Youth Service, Inc. (YSI) and People’s Emergency Center (PEC), teamed up and gave away headsets, school supplies, books and bookbags to 70 school-aged children and youth on Wednesday, September 23, at PEC’s creative placemaking site The Bank (3750 Lancaster Avenue).

YSI and PEC also helped families to connect to other resources that they offer, such as parenting education, homelessness prevention grants, food relief, high quality early childhood education, one on one remote computer classes, early childhood caregiver activities, and more. The West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning outreach team was on hand to talk about the importance of literacy in a young child’s life and getting all students to read at grade level by third grade. To maintain physical distancing, families checked in one at a time, selected bookbags, and then selected the items they needed such as crayons, pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, and headsets. The first 10 families also received an extra book bag with healthy shelf stable snacks and puzzles from the Please Touch Museum and Giant.

Gwen Bailey, Executive Director of YSI, was on hand to greet families. “We are so glad to be here today to provide supports and resources to the community. We work with families with children of all ages and we know how important it is at this time to help students go back to school ready to learn.”

“There are 1,500 children and youth who experience homelessness every day in Philadelphia, and that is the most conservative estimate,” said Jacqueline Flynn, PEC’s Vice President of Business and Resource Development. “Schools in our neighborhood serve many students who also experience housing insecurity and hunger, known to be barriers to learning,” she added.

Since August PEC and YSI have distributed nearly 600 backpacks and 130 headsets to students in need, provided safe spaces to learn for 150 students living in shelter,  and connected 500 families to essential learning resources during back to school— including school district information, learning resources, internet access, activities, and healthy meals.