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Getting set for a 20th year of publishing

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Next year will be an exciting milestone for the Notebook, as the nonprofit will be celebrating 20 years of publishing. The main celebration will be the annual Turning the Page for Change event, which is just six months away. Staff members are already planning the big event, which will include student journalism awards, student musicians, exciting door prizes, and networking and conversation with some of the city’s most knowledgeable voices in public education.

The event will be Tuesday, June 10, 2014, from 4:30 to 7 p.m., at University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St.

The Notebook will be celebrating the successes it has had in covering Philadelphia’s public schools over the last two decades, while looking forward to many more years of empowering parents, students, educators, and others to help improve public education in the city.

The Notebook is seeking organizations and businesses to sponsor the event and individuals to serve on the host committee. If you would like to be a sponsor or host, or if you would like to volunteer to help plan the celebration, contact Tim Cravens, development director, at

Settling in to new digs

After being housed by Resources for Human Development for 19 years in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, the Notebook has been settling into new space at 699 Ranstead St. since an August move. If you are in the city, stop by and pay us a visit. We’d love to see you.

The Notebook chose this location because the office is upstairs from Philadelphia Community Access Media, better known as PhillyCAM, Philadelphia’s public access television studio. On PhillyCAM’s fourth anniversary in October, the Notebook participated in a special, daylong live television broadcast as contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa sat down with Superintendent William Hite for a half-hour interview. More collaborations are to come.

The Notebook has additional desk space in its offices to sublet to freelance writers or a small organization that can benefit from the synergies of co-locating in a nonprofit, public interest media space. The Notebook took on its first tenant in October. If you are in media and interested in subletting space, email Neeta Patel, associate director for operations, at

The Notebook is still in the process of establishing itself as an independent nonprofit. While awaiting approval from the Internal Revenue Service for its application as a tax-exempt nonprofit, it is operating under the fiscal sponsorship of the Investigative News Network, an association of the country’s leading nonprofit news organizations. Donations are still tax-deductible (see ad, p. 31).

House parties are back

The Notebook began holding house parties at the homes of supporters in spring 2012 to raise money, increase its membership, build connections among readers, and introduce itself to those not already familiar with it. Since then, there have been five house parties, and another round has begun.

The latest was Nov. 14 at the home of Angela McIver and Bill Jenkins in West Philadelphia. Notebook editor/director Paul Socolar and contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa discussed the District’s school funding crisis, and board chair Harold Jordan and board member Abigail Gray explained ways that attendees could support the Notebook. The crowd of 70 people included a mix of parents, educators, education activists, and the state representative for the neighborhood, James Roebuck. The event has raised more than $3,500 and recruited many new friends and supporters.

More house parties are planned throughout the coming year. If you are interested in co-hosting one or would like to attend, contact Notebook development director Tim Cravens at

High School Fair

The Notebook participated in the Philadelphia High School Fair on Nov. 16. The annual event had been canceled by the District earlier in the year in a money-saving move. But the fair was resurrected when Philadelphia School Partnership offered to underwrite it and worked with partner groups to plan it.

The fair had booths aimed at students and parents, providing information about admissions criteria, academic resources, extracurricular activities, and other programs for more than 80 high schools throughout the city.

The Notebook staffed a booth at the fair, talking to families and distributing copies of its annual Fall Guide to High Schools. The Notebook gave out 2,000 copies of the guide, which provides school profiles and data for the city’s public school options.

New faces on the board

The Notebook has two new board members – Maida Odom and Rochelle Nichols-Solomon.

Odom directs the internship and High School Journalism Workshop programs at Temple University, where she is a professor of public affairs reporting. An award-winning journalist, Odom spent 20 years as a writer at The Inquirer and worked as a regional correspondent for the Boston Globe. She also wrote for Opportunity Journal, a news magazine published by the National Urban League, before joining the Temple journalism faculty at Temple in 2006.

Nichols-Solomon was an original member of the Notebook’s advisory board at its founding in 1994. At that time she was director of the North Philadelphia Community Compact for College Access and Success, a collaboration aimed at smoothing transitions to higher education. Now she is the director for postsecondary success at FHI 360, Center for School and Community Services, where she continues to focus on increasing access to and success in college of underrepresented students. Her two daughters are graduates of Philadelphia public schools.

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