On November 2 representatives from the Spruce Foundation’s Board of Directors attended The Please Touch Museum’s Imagination Ball, where Spruce was presented with the museum’s first-ever Young Philanthropy Award.

The award was created by the Please Touch Museum to recognize “local organizations and individuals for their exceptional commitment to empowering the next generation of philanthropists.” The museum recognized Spruce for “creating a cycle of service and goodwill, which begins at [the Spruce Foundation’s] core and spreads to the many worthy organizations it touches.”

Accepting the Young Philanthropy Award on behalf of Spruce were Eliza Erickson, President, and Jeanette Bruno, Vice President of Operations. Speaking in front of the Imagination Ball’s 250 attendees, Eliza and Jeanette recognized the dedication of dozens of board and committee members over the past decade of Spruce history, the impactful work of Spruce’s grantees, and the commitment both groups have made to improving the lives of Philadelphia’s youth.

Also honored at the event were PECO, accepting the Corporate Philanthropy Award, and the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, which accepted the Portia & Otto Sperr Legacy Award.

For Spruce to be recognized in the company of two such respected and longstanding organizations is a sure sign of the impact the organization has had in its first ten years, and of its having earned a place in the larger philanthropic community through grassroots efforts.

Philadelphia is full of young people finding creative and gratifying ways to give back to their communities. Spruce is proud to use this little corner of our newsletter to highlight some of the best and busiest young philanthropists in the city!

We were lucky enough to sit down with Lily Applebaum, a 27-year-old who works at literary arts center Kelly Writers House. Lily moved to Philadelphia in 2008 to go to college and decided to stick around after graduation, in part because she felt she wanted to get to know the city even better, culturally and socially. “It just feels like you can find your place here,” she says. She also loved the size of the city, which allows her to feel ownership and investment while also keeping her on her toes: “It’s big enough that there are still parts of it I’m exploring and learning about, but small enough that I see people I know all the time.”

When she’s not at work, Lily can usually be found baking, gardening, attending Kate Bush dance parties—or serving as an assistant in an immersive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class for adults at the Aquinas Center in South Philadelphia. She found out about the opportunity when her friend, who taught the class, posted on Facebook that she was looking for volunteers. Lily had already had some experience tutoring ESL in high school, and when she learned about the opportunity, it felt serendipitous—she was spending more and more time in the neighborhood where the Aquinas Center was located, and it was important to her to give back to the people she was spending time around.

The class does help its students master grammar and reading comprehension, and seeing students make progress is gratifying. But one of the things Lily finds most rewarding about volunteer teaching is that the class is student-centered and collaborative. “We really try to teach the content that students want to know,” she says. This past summer, some students had expressed interest in learning about Philadelphia history—so Lily and the other teachers organized a unit that explored the rich immigration history of the very neighborhood in which the class was taking place.

Her students come from many countries of origin—Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Indonesia—and they live just blocks from the historic Italian Market, a neighborhood populated largely with the descendants of Italian and Irish immigrants. “I do see some pushback from certain families who immigrated much longer ago,” Lily admits. “A full mastery of English will help [our students] have an even bigger voice against those forces. It’s important to focus on a student-led way to give them the tools they need to fight for their place in this city.”

Teaching isn’t the only thing Lily does in the way of community service, though. Some of her other pursuits require her to get her hands a little dirtier. She’s a volunteer grave gardener at the Woodlands, a 54-acre historical site in West Philadelphia whose ample green space encloses a 19th-century cemetery. Many of the graves are “cradle graves”—built with a tub shape in front of the headstone and meant to be treated as plots to be gardened—that have been neglected for decades. But volunteer grave gardeners beautify the ground by “adopting” a neglected grave and revivifying it by tending to Victorian-era plants. Lily finds it gratifying not just to watch flowers bloom, but also to invest in beautifying the park and, ultimately, to make it more inviting for community members and neighbors who may not know that they’re allowed to explore the grounds. “I get to be a steward of the space and get involved in its care and continuing growth,” she says.

