SouthEast Philadelphia Collaborative (SEPC)
January 5, 2011
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by Andrew Pack
From 2005 to 2009, I served with the SouthEast Philadelphia Collaborative (SEPC) in the various capacities of Vice Chair, Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee, and Executive Committee Member. Founded in 1999, SEPC organizes after-school programs in Southeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pooling the resources of nine youth-oriented organizations. Member agencies affiliated with SEPC include Variety, The Children’s Charity of Greater Philadelphia; Pennsylvania’s Migrant Education Program; and the Fleisher Art Memorial. SEPC provides the Southeast Philadelphia community a distinct benefit through its Teen Lounges, which are drop-in centers offering youth a safe and educational place to spend time after school. Free of cost and commitment, the Teen Lounges provide tutoring and SAT prep on regular weekdays. They also offer break dancing classes and open arts projects. Unlike many organizations, SEPC involves teen members directly in program planning, implementation, and evaluation through the Youth Leadership Council (YLC). The council partners with Teens for Good as part of its commitment to environmental justice, operating a community garden that donates food to local stores, residents, and restaurants. The YLC also maintains its own orchard trees in cooperation with the Philadelphia Orchard Project, and teams with the Philadelphia Urban Food & Fitness Alliance to improve students’ access to nutritious school food and safe exercise equipment. The teen YLC staff and the adult SEPC staff meet once a week to coordinate activities. I support SEPC’s community activities, notably at Mifflin Park in Southeast Philadelphia, where the organization helps refurbish one of the city’s most neglected parks. SEPC has joined other community members on weekends for more than a year, picking up trash, recycling, and repainting park benches. Another successful SEPC event was its 2010 Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative After School Idol Talent Show. Drawing a crowd of 350 spectators, SEPC youth gave energetic performances for the community members who turned out to support them. I recommend visiting the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative on the Web at www.SEPhillyYouth.com, and discovering ways of getting involved with this vibrant organization.