We are quickly approaching our one year anniversary at Bok in South Philadelphia! Not only has this move been fiscally good, it has been strategically incredible! For a long time, I had believed that we should be out of Center City and back into the community . . . and Bok offered us a wonderful chance to do this and, in doing so, join an incredible hub of creative people, innovators, artists, other non-profit agencies, and so much more!

We have been able to put our experience and skills to work here as part of the Bok community. Over this past year, we provided pre-screening hiring services for both the Bok Bar (Bok’s amazing rooftop summer bar) and Humble Dumplings (the food vendor for Bok Bar). During the summer, we were able to place many of our high school students into amazing internships with many of the businesses in Bok! We had internships with furniture builders, clothing designers, a boxing gym, a Yoga studio, and much more! We culminated the summer internships with a gallery show featuring the creations of our students . . . all related to work. There were spoken word performances, drawings, paintings, fashion design, and much more!

This year, our year-round in-school program, USLA 2.0, will be focused on seniors at South Philadelphia High School. We are excited to begin programming at this vibrant school.

We are excited that our partnership with Opera Philadelphia is moving out of its pilot period and into a full program year!  Through this partnership, we introduce students to careers in technical theater! One of only two such programs nationally, we are excited about what is planned for the next three years!

We are VERY happy to announce that we are the recipients of a $25,000 grant from the McLean Contributionship to help with improvements to the Community Learning Farm at 8th and Poplar! This will go towards the addition of a new barn, new fencing, improvements to the classroom area, upgrades to the high tunnel, and a new and portable farm stand – among other improvements! And, to add to this, we have a group of Temple University engineering students who are working to create a state-of-the-art rain catchment system for our high tunnel!  The new, taller fencing will provide greater protection from vandalism, which has been a regular problem on the farm. Through this farm we will expand our partnership with the East Poplar Playground and its Director – Ty Gross! We will provide more farm-based educational opportunities for the children and youth that participate in programming at the playground. We are very excited about this expansion of our work. Marta Lynch, our Urban Farmer/Educator for 8th and Poplar, has done an amazing job building on this long term relationship!

We are also happy to announce a $45,000 grant from the Pierce Family Foundation. This is our third year of support from this incredible foundation – and, these funds help us maintain our farm team of Adam Lauer and Marta Lynch! We deeply appreciate the continued support of the Pierce Family Foundation!

I do continue to ask for your patience as we reconstruct this website. We were hit with a huge data loss due to issues with Hostgator, our previous host. We lost nearly a full year of updates and information. We have moved to a new host, however the damage done is unrecoverable – so, we are working to manually get everything back together. We appreciate the help of our IT team from PFit, Inc. and Rilwan Bello from our team!


First Quarter News at FNC!

JTphoto2I find it hard to believe that we are already through the first quarter of this new fiscal year! With all of the changes at FNC, it has certainly seemed like a whirlwind! We have a lot of things to celebrate as we move into the fall.

First Board Meeting of the Revamped Board of Directors

We had an incredible first official meeting of our new Board of Directors on September 23! The Board officially approved our more concise mission statement, which more accurately and succinctly represents what FNC is all about. Thanks to the staff and board members who worked on this!

FNC Gains the Support of First Time Funders

We are happy to announce that FNC has two new funders at our table!


We are thankful to PNC for their generous grant of $5,000 in support of our Teens 4 Good After-School Programming!


Also joining our supporters is Aetna! Aetna has graciously awarded FNC $25,000 in support of our Teens for Good Healthy Community Initiative! This will go a long way in supporting our efforts to make our urban farms community hubs for learning about food access and healthy eating!

Philadelphia Housing Authority Belly Flop

Of course, with the good comes the bad. After submitting a strong proposal to do after school programming for PHA, we were asked for our “best and final offer”, which we submitted on the same day. Soon after, we received word that we were being funded and a contract was sent, referencing the proposal and best and final offer. Contracts were signed, but when we finally had our post-award meeting, it was apparent that nothing was as it seemed. Our program would have not only brought excellent programming to the area around our 8th and Poplar Farm, but would have also connected participants and their families to some of the best neighborhood-based health supports available anywhere. We sincerely hope that PHA finds a way to get their house in order so that residents can get the level of support they both need and deserve. We will continue to push them for accountability on this incredible lack of communication, follow-up and contract integrity.

