West Philly High to Orleans Technical College

Last Thursday on 2/28, Promise Corps at West Philadelphia High School made a very memorable trip to Orleans Technical College, a private technical school run by the JEVS Human Services agency. Nine students attended, and our architecture teacher Jess McCollum kindly volunteered to help chaperone. Our team member Jada Grice took the lead in organizing this trip – thank you Jada!

We started the day at 8am with breakfast generously sponsored by Manhattan Bagels’ end-of-day donation program. The bagels were chewy and pristine, and really helped fuel us for the day.


We arrived late morning at Orleans Tech, a crisp, inviting space, and were greeted warmly by staff at the school We went on to attend a helpful introductory session. We got an overview of the five Building and Construction trades Orleans Tech offers training programs in: Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating, Building Maintenance, Carpentry, Plumbing and Heating, and Electricity. 

or5We also learned that there are expected to be 70,000 new jobs in these fields in the coming years – now is the time to be in the building trades! And as an accredited institution, Orleans Tech is a reliable pipeline towards such careers. Admission to the program has just two prerequisites: a high school diploma and very importantly, PASSION.

Next we toured the various labs and work spaces at the school, buoyed by such exciting training prospects. There was also a career fair going on, so we got to see the lively recruitment process first-hand – a lucky coincidence!

or2Each room was a new adventure. Our guide Dennis showed us the nitty-gritty of how things works, gave industry updates, and shared fun anecdotes. Do you like math and are you good with heights? Then you’d do well in our electricity program. 

For the rest of our visit, we returned to the seminar room where the introductory session was held. Over lunch Promise Corps presented a local workforce module. It was an interactive session about professional networking, job searching, and traditional vs. non-traditional careers. 

“It was a nice trip.”, says Makel, 11th grade. “I’ve visited colleges before but never a technical college. I think I’d do carpentry…I like building with my hands. It looks fun to me, something I would wanna do.” 


– Ivy Tse, College and Career Coach at West Philly High


Service in the Name of the Great MLK  

On January 20, 2019, all four Promise Corps teams came together and spent our day off from our sites honoring the name and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. We did this by participating in a day of service with the organization Caring for Friends. This organization, located in the Northeast area of Philadelphia, does a great deal of work to provide meals and snacks to demographics in need all throughout the Philadelphia Area. As a Promise Corps unit, we prepared and packed over 20 boxes of snack bags for people in need around the city. In a few short hours, we helped impact the lives of over 500 people through “sharing food and friendship” as the organization describes on their website.

The joy and reflection of service and love to all resonated well after we finished our morning of service, as our team sat together at lunch to discuss our selected reading of Dear Martin by Nic Stone. The novel follows a young man getting ready to graduate high school, who writes letters to Martin Luther King Jr. to understand and cope with the chaos that follows him as he navigates his senior year. After our discussion, we followed suit by taking a careful look into the life of MLK and enlightened ourselves on just a few of the many amazing things that he accomplished and the of non-violence ideals that the preached before his passing.



Ciera M. Osborne- College and Career Coach at Sayre High School



College Visit at Rutgers University

This Tuesday, Promise Corps at West Philadelphia High School travelled to Rutgers University, New Brunswick for our first college visit of the year. We brought a cohort of 23 motivated students whom we work with everyday, and Mr. Barney, who kindly volunteered to be our faculty chaperone. Roland Lucas, our team member and an alumni of Rutgers, organized the entire trip – thank you Roland! 

We started the day at 6:30, shared granola bars and donuts, and boarded the bus. Spirits were high in anticipation of an exciting day.

We arrived late morning at the Visitors Center, where we attended a half hour information session led by an admissions officer. Students were alert and attentive during the session. We  learned valuable information about academic opportunities, student life, and the admissions process at Rutgers. For example, Rutgers has a full-functioning farm on campus – who knew!
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Next was a bus tour led by student tour guides called Scarlet Ambassadors: Christina and Devin. In 90 minutes, we got to see all five of Rutgers campuses: Busch, College Avenue, Cook, Douglass, and Livingston. Besides a beautiful drive, highlights include the football stadium, basketball court, and the swanky engineering buildings. Our Scarlet Ambassadors were great as well – it helped to get insiders’ perspectives and fun anecdotes.

