Teen Leadership Corps at Awbury Arboretum

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Teen Leadership Corps at Awbury Arboretum

Philadelphia, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

An after school & summer program for high school students set on an urban farm in a 55- acre arboretum in the heart of inner city Philadelphia. Students learn and practice the skills needed to build their own social venture food businesses with other teens: urban grown & raised.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

what if teens in an impoverished neighborhood could grow and cook food for themselves and their neighbors
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Lack of meaningful, useful opportunities for inner city teens to devlop job and life skills to support their best futures. Underfunded public high schools, neighborhood and family poverty and food injustice.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To offer our youth meaningful job training opportunities and service learning work around food, health and hunger. Our program on an urban farm is a holistic approach to hands on learning and community building. Our curriculum is unique blend of job skills development in hospitality, small business start-ups and a soft and hard science skills in biology, agronomy, economics, horticulture and kitchen chemistry. Youth will work directly with food professionals, botanists, urban farmers, landscape staff, and educators to assist to plan, grow, harvest and produce products for sale.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our pilot group of students planned and built our market garden and created a "stone soup" product that we can eat for group meals, share with local social service agencies and sell at a local farm market. Together they used their own hands to help grow and prepare food for neighbors in need. They also learned about budgeting, growing and cooking food and how a group working together can identify a need and create a solution to a problem.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Our initial group of 22 students has fed themselves and their families dozens of meals. We have co-created a summer program that many in the initial group will staff and serve as mentors to the incoming group. This project has built momentum and has support of a wide group of neighborhood activists and volunteers. We have several other products in the pipeline that students are test marketing and hope to grow and sell this summer and next school year.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We need to do a certain amount of ongoing fundraising each year to cover some of the staff costs and supplies. Our teen led micro-enterprises and social venture businesses generate income to pay stipends to the youth, but are insufficient to pay the adult staff for their time. The arboretum has made a commitment to be our home - providing us land and use of the teaching kitchen at only the cost for water and electricity.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many farm/food based projects that bring teens together to grow and sell food. We are somewhat unique in that we have a kitchen on site and integrate basic cooking, household budgeting, "value-added" food production and business planning into our program. We are also trying to be "place-based" meaning we are targeting teens that live nearby to train and work within their own neighborhood.
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, PA, Philadelphia

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