Funding for 2015-2016

While things certainly are brighter for us fiscally this year compared to last, there are still challenges. The fiasco with PHA caused us a hit of approximately $40k in existing staff salary support. The inability of the Governor and the Pennsylvania Legislature to come to an agreement on a budget leaves many other things in limbo. While we have indications that funding will proceed as expected from the Department of Human Services and others impacted by the impasse, those things remain in limbo for now. We are thankful that we are able to move forward with our USLA 2.0 youth programming (funded through the Philadelphia Youth Network), but also acknowledge that payments may be delayed indefinitely, based on the timing of an approved state budget.

How Can YOU Help?

Your support is crucial, especially in these days of uncertain funding. Right now, we could certainly use support to fill the budget gap left by PHA. We could also use additional supports for our farms – as you know, rural farms often cannot break even, imagine how difficult it is for small urban farms! If you want to know about some specific things you could support – call me (215.989.3566 x11) or email me (jerryt@fncphilly.org) and we can talk specifics! If you wish to make a general donation today, whether $1 or $1000, you can use the link below and make your donation safely via PayPal online. Or, if you like doing things old school, you can always mail a check to us at 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19102!

Another Way You Can Help!
emerging p15

FNC is expanding its fiscal sponsorship work through the newly revamped FNC Emerging Partners Fiscal Sponsorship Initiative. Doing this keeps us true to our mission of creating intentional partnerships to effectively support thriving communities in the Philadelphia region. Here’s how you can help:

  • Do you know of an individual or group working toward their 501(c)(3) status?
    • If we determine that our missions align, FNC can serve as the fiscal sponsor for the project or group while they await their full non-profit status! Through the fiscal sponsorship of FNC, they can receive grant monies and accept donations through us. We provide fiscal services along with a customizable package of supports (data, IT, staff development, etc.) to help them reach their goals! The cost is minimal and is based on the services provided.
  • Do you know of a small non-profit that is struggling?
    • If we determine that our missions align, FNC can provide back-office supports (fiscal, data, IT, staff development, faceetc.) at a fraction of the cost of an agency housing these functions in-house!

If you know of someone who could benefit from these services – please let them know about us, and let us know about them! I am always happy to discuss fiscal sponsorship options with groups that share a mission that aligns with that of FNC.

As always, we are thankful for your support!


Continue reading →

New & Returning Board Members Join FNC Staff to Kick Off the New Fiscal Year!

Strangelove’s was the setting for an August 6th mixer bringing together our returning board members, our new members and our staff. Even with the busy summer in full swing, we found time to bring folks together for a chance to meet each other and set the tone for a new year of partnership!


I hope you will head over to our board page and check out all of the people on our Board of Directors! We are especially happy to welcome our new members, Fred Bender, President/CEO of PFIT, Inc., David Dennis, Lead Instructor for the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA), Michael Harbison, Executive Director of PEBA, Maribel Ojeda, Assistant Director of Program Operations for the Center of Literacy, Michele Raymond, Vice President of Philanthropy for CADES, Kim Still, Re-Entry Manager for JEVS Human Services, and Rodney Yancey, Corporate Communications Supervisor for Health Partners.


Much of the conversation at our mixer centered on some new initiatives at FNC. There is a lot of excitement in the air as we kick off the year with a clear direction and with new, exciting programs! Much of the excitement is around our Teens 4 Good program. Teens 4 Good is a youth-focused urban agriculture program that operates four urban farms in Philadelphia. The farms serve as the foundation for our youth programming. Our farms provide a backdrop where youth learn excellent life skills while helping produce food and provide learning around food access and nutrition for the surrounding communities! This year, we are kicking off our Urban Sustainability Leadership Academy (USLA) 2.0! With funding from the Philadelphia Youth Network, USLA will provide after school, year-round programming for 59 Philadelphia high school students. FNC is partnering with our long-time partner, North Light Community Center and new partner Triskeles Programs for this two-year project. Also kicking off this school year will be a new youth programming partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, providing after school programming to middle and high school youth from North Philadelphia! We are excited to welcome Drexel’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Center as one of our partners for this big new project!


The event also gave us an opportunity to introduce everyone to our new logo! We are very pleased to roll out our new, colorful logo – the masterful work of Dwayne Booth (aka Mr. Fish). Probably the most exciting and edgy cartoonist and freelance writer in the business, he has contributed to some of the nation’s most prestigious magazines, journals and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, the Advocate, Utne Reader, Slate.com, MSNBC and others! Check him out! We are honored to have a Mr. Fish creation as our new logo!

FNC_4(Transparency) (00000002)PNG

Not only do we have a new logo, but we have a new domain! No more will you have to remember federationnc.org when you are trying to email us! All of our emails now are tied to our new domain (meet the staff and find our contact information here). And, our new website is found at fncphilly.org!