Lily has a number of causes she always supports financially: immigrant rights and environmental justice, to be sure, as well as reproductive health access and LGBTQ youth support. But she also feels it’s important to help break down the barriers that people—especially young people—feel around giving donations. So a few years ago, Lily started organizing small events—brunches and picnics—that she would prepare herself, in or around her own home. At these gatherings, she asks guests to Venmo her $10 or more, and at the end, she donates the proceeds to an organization in need. Last month, she made waffles, and she and her friends were able to donate $200 to Hurricane Harvey relief funds. “You’re bringing everyone together to do something fun, but you can’t help talking about the cause that you’re coming together for, and you’re also creating community,” she says. The events allow her to leverage her own interests and talents to give back to her community in an impactful way: “I find them easy to organize, in a very chill, casual way that people find it easy to get into. And it combines two of my favorite things: bringing my friends together, and feeding them.”

So how does Lily think that young philanthropists can get started? Do some research on the nonprofits and cultural institutions in your area. “Knowing about them is a really good way to understand what’s going on in your neighborhood, and how you can help out,” she says. She says that even keeping yourself aware of the issues you care about helps you lay the groundwork for getting involved. “Philanthropy, to me, is about being connected with the city and even the neighborhood that you live in.”

Earlier this year, Spruce was proud to celebrate its 10th anniversary by offering a one-time $5,000 grant to an organization that serves Philadelphia youth in the area of Peacebuilding. In April, we awarded that grant to Peace Day Philly in support of their partnership with Peace Praxis to offer a workshop to youth ages 12-17 on building upstander skills.

Recently we caught up with Peace Day Philly’s founder, Lisa D. Parker, to hear a little more about her organization and cause.

Where did the idea start for Peace Day Philly?

I saw a movie on the BBC in 2009 about the United Nations’ International Day of Peace and the film inspired me to talk to a few people about how we could bring the International Day of Peace to Philadelphia. Things really started moving in the spring of 2011. In that first year we had three events which were a Skype between [University of Pennsylvania] students and youth in Egypt, two seminars we called peace talks, and a multicultural concert.

Have you seen opportunities for technology to play a role in the practice of peacebuilding?

I think there are great things that happen through social media. It helps get the word out quickly if you have a good network, and you can connect with people across the world. Without Skype or Facebook, I would never know what someone in Kuwait is doing, or someone in Australia, or even Cambodia.

For example, the Peace Crane Project teaches kids to make peace cranes and then they send the cranes to kids in other parts of the world. One of the peace crane people was just in Cambodia and she made this short video of the kids saying hi. Just having that video made it so much more meaningful for the Cambodian kids living here. Having access to that technology on your phone breaks down the barriers that make us feel far away from each other.

What kind of organizations usually sign on to partner with Peace Day Philly’s week of activities?

The most wide ranging partner is the Philadelphia Police Department. For every PPD district across the city there’s a community relations officer who is thinking about what would be most meaningful in their district. We also have social service organizations, educational organizations, some anti-violence groups, some groups that relate to world level issues like nuclear nonproliferation, or the environment, and some offices within the city government.

What are some ways that people perceive the impact of your work with the organization?

We really try to connect with people who have a skill in teaching or training. It’s easy for us to say, “We should have a more peaceful world,” but it’s important to have some substance in our programs so people are either learning a new skill, they’re learning knowledge, [or] they’re connecting with one another. If we can do that, then we really feel like there is impact to that.

Have you noticed a change in the way people have engaged with your programming in light of current events?

People are more activated than they’ve been. More and more, everyday citizens are getting involved in causes that are important to them rather than just being on the sidelines. People get interested in asking, “What can I do to be involved and make the world a better place?”

That’s helped us in terms of people wanting to come out to the programs, for sure. I do think there’s always skepticism. The first question the press usually asks is, “Do you think there have been fewer gun violence deaths because of Peace Day Philly?” You wouldn’t measure any other initiative to that standard of being able to stop a homicide. I think the fundamental thing is that we talk about personal, local, and global peace, but peace starts with the individual. It starts internally.

What have been some of the more powerful responses to the workshops and events that you have organized through Peace Day Philly?

