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Mar. 25, 2016 12:43 pm

Keep Philly Beautiful wants to bring national best practices to local neighborhoods

The nonprofit will look to expand its education efforts and rally neighborhoods in 2016.

Keeping Philadelphia beautiful.

(Courtesy photo)

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful just released its annual report for 2015, and you might note a few changes in the metrics between 2013-2014 and 2015.

For one, 2015 tracks four new metrics — some, like the amount of trash collected, are measured differently (438 bags of trash collected in ’13 and ’14 compared to the 7,000 pounds of trash collected in ’15). But take a look at some of the the numbers for those two years against this past year:

  • $13,000 raised and distributed for beautification efforts in 2015. In 2013-2014, that number was $40,000.
  • 250 volunteers engaged in 2015. This is down from 816 between 2013-2014.
  • 2,135 students reached in 2015. In 2013-2014 together, the nonprofit reached 1,629 students.

Here’s what’s up with that last metric: Over the last year, KPB has honed in on its education programming.

“Between last year and this year, we were able to really create a system, a process and a full comprehensive program around reaching out to students with the power of volunteer educators,” said Executive Director Michelle Feldman. “In 2016, we’re teaming up with the School District, the Streets Department and other outreach partners to do presentations in a targeted 40 schools.”

For 2016, Feldman hopes to reach 3,000 students. In addition to clean-up work, education seems to be the name of the game for KPB. And it’s not just students — Feldman is taking it to the neighborhoods.

“We don’t want to recreate the wheel,” she said. “There are so many amazing neighborhood organizations doing great work around the city and we want to support them rather than step on toes or be redundant.”

KPB does that partially through its Community Cleanup Resource Guide (now in its second edition) and through partnerships with the School District, Streets Department, Commerce Department, Philadelphia Association of CDCs and the Local Initiative Support Corporation to begin regular neighborhood meetings around litter.

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Neighborhood leaders “meet all the time, and they don’t necessarily meet around litter. I wanted to fill that void,” Feldman said. “Let’s get people in a room to talk about what’s worked, to talk about shared challenges and hopefully talk about ways to work together to address those shared challenges.”

That will be supported through a best practices project with Keep America Beautiful. Feldman hopes that initiative will wrap up by the end of the year.

“If we’re talking about best practices here on the ground in Philadelphia and trying to share them, can we also be spreading best practices from urban Keep America Beautiful affiliates throughout the country,” she said.

To boot, KPB’s microgrant program has doubled from $2,500 to $5,000.

“We did three grants last year,” said Feldman. “We’ll be doing more grants this year with a bigger pot of money.”

And the cleanups are still happening. The next will be April 9 in Olney, with another in Hunting Park on Earth Day.

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Tony Abraham

Tony Abraham is Technically Media's special projects reporter, where he regularly writes for Generocity. He's a former reporter for Technical.ly in Delaware and Philly and a Philly News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." A proud native of Allentown, Pa., the Temple University alumnus calls Fishtown home.

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