When the Bard of Avon is in the building, it’s bound to have something to do with the arts.
And so it was, as a Shakespearean actor from the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre joined the Mendelssohn Club singers in helping PNC’s Arts Alive initiative announce the recipients of $1 million in grants.
New awardees are the Asian Arts Initiative; First Person Arts; Mendelssohn Club, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and Theater Horizon; they — along with returning grantees African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Cape May Stage, Fleisher Art Memorial, the Kimmel Center, Koresh Dance Company, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Perkins Center for the Arts, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, Philadelphia Mural Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Scribe Video Center and Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center — all can either continue programming or introduce new ones, thanks to the grants, which range from $25,000 to $80,000.
“Art should be accessible to everyone. We know that a vibrant arts scene improves our region by creating jobs, boosting tourism and generating millions in revenue,” said Bill Mills, PNC regional president for Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “But accessibility to the arts can also make a profound difference in the lives of individuals, especially underserved youth and their families.
“The arts develop creativity, innovation and collaboration,” Mills continued. “Skills for the workforce of tomorrow.”
This is the fourth year that the bank has funded regional arts through its “Arts Alive” program, which has awarded more than 100 grants — totaling more than $4 million — since this initiative started in 2009.
Arts Alive is a 5-year, $5 million initiative with a stated goal to “help area residents gain access o he arts and to help arts organizations expand and engage audiences.”
“The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture,” read a statement from PNC Arts Alive. “Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause which began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.”
All of the grantees plan on using the funds immediately; the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre will offer free tickets and transportation for its presentation of Othello; Theatre Horizon will offer free tickets to low-income and underserved residents; and First Person Arts will offer free admission to its Story Day Celebration.
AAMP plans on using the funds for its “Come See About Me” celebration and profile of hit-making music group the Supremes. This multi-pronged exhibit and presentation will also features more than 70 gowns from Mary Wilson’s personal collection, along with album covers, rare photographs, video footage and related programming.
”We are very excited. This is big news for us,” said Romona Riscoe Benson, president and CEO of the African American Museum. “Very rarely is there an exhibit of this magnitude, and this grant will help us improve and expand considerably.”
The city’s nationally acclaimed foreclosure prevention program is adding a new layer of assistance for troubled homeowners, who can now get a “budget buddy” to help them avoid falling into further financial pitfalls.
“We are just launching this part of the program,” said Common Pleas Court Judge Annette Rizzo.
It is intended to help distressed homeowners develop a budget and stick to it as they emerge from foreclosure. According to Rizzo, city officials are recruiting volunteers who will work one-on-one with homeowners to develop a spending plan and then work with them long-term to make sure they adhere to their plans.
“We’re calling on a new base of volunteers, those in the financial world, those in the accounting world to help,” she said.
So far, Rizzo said, two volunteers have been recruited to launch the program.
Rizzo made the announcement Wednesday at city hall during a ceremony to recognize PNC bank for its sponsorship of a related program, the Tools for Financial Growth program, which provides financial counseling workshops for homeowners in the foreclosure prevention program. PNC kicked in $150,000 to help fund the program during its first year.
The newly launched program is an extension of the Tools for Financial Growth program, which homeowner Patrick Coleman said helped him and his wife stay on track as they worked to modify the terms of their mortgage.
“It helped me in a lot of ways,” Coleman said, one of 195 people who participated since it started earlier this year. “It reminded us to slow down on going out to certain affairs, going out to dinner at these fancy restaurants … we had to learn to pay our bills.”
In addition to instilling a sense of discipline, the program taught him some basic financial principles.
“On our credit cards, we pay that monthly fee,” he said. “Then if we have a little extra in the middle of the month we send some more money to try and build our credit up.”
He credit score remains low, Coleman said, noting that he’s working on improving the score.
“This program really helped me out a whole lot,” he said.
Philadelphia has garnered quite a bit of attention for its foreclosure prevention program, pioneered by Rizzo. It forces mortgage holders and homeowners to sit down and renegotiate the terms of the mortgage.
Noting that since the start of the recession in 2008 the stream of foreclosures has not slowed, Rizzo said she is now also trying to make sure people who saved their homes once can stay in them.
“It’s not just about determining the ability of a homeowner to enter into a really good deal with the lender/servicer but rather sustaining that deal,” Rizzo said. “To me success is no coming back.”
Since its inception in 2008, the foreclosure prevention program has kept 5,000 homeowners in their homes.
“The City of Philadelphia has long recognized that keeping people in their homes has to be one of our major goals,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “When a property goes vacant it has an impact on the rest of the community.”
Two local nonprofits have received grants from the PNC Foundation to create financial education programs for preschoolers.
The Please Touch Museum and the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children received $325,000 from the foundation to teach children about saving and spending.
The grant funding was announced during a luncheon held Tuesday at PNC’s Market Street offices that drew executives from the nonprofit community, early childhood education leaders and PNC employee volunteers.
“This is a part of a $12 million initiative that is part of Grow Up Great that focuses on improving financial literacy for children as well as parents and teachers. The program is called “For Me, For You, For Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing and Saving.” It will lead young children towards a solid understanding of these basic concepts,” said PNC Regional President Bill Mills.
Created by Sesame Workshop, “For Me, For You, For Later,” features a multimedia kit to enhance financial education for children between the ages of three and five. The kits include a guide for parents and caregivers, a children’s activity book and an original Sesame Street DVD.
During the luncheon, PNC Financial Services Group Chairman and CEO James E. Rohr gave an overview of Grow Up Great, PNC’s signature early childhood education program.
The program was just extended by $250 million over 10 years to enhance early childhood education and school readiness.
The initiative will focus on enhancing financial education for families in 15 states and the District of Columbia. The PNC Foundation will award $1.04 million in Grow Up Grants across Pennsylvania. The grants will be distributed to 12 nonprofit community partners, including libraries, YMCAs, school districts and other organizations that focus on high-quality care and education for young children. In Pennsylvania, approximately 40,000 children will be served through Grow Up Great, in addition to nearly 15,000 parents/caregivers and more than 1,400 preschool educators.
Through its partnership with PNC, the Please Touch Museum received $200,000 to incorporate the concept and curriculum of For Me, For You, For Later in all aspects of the museum’s work. The financial education curriculum will also be integrated into their comprehensive school readiness outreach programs such as the Portable Play series and Museum Without Walls programs. The museum will reach approximately 20,000 children.
“PNC has been a partner of the museum for many years. They are excellent partners in early childhood,” says Please Touch Museum president and CEO Laura Foster.
Foster noted that the organization has been engaging in discussions with PNC officials about developing financial literacy program for children because it realized that it was a natural subject for kids.
“The good thing about this is it reaches both children and parents,” Foster says of For Me, For You, For Later.
PNC’s other Philadelphia area partner, DVAEYC will serve 2,000 preschool children and 90 early childhood education teachers. DVAEYC will take a three-tiered approach to delivering PNC’s For Me, For You, For Later curriculum by training 90 early childhood education professionals from 30 programs serving 2,000 children and at least 500 families in the region.
The PNC Foundation receives its principal funding from the PNC Financial Services Group.
Recently honored at President Obama’s inauguration, 88-year-old Dr. Eugene Richardson is one of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought a war on two fronts: victory in the air during WWII and victory over racism at home.
Richardson revealed little-known stories about the men and women of Tuskegee, Ala. keeping history alive through PNC’s 8th Annual Black History Month Celebration. The airman was joined by two Tuskegee Airwomen from Philadelphia — Alma Daily, who was a nurse at Tuskegee, and second-generation Tuskegee Joan Broadfield, who is helping to keep this important Civil Rights story alive.
“The Tuskegee Airmen are the national heroes in the Civil Rights movement and international heroes of World War II ," said J. William Mills III, PNC's regional president for Philadelphia and South Jersey. “What's so extraordinary, is how these early Civil Rights soldiers put their lives on the line and offended a nation that didn't consider them as equals. They fought racism and bigotry at home just does valiantly as they fought Hitler's war machine.…Dr. Richardson went to Tuskegee and completed his training in April 1945, just a month before World War II ended. Like all African American pilots, he had no postwar outlet to become a commercial pilot — his dream. But his experience at Tuskegee opened other doors. Many of the Tuskegee pilots had been college boys. Inspired by them, Dr. Richardson went on the G. I. Bill, earned his masters and PhD and became a teacher and principal in the Philadelphia school system.”
On Wednesday, the spry airman regaled nearly 300 PNC employees in the morning with first-hand, historical stories, followed by an elegant business luncheon with nearly 100 community leaders. Richardson is one of the few remaining local members of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, and continues to advise others on overcoming obstacles and the importance of education.
PNC Bank, through its “Grow Up Great” philanthropic wing, will make sure Camden youth grow up smart.
The non-profit initiative will breathe new life into the academic prowess of Camden, N.J., youth when it opens the new library at the Early Learning Research academy during a ribbon-cutting at the center’s Cooper Street location Monday morning.
“We started the ‘Grow Up Great’ program in 2004, and we based our corporate commitment to early childhood education on the belief that all children should be exposed to great early learning,” said Jane Canfield, PNC’s senior vice president of Client and Consumer Relations. “Studies by educators throughout the years show children with access to adequate early learning succeed and learn much better than those that don’t.”
PNC employees volunteered their time and energy by donating new books, building shelves, laying down carpet and preparing reading corners. And this collective volunteering is rewarding in a number of ways, Canfield said.
“Early on, we thought about how to deploy volunteers, since we had a strong commitment to get our employees involved,” Canfield said. Volunteerism is a real important part. We’ve had so many organizations that need help and grants; but we’ve had stakeholders and caregivers tell us that volunteerism is actually more important.”
To coax employees into giving more of their time, Canfield said PNC instituted a program that grants employees 40 hours of vacation time if they volunteer on site.
“The other interesting part is we collect books throughout all our buildings and branches, and we say to the employees who can’t come out [and work at the site directly], that if they can donate a brand new book, we will give you one hour of Grow Up credit,” Canfield said of PNC’s policy of a one-to-one exchange of Grow Up credits for hours off. “The children in the centers are all economically challenged and underserved and deserve new books.”
PNC Financial Services Group started the Grow Up Great program and its Spanish-language initiative, Crezca con Éxito, in 2004. Since then, the $350 million, multi-year program has served almost two million youth. The Camden location will be the sixth library built through the Grow Up Great plan.
But why Camden?
“Dr. Gloria Santiago just opened the center in September 2011, and as she was building the site, she reached out to us to learn about ‘Grow Up Great,’” Canfield explained. “A member of our staff met with her staff and came away so impressed with her drive, enthusiasm and dedication to the children of Camden … we just knew we wanted to do something.
“Dr. Santiago energized the community,” Canfield continued. “We were very impressed with her and the work she’s doing. It seemed like the perfect match for us and our employees.”
The library at the Early Learning Research academy will be the second site in Camden in which PNC has chartered a library. And although PNC isn’t actively recruiting for sites, it will listen to proposals and does plan on building more libraries in the future.
“We don’t have a plan — a goal of building a certain number of libraries in a certain matter of time. This is more about building partnerships and relationships, and filling a particular need,” Canfield said. “And if it’s something they really need and want, and it’s something they have the space for and are interested in it, then we can work together.
“We’ve built six and are looking for opportunities,” Canfield continued. “We are really happy to provide colorful and save learning environments.”