The most powerful moments are when people connect human being to human being. When we get connected to that sense of our own shared humanity, that goes beyond language or culture or race. Emotionally, those have been some of the most powerful moments, when people have felt safe to stand up and say something about their experience coming here as a refugee, or a youth who was depressed. Just people opening up in such courageous ways, and feeling like I have the privilege to connect with them and talk with them.

If you’re interested in learning more about Peace Day Philly, check out their website and find out about their events, or just follow them on Facebook or Twitter and shout them out for doing some really great work!

NOTE: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Spruce Foundation is proud to announce that its 2017 Peacebuilding Grant will be awarded to Peace Day Philly, a volunteer initiative designed to empower people to build a more peaceful and just world. The $5,000 grant supports Peace Day Philly’s partnership with PeacePraxis to offer a workshop on building upstander skills to Philadelphia youth ages 12-17, and to educators and counselors working with this population of youth.

The Peace Day Philly project is relatively new—started in 2011, and incorporated as a nonprofit in 2013—but has made an indelible impact on the City of Philadelphia. Each September, the organization coordinates workshops, events, and talks across the city in honor of the International Day of Peace, focusing citywide efforts on peaceable practice. So far, Peace Day Philly has collaborated or partnered with more than 150 Philadelphia-area organizations to offer programs featuring themes of social justice, bystander intervention, and compassionate interfaith and intercultural exchange.

The board members of the Spruce Foundation are especially pleased to grant Spruce’s very first Peacebuilding Grant to Peace Day Philly, which has worked for the express purpose of Philadelphia-area peacebuilding since its inception.

“The Spruce Foundation is so excited to be able to support peace-building efforts in Philadelphia, and we couldn’t be prouder to fund the incredible work of Peace Day Philly with this inaugural grant. We were impressed by the collaborative efforts of the organization and the positive, robust volunteer culture that they’ve created in our City, and their peace-building workshops are truly a perfect fit for the type of project we imagined funding with this grant. The board is thrilled to see what Peace Day 2017 brings to Philadelphia,” said Eliza Erickson, President of the Spruce Foundation.

Peace Day Philly will collect its grant—alongside Spruce’s other 2017 awardees, in the focus areas of Arts, Education, Health and Wellness, and LGBTQ—at the annual Spruce Gala, which is to take place on Friday, April 21, at the Center for Architecture and Design at 1218 Arch Street. Tickets are $85 and are available here.

The Spruce Foundation is proud to announce that its 2017 LGBTQ Grant will be awarded to The Attic Youth Center, the city’s only agency exclusively serving LGBTQ youth. The $5,000 grant supports Inner Rhythms, a new music therapy group focused on creative expression and personal storytelling; the project will engage both a professional music therapist and The Attic’s own clinical staff.

The Attic Youth Center was started in 1993 as an 8-week pilot project to offer safe spaces to underserved LGBTQ adolescents. Now an independent, multi-service youth agency, The Attic offers mental health services, wellness screening and support, and life skills programming such as job readiness trainings and enrichment classes, as well as best practice support for agencies looking to enhance their services to LGBTQ youth. Its curriculum is designed to empower its youth participants to become community leaders, and to help direct and support programming.

The board members of the Spruce Foundation are especially pleased to support The Attic Youth Center because of its commitment to understanding the specific vulnerabilities of its target audience, and addressing those risks by helping LGBTQ youth to develop a healthy sense of identity along with practical life skills.

“One of the things that the Board really appreciated about The Attic’s proposal was the fact that the organization put together a program based on what their youth wanted,” says Eliza Erickson, President of the Spruce Foundation. “The collaboration between staff and young people made us feel like we were supporting an initiative that would be meaningful and appreciated by the people who need it the most.”

The Attic Youth Center will collect its grant—alongside Spruce’s other 2017 awardees, in the focus areas of Arts Education, Health and Wellness, and Peacebuilding—at the annual Spruce Gala, which is to take place later this week on Friday, April 21 at the Center for Architecture and Design at 1218 Arch Street. Tickets are $85 and are available here.