Our final stop was the Yard, a dining spot that is popular among Rutgers students. Lunch was generously sponsored by Surf Tacos – students thoroughly enjoyed the fresh and delicious fajitas the Surf Tacos team prepared for us.

At 12:30pm, we boarded the buses back to West Philadelphia High, exhausted and happy. It had been an eventful morning. Students got the rare opportunity to experience a beautiful college campus, network with Rutgers students and staff, and learn about all that Rutgers has to offer. Many plan to apply to Rutgers come application season.


– Ivy Tse, College and Career Coach 


A Conversation with Roland Lucas

rolandConducted Jan 16, 1pm

Meet Roland Lucas, our very own College and Career Coach at West Philadelphia High School. Roland is from New Jersey and is the first in his family to graduate from college: Rutgers University, where he studied economics and political science and also participated in Dance Marathon, Greek Life, and was a tour guide. Roland plans to attend law school after his service year with Promise Corps. In his free time, Roland enjoys running, hiking, and reading. Let’s see what Roland has to say about his experience with Promise Corps so far.

Q: What motivated you to serve with Promise Corps?

A: I was always interested in doing a service year at some time in my life, and this was a decision on my part after I decided I wanted to wait to go to law school. I wanted to move to the Philadelphia because I had family here who are very involved in Philadelphia and I had always been an Eagles fan. I wanted to get to know the city more and give back.

Q: What are some highlights of your service year so far?

A: Definitely interacting with the students. I think the biggest highlight for me would be teaching them how to tie a tie. Especially just being able to share that experience with them for the first time because some of the students have never had that experience before. That was something very special for me.

Q: What do you look forward to most as part of Promise Corps?

A: I’m looking forward to doing as much as I can in the year that I’m here. I would just like the students to be in a better place when they’re done with the year with me then when I started. Whether that’s they’re more energized, more motivated, feel more supported – I think that’s the biggest impact a lot of us can do. Especially since I see that a lot of them come from neighborhoods where they don’t have that kind of motivation. Sometimes they’re going to classes where they’re really tired, or overwrought with different emotions, but also having to go through school and think about what to do after school ends. So if I can have an impact and help them in any way that creates that kind of supportive environment then I’d like to do that. 

Q: What are some ways you find helpful in reaching students?

A: Usually it’s just to get on their level. A lot of the times I feel they feel like they’re being talked to and not being talked with. So in terms of my conversations with them I’d ask them how their day’s going, I’ll ask them what they’re up to, what kind of music they like to listen to. Sometimes I’d play music with them during our sessions, I find that kind of relaxes them a little bit and builds a connection. But you know I also take the time to make sure they’re accomplishing what I know they’re capable of because that’s also important.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect(s) of your service?

A: A lot of the kids they’re not very motivated or sometimes difficult to reach, and you’re trying to put your full energy to try to get students to reach their benchmarks or reach their potential. And a lot of days it feels like that’s impossible, but over time and through a lot of effort they come around and that makes a difference.

Q: In what ways is Promise Corps consistent with your expectations?

A: The requirements that we’d have to meet and PC roles in terms of our service – the quantitative stuff that we have to do. 

Q: In what ways is Promise Corps different from your expectations?

A: What I didn’t expect was the qualitative stuff that comes with it – so like the experiences and relationships that you make during this time. 

Q: What are your goals and plans for the rest of the year and afterwards?

A: My goals for the rest of the year are to make sure that all the students come away from this service year in Promise Corps feeling like they can do whatever it is that’s living up to their potential. So they’re not dismissing their value or worth and take a step forward in the right direction. I also want to make sure that the next team that comes in is well-prepared and well-equipped, and that the students and staff here are well-prepared for whatever comes next year, because I would like the experience to be similar and always improving. Because we’re not here next year, it’s important for there to be continuity and a transition that is appropriate.

Ivy Tse- College and Career Coach at West Philadelphia High School

First Half of the Year Summary at Sayre

Life at Sayre High School is a mixed bag of great success and major test and trials. Nonetheless, the Promise Corps team at Sayre has accomplished some awesome things that we would like to share!

