Temple alumna hopes to guide North Philadelphia youth toward leadership

In a call for change, NaDerah Griffin is trying to bring awareness to the violence and issues that have been occurring throughout the city.

NaDerah Griffin is eager to make a difference in her community by focusing on supplying proper education, mentorship and job training. | JACK LARSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

NeDerah Griffin, a Temple alumna and passionate advocate for the non-profit organization Philly Truce, launched a bold bid by stepping into the political orbit with a strong mission at hand. 

“It’s been far too long for ‘We The People’ here in Philadelphia to endure these traumatic experiences. ‘We The People’ are at a loss of hope,” Griffin said. 

Griffin decided to run for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives 181st Legislative District and Philadelphia’s Community Ambassador after witnessing firsthand the challenges faced by Philadelphians. While she ultimately came up short against fellow Temple alum and incumbent State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta in the Democratic primary, Griffin is still committed to bettering the North Central community.

Griffin is eager to make a difference in her community by focusing on supplying proper education, mentorship and job training to prepare the next generation for leadership roles and a successful future.

As a member of Philly Truce, a nonprofit organization based in North Philly, Griffin works to prepare African American males for adulthood within the community by controlling the crime rate for Black households, which has caused the rate of Black men in prison to expand across the course of the last years. 

The organization believes North Philadelphia youth can be important leaders in their families and neighborhoods. But if they’re not prepared properly, they cannot do their best, keeping children from thriving in the real world. 

“Philly Truce wants to see that these children are doing something constructive during the daytime and out of mischief; without giving them some guidance, we could lose our children,” Griffin said. 

Griffin urges school systems and organizations to step up and confront the toll that violence has taken in the city. On the campaign trail, Griffin preached that children in the Philadelphia area are facing academic and behavioral struggles starting at a young age because of what they encounter or see throughout their lives. 

NaDerah Griffin ran for Pennsylvania’s 181st district House seat | JACK LARSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Hearing tragic stories within her community from colleagues at Philly Truce and even everyday people prompted Griffin into her campaign. The stories heard have left a mark on the truths behind what is happening in the city, without even knowing, she said. 

“It’s 11 at night; we hear gunshots, and following that, we hear no sirens or helicopters,” said Ronda Davis, a Philly Truce council associate.  “So, I thought, ‘Oh, they got away.’ The next day we found out it was a classmate of my daughters; he laid there and bled out.” 

In a 2018 study by ProQuest Dissertation and Theses, researchers discovered that adolescents who experience violence and unfavorable neighborhood circumstances are victims of distinct traumas that cause long-term problems and impair developmental milestones. 

With the limited amount of resources that urban schools receive, Philadelphia students lack the support they need to achieve academic and social success, thus pivoting them into potentially threatening situations, Griffin said. 

“As a former teacher at the Philadelphia School District, I want to advocate legislation that  mandates that we educate our children and give our children the same quality education that they do in the suburbs and the surrounding county,” Griffin said. 

Griffin believes that cultivating the minds of the youth at a young age will help them develop a broader mindset. Being placed in a healthy environment early on, whether that be through schooling or other resources, will encourage the youth at a young age, before they are influenced by other motives, she said. 

Griffin campaign advocates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education from K-12 and career technical education from 7th-12th grade in hopes of equipping students with the exact job training and skills they would need once they graduate high school. 

At Philly Truce, NaDerah works alongside other advocates, attending school assemblies and participates in volunteer acts that help disadvantaged neighborhoods to address the issues they face while encouraging them to develop the drive they need to have a successful future.  

“NaDerah has joined our organization with a determined mind,” said Mazzie Casher, founder of Philly Truce. “She works very hard to make a change in our community, even if it is not alongside us.”

Griffin imposes a vibrant and committed approach to raising awareness for the issues the city faces. Her displays of colorful pink flyers are posted on many street signs and poles to attract attention across all surrounding areas in the Philadelphia district. 

“It’s not just about her eye-catching posters, her dedication to our community is inspiring,”  said Kathryn Wescoe, a 2024 marketing alumna. “She does not only talk about making a change; she is actively working towards one. It’s not everyday you come across someone with that type of commitment.”

Griffin aims to create pathways to success through her work. Her current focus is providing free behavior and therapeutic mental health sessions at a facility located on Broad Street to individuals who are waiting 6-12 months to be seen at a psychiatrist facility, in hopes of creating a future where every individual in the city has the proper resources to overcome their hardships. 

Griffin isn’t alone. Past educators, students and Philadelphia workers who have grown up within the area are also fueling the drive for change. But Griffin’s dedication and efforts are inspiring a new wave of community engagement, motivating people like Wescoe to consider their own roles in creating positive change. With a large team, and some self-motivation, Griffin hopes her gripping stories and a strong plan for the future lead to quick, efficient change.

“It is imperative that we Philadelphians bring about change,” Griffin said.

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