At an awards ceremony yesterday featuring breakfast burritos handmade by high school students, a cheer squad and a hip-hop dance troupe, GSK, the global pharmaceutical company, announced a three-year, $5 million IMPACT grant to support positive health outcomes for Philadelphia youth.
With The Food Trust at the helm, 10 organizations will collaborate to implement Get HYPE Philly!, a program that guides middle and high schools students to eat more nutritiously, exercise, and build healthier communities.
The Get HYPE (Healthy You. Positive Energy) Philly! program was born out of the Get Healthy Philly campaign. It was launched by the Philadelphia Health Department and has been operating for five years in 50 middle and high schools under the leadership of The Food Trust.
With the investment from GSK and a diverse group of stakeholders, Get HYPE Philly! is expected to reach 50,000 students in 100 schools over a three-year period.
Ranging in size and scope, the Get HYPE Philly! collaborators are Greener Partners, Common Market, the Village of Arts and Humanities, Norris Square Neighborhood Project, the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Youth Network, and The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation. An additional partner, Equal Measure, is tasked with evaluating the impact of the group’s work.
“We wanted to get together the dream team for this,” said Yael Lehmann, the executive director of The Food Trust, which hand-picked the collaborators.
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As the “backbone” organization, The Food Trust will direct funds to its partners, ranging from $80,000 to $200,000 per year. It will also support the establishment of a youth advisory board to award small grants for teen-led projects and help to plan two youth leadership summits per year.
Zakiyyah Boone, the associate executive director at the Columbia North YMCA, a branch included within the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA network, explained that being in the Get HYPE Philly! collaborative will allow it to expand.
While the YMCA currently reaches 200 youth, “we’ll at least double that number,” she said.
The Columbia North branch, located in North Philadelphia, will use the funds to boost programming, purchase more equipment, and offset the cost of some services, such as swim lessons.
Other partners, like the Village of Arts and Humanities and Norris Square Neighborhood Project, plan to grow their youth gardening programs; the Free Library and Philadelphia Youth Network will prepare students for the workforce through entrepreneurship and mentoring.
At the awards ceremony, students who currently participate in Get HYPE Philly! at their schools gave testimonials at the podium.
“Eating healthy is not like a fad or a trend, it’s a lifestyle that helps change lives,” said Abdur Paey, a seventh grader at Thomas Mifflin School in East Falls.
“I would like to keep doing this, and someday maybe go global,” he added.
GSK has long-term plans to bring its collaborative funding approach to other cities in the U.S.
After a successful start in Denver, the first city to be awarded a collaborative funding grant, the company sought to impact young people in Philadelphia, according to Becki Lynch, GSK’s manager of community partnerships.
“We’re looking to see some positive health outcomes,” Lynch said, noting that some of the award is purposely designated to evaluate the impact of the program.
The $5 million IMPACT grant to implement Get HYPE Philly! was drawn from a fund established by GSK to benefit Philadelphia’s young people. It is administered by The Philadelphia Foundation.-30-
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