There is so much more happening – such as our new Emerging Partners Fiscal Sponsorship Initiative, our work with the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition and other initiatives! But, I will save that for another day . . . another blog post!

emerging p15

And, don’t forget – your contributions are so important to us! Find out how to make a one-time or recurring donation via PayPal here (and find out about some other ways to contribute)!


Zach Hughes – Making a Difference, Setting the Standard

Back in February of 2014, I received a meeting invitation from our then Director of Youth Programs, Claire McEachern. She was inviting me to be a part of an introductory meeting with a young man who had responded to a request for a volunteer intern at FNC to help us develop a new web presence. Frankly, I was not optimistic. What college kid would be willing to give that much time to a project for a non-profit that he knew nothing about?

So, at 1:30 PM on February 20, 2014 Claire and I met with Zachary Hughes at our office. My lack of optimism was erased in about a minute. His initial motivation was the idea that doing volunteer work for a non-profit would boost his chances for getting into a good university once he was ready to transfer out of CCP. He came in the door with the confidence of someone twice his age, full of enthusiasm, prepared for the meeting and ready to roll.


Today, July 31, 2015, nearly a year and a half after that initial meeting, we are sending Zach off to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to begin the next phase of his education. But, what has transpired in those 17 months since he walked into our office is beyond what any of us could have imagined.

Not only did Zach start creating our new and improved website, he took full charge of the project – setting up meetings, reviewing content, offering suggestions – and ended up creating an incredible website. And, today we are rolling out the second complete new build of our website! There are still a few things we have to fill in (some of us missed our deadlines) – but, it is up and running!

That, in itself, would merit high praise for Zach, but it didn’t end there. Zach has taken a leadership role in our youth programming, helping with social media, fundraising for the youth, and even mentoring some of the teens in our program. And, he has done this with drive, confidence and compassion that, simply put, is astounding for someone of any age.

So, I am happy to announce today that Zach is the recipient of FNC’s 2015 Community Service Award, in acknowledgement and appreciation of his commitment to FNC as a Community Service Volunteer. He truly has set the standard for community service!


And, because of this – there is a second announcement! Because of the high standard that Zach has set in his time with FNC, annually, in his honor, FNC will present the Zach Hughes Community Service Award to a young adult who shows such a commitment to his/her Philadelphia community. The award will come with a plaque, and the person’s name will be added to a display at the office –and, the recipient will receive a $500 check! We can’t think of a better way to honor Zach and his contribution!


Finally, each one of the team here at FNC has gotten to know Zach on a personal level. He is one of us (a dubious distinction, but one he can now never escape) – and, he will be missed. Sure, he will still help us out occasionally, between his classes and all of the fun that comes with college life, but we will miss his presence with us. He has brought to our office an energy and presence that, simply put, has made all of us better people.

I can’t wait to see where he goes from here, but I know it is going to be amazing – and, I think that where it ends up may even be a surprise to Zach! Life is just like that. And, for someone like Zach, that’s what makes the journey so exciting.


Jerry Tapley, Executive Director of FNC

On Becoming Executive Director at FNC . . .

Since our founding in 1906, FNC has experienced many more changes than have ever been recorded or even remembered.  And, one day in the future, this change of leadership we are experiencing now will be a fading memory, eclipsed by a new reality brought on by even more change.

As I adjust to being the new Executive Director at FNC, it is helpful to put it into the larger perspective of a wider history so that I understand, when all is said and done, how inconsequential this moment really is.

For me, it is easy to view this as a monumental change in my own life and career and give myself a pat on the back for surviving this long.  But, I prefer to see this as a chance to draw from the wisdom of those before me and those here with me now.  I want to experience this in the realm of being one among many, dependent on the talents of those who are here with me.

While I smile and say “thank you” to those who congratulate me and wish me well in this new position – I am most appreciative of the words of support and partnership; of those people who remind me that this isn’t my journey, it is ours.

It has been announced today, monday, May 11th, 2015, that our previous chief operating officer, jerry tapley, will be taking over as the new executive director of the federation of neighborhood centers as diane cornman-levy steps down after eight years with the organization.

The world that existed and necessitated the creation of FNC in 1906 is different now.  The challenges of staying true to our mission while trying to also raise the funds to continue to operate are more difficult with each passing year.

In future blog posts, I will talk about our dreams, our goals and will share our outcomes.  Today, however, I just want to say thank you to each person on our team, to each partner at our table and to each individual who trusts us enough to participate in one of our programs or to volunteer at one of our sites.

You all are amazing.  And, you make me feel so tall.

Jerry Tapley


It has been announced today, monday, May 11th, 2015, that our previous chief operating officer, jerry tapley, will be taking over as the new executive director of the federation of neighborhood centers as diane cornman-levy steps down after eight years with the organization.