The Spruce Foundation is proud to announce that its 2017 Health & Wellness Grant will be awarded to the Center for Grieving Children, whose child-focused programs assist in safe grief processing after the loss of a loved one, and aim to strengthen support systems for children affected by grief. The $5,000 grant supports the organization’s school-based grief support programs, which provide free school-day group counseling sessions designed at empowering grieving children through the healing process, emphasizing resiliency and healthy emotional expression.

Established in 1995, originally as a project of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, the Center for Grieving Children now has its own East Falls center and offers site-based programs across the city, including in-school programs at 20% of Philadelphia’s public and charter schools. In addition to its counseling services oriented toward grieving children themselves, the Center also offers support to district and institutional partners in order to strengthen community response to grief and to mitigate the behavioral risks for already vulnerable youth.

The board members of the Spruce Foundation feel that the Center for Grieving Children addresses a particularly pressing need; nearly one-third of their in-school support group participants report grieving the loss of a loved one to violent crime.

“We are proud to support an organization that so effectively addresses the mental and emotional health of young people,” says Eliza Erickson, President of the Spruce Foundation, “and we’re excited to grow both our and the Center’s impact by allowing them to expand their programming into three additional schools in the next year.”

The Center for Grieving Children will collect its grant—alongside Spruce’s other 2017 awardees, in the focus areas of Arts, Education, LGBTQ, and Peacebuilding—at the annual Spruce Gala, which is to take place on Friday, April 21 at the Center for Architecture and Design at 1218 Arch Street. Tickets are $85 and are available here

We at Spruce Foundation are proud to announce our 2017 Gala event. This year, we’re jazzed about our 10-year anniversary—and that, thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’re able to provide $25,000 to Philadelphia nonprofits serving at-risk youth.

Spruce Gala—which will take place on April 21 this year at the Center for Architecture and Design—draws young professionals from all over the city into a night of drinks, fun, and laughter. If you don’t believe us, check out our Facebook page for pics. Gone are the days of stuffy black tie affairs!

The Spruce Foundation’s 2017 Gala lets young people celebrate their ability to effect change through philanthropy. It begins with buying a ticket—the proceeds of which fund our grants—and extends through the opportunity to network and socialize with leaders in the business and nonprofit communities over heavy appetizers from sponsors like 12th Street Catering, Insomnia Cookies, and scoops from the Little Baby’s Ice Cream cart. Our open bar will also be stocked with tasty drinks from Yuengling, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Boardroom Spirits, and Flying Fish Brewing Company.

Reaching this point in the year is a highlight to many board members for Spruce Foundation. Events Committee Chair Andrea Highbloom notes: “Gala is truly the culmination of Spruce’s work throughout year, and showcases both our deserving grantees and the amazing network of your professionals engaged with philanthropy in Philadelphia. I’m especially looking forward to connecting with alumni of the Spruce board from the past 10 years, and with all of the new faces who are getting involved with Spruce for the first time this year.”

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Spruce Foundation’s 2017 Gala will take place on Friday, April 21, 2017, 8pm, at the Center for Architecture & Design
  • The new 2017 Grantees in the categories of Arts, Education, LGBTQ, Health & Wellness, and Peacebuilding will formally receive recognition for their $5,000 grants
  • Spruce Foundation’s 2017 Gala is sponsored by 12th Street Catering, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Boardroom Spirits, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Insomnia Cookies, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Yuengling, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Urban Stems, & Yuengling

About Spruce Foundation: Spruce Foundation is an all-volunteer, next-gen-led non-profit based in Philadelphia. Spruce is focused on cultivating the next generation of philanthropists through community giving and grantmaking in support of Philadelphia’s youth. In 2016, the Spruce Foundation proudly supported the following Philadelphia-based organizations: Portside Arts Center, Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Greener Partners, and Girls Rock Philly.

To request additional information or high-resolution imagery, schedule interviews with Spruce Foundation Board members, or learn about upcoming partnership opportunities, please contact the Communication Committee (communications@sprucefoundation.org). Thank you!

 

Spruce Foundation is proud to announce that its 2017 Arts Grant will be awarded to Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, which works to celebrate diversity and teach about Arab culture through arts programming. The $5,000 grant supports the Tabadul program, a series of after-school community dialogue sessions and in-school workshops led by teaching artists in photography, music, and poetry, all of which will be aimed at promoting cross-cultural exchange. (“Tabadul” means “exchange” in Arabic.) The workshops will engage students at Northeast High School, one of the most diverse high schools in the nation.