Outside of our one on one meetings, we have the ability to shadow the classes of our students at Sayre. The students’ schedules are split into A and B days, in which they switch classes between these days. This also means that we as College and Career Coaches have the opportunity to shadow a total of four different classes a week! This allows us to observe a variety of classes and engage more students. We as coaches do a multiplicity of things while we shadow classes depending on the teacher and how much involvement they need from us. In my English classes that I shadow, I typically assist with helping the students speak up in class, ask them questions about the content they are learning, and support them in any projects they are working on. However, my role and dynamic are different in the science classes that I shadow, where I do more assistance in helping students understand and work through the scientific content they learn.

Some of the other tasks we regularly work on is FAFSA completion and SAT Prep. Our PC team member Kyisha is our FAFSA Specialist here at Sayre. She is a beast at hunting down students and making sure that their FSA ID and FAFSA applications are completed. Unfortunately, many of our students have a difficult time getting their FAFSA completed for one reason or another, however, Kyisha diligently checks in on these students to make sure that progress is being made. During our first half of the year with Sayre, we’ve also assisted with FAFSA Pop-ups where many of our students came down to the PC Room at one time in order to get their FAFSA applications completed.

PC team member Nahdira is our SAT Specialist here at Sayre. She does an awesome job at finding and creating resources for our students to use in order to do their best during the upcoming SAT and ACT tests. When it comes to Standardized Tests, many of us know that preparation is key, however, the type of preparation needed for students to excel in these tests aren’t as easily available to most of our students. We try to combat this by having SAT Prep sessions with our students who are preparing to take the test. We’ve done this in the form of  SAT game sessions in the cafeteria and more comprehensive after-school SAT sessions that focus on testing topics that students need the most help in.

As for trips, we’ve had the pleasure of planning and taking our students on two college visits to Lincoln University and Shippensburg University. Our students were able to tour the campus, learn about the academic and extracurricular offerings of the universities, and talk with some of the students and faculty of each university.

Overall, despite some setbacks that our Sayre PC Team has experienced, the team has done a great job at working past them in order to accomplish some great things!


Ciera M. Osborne, College and Career Coach, Sayre High School

College & Career Fair at West Philadelphia High

unnamed (4)On Dec. 12, West Philadelphia High School hosted our College & Career Fair. Representatives from national and local colleges, city departments, and businesses filled the gymnasium for a lively morning. Students of all grades had some time to network and learn more about options after graduation.

Promise Corps members had participated in planning and promoting the fair; it was exciting to see things turn out so smoothly. On the day, we helped set-up, greet visitors, brief and debrief with students. We networked alongside our students, gathering information and contacts to help with our coaching and the events we host.

Representatives from diverse organizations gathered at the fair. Higher education institutions included West Chester University, Cabrini University, Penn State, the Community College of Philadelphia, and the University of the Arts. We also had specialized training groups: the Philadelphia Technician Training Institute and Jean Madeline Aveda Institute. Also popular were the Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments and National Guards, all of which offer special programs for high schoolers. Finally we had local businesses: Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice and SEPTA.

unnamed (1)Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice was an instant hit. Crowds gathered around the table where Siddiq Moore, a well-known business-owner, captivated students with his message about navigating adolescence, staying on track to success, and owning our futures. 

“I talked to them about how they’re at a critical point right now,” said Siddiq. “At this time they still able to get help from different people that know them: the guidance counselor, the administration…so my thing was encouraging them to make sure that they take advantage of all of that.”

“I talked to them about how to avoid the trap,” he added. “You know, criminal records and stuff like that.”

Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice is located at 264 S. 60th Street. Treat yourself to some fresh, delicious water ice – we promise it’ll be worth. 

unnamed (3)Student responses were generally positive. For many, it was their first time attending a fair of this sort. Some said it sparked a new direction, changed their perspective, or informed them of next steps.

“I learned some stuff,” said Michaé Ponton, tenth grade. “I signed up for something with the fire department. Then I talked to the – I don’t know her name – but she works at Penn, and she says she’s gonna try to get me in a program so I could like – I want to be an OBGYN when I get older. She said she’s gonna try to get me in a program.”

Deshawn Goodwin, tenth grade, also found the fair helpful. “It was fun. I got to see how many things I gotta do later…I mean like it is a good way to get kids to notice that they have to do stuff instead of like showing it later…they’re actually letting us get involved before it’s too late and we have to worry about it extra a lot.”unnamed


– Ivy Tse, College and Career Coach