This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Ahead of Mayor Kenney’s push to create 25 "community schools," the Philadelphia School District is also working to make its schools hubs for community engagement.
On Tuesday, the District unveiled a new parent resource center inside Thomas Peirce Elementary in North Philadelphia.
Funded by a nearly $225,000 three-year grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, a once unused room in the school will become a workspace and technology center for parents in the community.
Superintendent William Hite said the District aims to give all of its schools such a space.
"We’re trying to update the resources in those rooms so that parents have access to things like how to enroll children in high schools, information about how they can help teach their children to read, do math, how they can become involved, how they can complete job applications themselves," he said.
The grant was awarded to the school because of the efforts of School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms’ advocacy group Parent Power — which has opened similar centers at nearby Murrell Dobbins High School and James G. Blaine Elementary.
As a North Philly resident, Simms says she knows too well the problems of the community. She hopes the new center will help parents break cycles of generational poverty.
‘What we want to do is help parents help themselves so they can better help their children," she said.
Simms’ sister Quibila Divine wrote the grant. Before a packed room of parents, District officials and political leaders, Divine couched the achievement as the latest in a decades-long career as an advocate for better public schools.