For fifteen years, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture has offered diverse audiences of youth and adults exposure to the art, language, and culture of the Arab world. Their programs build peaceful and respectful paths for bridging differences, and promote cross-cultural understanding and positive social change. Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture leverages a participatory mode of learning in order to engage and include its audience members, emphasizing commonality and shared value even as it celebrates uniqueness.

In a year in which the Spruce Foundation has shifted its priorities to include peacebuilding efforts, its board is especially pleased to award the Arts Grant to a project so focused on the way in which art can be deployed for social good.

“The mission of the Tabadul program really resonates with our board,” says Eliza Erickson, President of the Spruce Foundation. “Being able to support an initiative that combines youth, cultural understanding, art and community engagement is especially meaningful and powerful this year, and the Spruce Foundation is thrilled to be able to facilitate the work of such a unique program.”

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture will collect its grant—alongside Spruce’s other 2017 awardees, in the focus areas of Education, Health and Wellness, LGBTQ, and Peacebuilding—at the annual Spruce Gala, which is to take place on Friday, April 21 at the Center for Architecture and Design at 1218 Arch Street. Tickets are $85 and are available here.


The Spruce Foundation is proud to announce that its 2017 Education Grant will be awarded to Urban Creators, a youth-driven organization inspiring social change through food, art, and education.
The $5,000 grant supports the organization’s new Youth Apprentice Program, which will provide ten North Philadelphia young people with year-round leadership training and mentorship, and will employ them in their home base, the Life Do Grow Farm. Apprentices will grow and distribute produce, and will curate a slate of dynamic public events and educational programs designed to engage fellow neighborhood youth.

Founded in 2010, Urban Creators addresses blight, youth crime rates, and public health concerns simultaneously through community development. The organization revitalizes neglected landscapes, transforming them into safe spaces and urban gardens, and engages local youth to work the farms and to provide access to fresh local food to neighborhood families. Urban Creators is dedicated to hiring at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth as part of its work to stabilize the community and reduce recidivism; since 2008, violent crime has dropped by 40% in the area immediately surrounding their flagship Life Do Grow farm.

The board members of the Spruce Foundation are especially pleased to support Urban Creators because of its innovative approach to community development, and its hands-on, place-based learning opportunities for Philly youth.

“We were so impressed by Urban Creators’ unique approach to education and their dedication to empowering young people to become leaders in their neighborhoods,” says Eliza Erickson, president of the Spruce Foundation. “Spruce tries to support emerging organizations whenever possible, and we really felt like our grant could help allow Urban Creators to achieve the next level of impact with their important work.”

Urban Creators will collect its grant—alongside Spruce’s other 2017 awardees, in the focus areas of Arts, Health and Wellness, LGBTQ, and Peacebuilding—at the annual Spruce Gala, which is to take place on Friday, April 21 at the Center for Architecture and Design at 1218 Arch Street. Tickets are $85 and are available here.

Mark your calendars for April 21, 2017, and join us for Spruce Gala at the Center for Architecture and Design. Tickets are now on sale at the incredible Early Bird rate of only $75, with sales helping to support the $5,000 grants Spruce will give — at Gala — to five nonprofits serving the city’s youth in the areas of Education, Arts, Health & Wellness, LGBTQ, and Peacebuilding.

In addition to giving you a chance to make a difference, Spruce Gala also gives you the chance to simply have a really good time. You’ll get to enjoy delicious heavy apps from 12th Street Catering, incredible cookies from Insomnia, scoops from the Little Baby’s Ice Cream cart … and did we mention there’s an open bar? Plus you get to network with Philadelphia’s philanthropic leaders and changemakers!

So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets today!

Special thanks to our sponsors: Flying Fish Brewing Co., Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Yards Brewing Co., Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Yuengling, Insomnia Cookies, and Little Baby’s Ice Cream.

Interested in sponsoring or donating to our annual gala? Email us at events@sprucefoundation.org!