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Vote Now: These Are the 4 Nonprofits for Wawa Hero Award, $50K Grant

The winner of the Wawa Foundation Hero Award and recipient of a $50,000 grant will be announced during Wawa Welcome America festivities on July 4th

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Wawa is honoring nonprofit organizations serving the Philadelphia community with its 2022 Wawa Foundation Hero Award.

Coded by Kids, Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, Mighty Writers and Philadelphia Youth Basketball are the 2022 finalists.

"The Wawa Foundation Hero Award honors a non-profit organization, and its volunteers, serving Philadelphia by providing services that build stronger communities through preserving our independence, protecting our safety and mentoring and inspiring our youth," the Wawa Foundation said on its website.

The award comes with a $50,000 grant for the winning organization and $10,000 to each of the other three finalists -- public voting runs from June 13 to June 29, 2022.

The winner will be announced during the Wawa Welcome America Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood on July 4th.

Here are the stories (according to Wawa) of each "Hero" nonprofit:

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Coded by Kids

Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle speaks to Coded by Kids' COO Denae Mobley about the work the Philadelphia nonprofit does in the community. Coded by Kids is one of the four finalists for the Wawa Foundation Hero Award and a $50,000 grant during Wawa Welcome America July 4th festivities.

"Coded by Kids’ mission is to prepare underrepresented young people to succeed as tech and innovation leaders through high-quality tech education, project-based learning, mentorship, and real-world business opportunities. The organization began as a passion project for military veteran and Germantown, Philadelphia native Sylvester Mobley who has grown the organization’s impact from serving a few children in a Philadelphia recreation center to an organization that now serves hundreds of children per year in numerous locations. Today, Coded by Kids educates, inspires, and mentors the next generation of tech and innovation leaders in Philadelphia with programs that teach web development, digital design, tech startup and entrepreneurship concepts, hosting citywide coding competitions, internships, and mentoring opportunities to help kids gain technical skills. Coded by Kids is encouraging kids to become heroes in their own futures with programs that will prepare them to track into scalable, high-growth and high-skilled careers."

Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School

Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle is joined by Dr. Flannery O'Connor, the principal of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, to talk about "a school that works." Cristo Rey is one of four finalists for the 2022 Wawa Foundation Hero Award and a $50,000 grant that comes with the honor.

"Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, a Catholic, college preparatory school for students of all faiths, nurtures, and challenges 550 underserved students to recognize and realize their full potential. To ensure all students are college-ready upon graduation, the Cristo Rey curriculum combines a rigorous, data-driven academic program with paid, professional internships. All students work four days a week in professional jobs with companies across the Philadelphia area, earning 50% of the cost of their education through their own work. In partnership with our students and their families, Cristo Rey Philadelphia’s faculty, staff, job partners, and supporters are everyday heroes working to positively impact the futures of hundreds of young men and women in Philadelphia."

Mighty Writers

Mighty Writers' goal is to allow children to read clearly and speak effectively, boosting overall graduation rates and college acceptances. Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle peaks to Brianna Johns about all Mighty Writers has to offer.

"Mighty Writers’ mission is to teach kids, ages 3-17, to think clearly and write with clarity so they can achieve success at school, at work, and in life. Through afterschool and summer writing programs, Mighty Writers develops unique and enriching communities, champions the stories of diverse youth writers, and drives each student to reach their maximum potential. Mighty Writers is the only non-profit that provides free, high-quality, bilingual, culturally, and community-oriented writing programs to children, ages 3-17. Less than 70% graduate high school in the areas served, and the literacy proficiency rate hovers around 35% for their grade band. To accomplish their goals, Mighty Writers’ programs take a holistic approach. They know that kids can’t think clearly when they are hungry. That’s why Mighty Writers continues to support their communities with food and other essential resources. Through the organization’s core values of resilience, respect, and optimism, young people develop their superpower – the power of the pen!"

Philadelphia Youth Basketball (PYB)

The Philadelphia Youth Basketball organization is a finalist for the Wawa Foundation $50,000 Hero Award. Philly Lives' Aunyea Lachelle spoke with Ameen Akbar, chief mission officer of Philadelphia Youth Basketball, about the work the nonprofit does in communities across the city.

"Philadelphia Youth Basketball (PYB) is a community-built youth empowerment organization that leverages the iconic game of basketball to help today’s urban youth overcome the most urgent and systemic issues facing underserved communities. PYB holds workshops, amassed over 6,500 programming hours, and served over 275,000 meals. They have partnered with over 70 schools, recreation centers, churches, synagogues, and mosques in the City of Philadelphia. PYB has over 250 volunteers annually, and 50 tutors. PYB prioritizes investing in the development of adult staff, especially our coach-mentors, the majority of whom come from similar circumstances and communities as the young people in our programs.  They are currently working to open a $30 million dollar complex, The Alan Horwitz,˜Sixth Man’ Center, that will serve as a safe haven and empowerment vehicle for thousands of boys and girls per year. PYB helps thousands of young people find their voice, value, and visibility during their critical formative years — to bring about meaningful community change and lasting economic mobility."

Click here to vote.

Past winners include the Veterans Group (2021), Broad Street Ministry (2020), Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports (2019), Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia (2018), Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey (2017) and SPIN (2016).

Congratulations to the Veterans Group! The organization, a homeless facility serving veterans in the Philadelphia area, with an emphasis on those whose service resulted in mental or physical health issues, is the winner of this year's Wawa Foundation Hero award and will receive a $50,000 grant.
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