Lenfest ED Stacy Holland has 3 big ideas that could change Philly's education system - Generocity Philly


Aug. 12, 2016 8:12 am

Lenfest ED Stacy Holland has 3 big ideas that could change Philly’s education system

In which we revisit Holland's 2015 TEDxPhiladelphia talk. The most important takeaway? Most Philadelphians' perceptions of the school system is all wrong.

Stacy Holland takes the TEDxPhiladelphia stage in 2016.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Stacy Holland had an obsession with figuring out what’s wrong with Philly’s education system, and it began by realizing one of her own failures.

That failure was manifested in a brief reunion with a student the Lenfest Foundation executive director believed she had prepped for college success. She reminisced on the experience in her TEDxPhiladelphia talk last year.

He wasn’t the greatest student, but he had the potential to succeed. He didn’t. She quickly found out he was in the same situation she left him in, even holding down the same menial gig she had helped him land in high school.

“He was a young man that was living in such horrible conditions of poverty. He wasn’t poor, he was po — he couldn’t even afford the O and the R,” she said at TEDxPhiladelphia last year (an allusion to rapper Big L‘s “Lifestylez Ov Da Poor And Dangerous“).

When Holland took a job with the School District of Philadelphia in 2013 (something she said she’d “never, ever do”), she began to see positive things about Philly’s school system, or “pockets of brilliance” — mentorship programs such as Steppingstone Scholars and community support organizations such as Friends of groups.

Holland proposed Philadelphians adopt “three big ideas” when talking about creating a best-in-class school system in Philadelphia.

  • Speak into existence that we deserve a high quality public education system. “We have to demand it. It is no longer an option. If we don’t speak hope, aspiration and love into these schools … they will become what they are.”
  • Schooling begins with adults. “Adults, you must change your behavior. It all starts with us. Children are nothing more than the victims of the circumstance that we the adults create. We say their schools are bad, so they’re bad. So you have to stop saying it.”
  • Persevere. “These changes will take years. You cannot quit. We have to stop reforming and start re-engineering. We have to start rebuilding the different pieces of our system.”

Most importantly, Holland said, don’t be critical unless you’re willing to do something about it. See the possibility and potential in Philadelphia’s youth and ask yourself what you’re doing to help them get there.

From our Partners

“That can be as simple as having a positive word to say.”


From our Partners

Power moves: So many changes across the sector in Jan. and Feb.

What did ‘A Better Chicago’ do for poverty that could work in Philadelphia?

5 ways for teachers to build a good rapport with their students online


Generocity Philly

Inscripción Doble en Congreso: Lo que trae el futuro

1515 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19102

City of Philadelphia, Rebuild

Director of Evaluation and Learning

Apply Now
Remote; from home office

New Horizons Senior Center

Communications Assistant

Apply Now
Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd

JFCS of Greater Philadelphia

Youth Engagement Program Coordinator

Apply Now

Hidden figures: The corps of young people helping build stronger educational networks

Omar Woodard announces he will be leaving GreenLight Fund in March

Philly’s hidden figures: They’ve been doing crucial and stellar work for years


Generocity Philly

Dual Enrollment at Congreso: Where does it go from here?

Philadelphia, PA

United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey

Chief Knowledge Officer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Campus Philly


Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

The Pew Charitable Trusts

Senior Officer Pew Fund

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity