Temple University honor students will be tutoring several children throughout the school year as part of the “Positive Image Homework Club.”
More than 20 Temple students showed up at the Cozen Police Athletic League at 17th and Brown Streets in North Philadelphia for an introduction to the after-school program. The program began last year in an effort to provide second to fifth graders with role models in the form of college students from across Philadelphia.
The “Homework Club” designates a portion of each afternoon to schoolwork for the kids who come to the Police Athletic League while school is in session. During this time, college students will help them in any subject – be it math, language arts, or science.
To encourage the Temple honor students, Bill Bergman, vice president of administration, arranged for a shuttle bus to bring volunteers to and from main campus for the tutoring.
Last year, five college students accepted the challenge, volunteering to tutor in the afternoon at least once a week.
However, only two students, both from Temple, stuck through the program for the entire year. So far this year, the volunteer turnout has been higher.
“I didn’t expect this many people, but I’m sure glad that they came,” Fred Snead, Vice President of the New Morrocco’s Organization, said. “I just hope that the effort continues to get even bigger, because there’s thousands of students in this neighborhood.”
Snead, who is also employed at Temple, helped establish the relationship between the university and the neighborhood just south of main campus.
The New Morrocco’s is a volunteer organization active in the community. The group consists of former gang members who are working to restore and revitalize parts of North Philadelphia.
“We live in an urban area and it’s blighted around here. Without a direction the blight leads to standing on the corner, to drug selling, and to gambling on the corner,” Snead said.
Those who expressed interest in volunteering received a tour of the updated facilities at the Cozen building.
Since last year, many people have donated several books for a library, a pool table and foosball tables for a game room. Dumbbells and other equipment have also been donated for a weight room.
The Temple students also got to survey the surrounding neighborhood while walking to the George Robinson Memorial Park which is used by the Police Athletic League. Snead said its namesake, George Robinson, helped found the Young Black Alliance, a group which united three gangs to build up and bring together separate neighborhoods, along with Sammy Davis, Jr. and the New Morroccos.
Robinson was also instrumental to the connection between Temple and the community, according to Snead.
The Police Athletic League mainly provides extra-curricular programs like basketball and double-dutch contests to keep students in an active and safe environment.
Snead said this type of effort is beneficial to both sides.
“If Temple looks at it like I look at it, it’s a business,” Snead said. “If you started from second and fifth grade and they know that Temple helped them, they’ll know that Temple is the way to go.”