FNC 2014 Year in Review

The FNC team hard at work in our Walnut st. conference room.

The FNC team hard at work in our Walnut st. conference room.

The first of a new year is a great time to share a few brief highlights about what has been happening at FNC in 2014. This is a pivotal time in the history of FNC and with the adoption of our new strategic plan, we are working hard to identify and bring together stakeholders as partners creating significant change in many focus areas, including:

  • Urban youth programming
  • Urban farming
  • Individual, family and community health and nutrition
  • Returning citizens (reentry into society by former prisoners)
  • Workforce programming
  • Contextualized learning

. . . and many more!

2014 saw the end of our U.S. Department of Labor funded Philadelphia Solar Career Move program. A partnership between FNC, Philadelphia Works, the Smart Energy Initiative, JOIN and Jobs for the Future, the program was funded on the premise that the solar industry was about to experience unprecedented growth in the Philadelphia region. It became quickly evident that this was not the case. This reality could have easily ended the program before it was even off the ground. But with strategic thinking, strong partnerships and creative programming the program was realigned around those industries that will eventually feed the inevitable shift to solar – specifically, electrical and green construction. By the close of the program, we had accomplished a job placement rate of 85%! Of those, 92% reached six-month job retention. The average starting wage was $20.40 for men and an incredible $30.41 for women! And, once again we beat the odds!

group picture of solar

Solar Career Move

How often do all of these people sit down together as equals? How often do they sit down to collectively share knowledge, expertise, and experience along with pastors, doctors, artists, educators, community workers, youth, and men and women from all walks of life?

Marvin, a Solar Career Move participant, felt stuck in an administrative assistant position. He had a passion for solar energy and jumped at the chance to receive training through our program. He passed the difficult NABCEP Entry Level exam on his first try! In his determination to “make my resume stand out among my peers” he took advantage of other trainings through our program, including Asbestos Abatement, OS?HA 30 and Green Customer Service. Marvin was quickly able to find one of the rare solar jobs in the area and in the months after completing the program created safety plans for over 80 job sites, installed over 640 KW in residential solar, managed a team of 5 and designed various PV systems using formulas learned through our program. His most recent assignment is the installation of a 1 MW commercial solar system for a community college. He tells us, “I strongly feel that I could not have moved forward with my life at such an accelerated rate without the support of my friends at FNC and Solar Career Move!”

Did you know that as of this year, Teens 4 Good (T4G) has provided over 12 tons of food to needy families and individuals in Philadelphia? That is due to the hard work of the 583 teens who have worked with the program since its inception! This year, T4G added a nutrition specialist to the team – providing healthy cooking demonstrations and recipes at various food banks. Naysayers projected that people in the communities would not be interested in learning how to cook healthier meals. The opposite proved to be true – with parents eagerly awaiting the nutrition educator’s visits! Because of this, we now seek to fund a mobile teaching kitchen to bring nutrition education to more of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods!

This fall, Julian, a Teens 4 Good program participant in both the school year and summer program, completed his first semester at Community College of Philadelphia while remaining with T4G as the Market Manager. Through his experiences in T4G he was able to not only run the market stand independently, but trained other youth to assist him. Julian took pride and ownership of his work and proudly displayed the leadership skills he learned through the program.

2014 also saw a complete revamping of our BEST Training program. Originally created to provide Advanced Youth Development training to those who work with young people, Yoel Solís, our Education and Literacy Coordinator has completely restructured our program, updated our materials and created a series of training opportunities that will benefit youth workers all across the tri-state area! Upcoming sessions include:

  • Advancing Youth Development Community of Practice
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid Certification
  • LGBTQ 101-102 for Youth Workers (in partnership with The Attic Youth Center)

And, as FNC moves into a new era with a powerful and innovative new strategic plan in place, we are embracing the power of Collective Impact. Collective Impact is the commitment of a diverse group of players from different sectors to a common agenda for solving complex social problems. We have long understood that diverse partnerships lead to better, more streamlined services, but competition for funding often leads to isolated impact as agencies end up going it alone. However, Collective Impact changes the paradigm by embracing the concept that no single organization can create large-scale, lasting social change.

FNC is leading the charge in our region to create lasting solutions by coordinating the efforts of those in government, social services, businesses and philanthropy to work together around clearly defined goals. Currently, FNC is leading one Collective Impact effort that involves transforming Philadelphia’s reentry system for returning citizens, and is part of another initiative to build a sustainable, regional food system where all Philadelphians will have access to affordable, healthy food.

1901 S 9th Street, Bok room 212
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 982-2115