Helen!! I cannot think of a more worthy recipient!!! Thank you so much for all that you do and how you inspire the rest of us!!! You are an amazing woman!! So proud to know you!!
Submitted by Helen Gym on March 27, 2014 9:09 pm

Thank you so much Che Che. Actually there are so many worth recipients. And its so important to have a strong alliance of parents, teachers and advocates working for quality schools.

Submitted by Windowndressing (not verified) on March 27, 2014 9:04 pm
Nothing more than a PR move. It's a lot easier to give out an award than it is to give the money needed to make successful schools. If Obama was really listening to Helen Gym he would be leaning on Nutter and Corbett. Talking out of the side of his mouth once again.
Submitted by Amy Chen (not verified) on March 28, 2014 11:56 am
Congratulations Helen!! Thank you so much for inspiring me as an Asian American!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 28, 2014 1:43 pm
Awesome. Congratulations Helen. And getting an award named after Cesar Chavez. What could be better. Harold Jordan
Submitted by Kimberly Moore (not verified) on March 28, 2014 7:55 pm
Congratulations Helen! What a wonderful honor for a very deserving recipient. Thank you for all you do for the children of Philadelphia.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 28, 2014 8:38 pm
Kudos, Helen.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 29, 2014 9:46 am
Congratulations, Helen! I trust you will enjoy the moment and use it as an opportunity to tell the "power brokers" at the ceremony the ways in which their policies undercut the things they are honoring your for. Thanks for all you do for the children in Philadelphia (and beyond).
Submitted by Adriana (not verified) on May 31, 2014 8:50 pm
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Submitted by Henrybrown (not verified) on July 1, 2014 8:03 am
This is great news for all the fitness lovers. I also thankful to community members which is honored for this great healthy cause.

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