The third annual Wawa Foundation Hero Award was handed out during the Wawa Welcome America Celebration of Freedom on the Fourth of July.
The Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports received the $50,000 grant courtesy of The Wawa Foundation. Runners up ASAP/After School Activities Partnerships, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence and Esperanza each received a $10,000 grant each.
Here is more on each of the finalists:
Founded in 2002, ASAP is Philadelphia’s leading after-school partner and advocate. Through four citywide initiatives- ASAP Chess, ASAP Debate, ASAP Drama, and ASAP Scrabble- ASAP engages 5,000 kids annually in after-school programs that complement classroom learning and foster a sense of belonging among diverse groups of youth. ASAP’s work is made possible by caring adults – including teachers, community leaders, and volunteers who lend their time and talent after school to enrich the lives of young people and strengthen communities.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence (BBBSI) engages thousands of volunteers who give their precious time to mentor youth throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. Founded in 1915, BBBSI has positively impacted the lives of over 125,000 youth over the past century. The organization is best known for its evidence-based mentoring programs in which more than 3,100 youth per year are professionally supported and empowered to achieve their full potential. These programs are designed to create positive youth outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and improved relationships. BBBSI additionally works with other mentoring organizations in the area, providing best practices training and technical assistance to ensure all youth have access to high quality mentors and high quality mentoring programs.
For more than 30 years, Esperanza has been empowering those on a pathway out of poverty in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia by offering programs that cultivate self-belief, grit, and knowledge acquisition, allowing clients to develop agency, voice, and influence over their own lives. Esperanza’s programs help individuals at all stages of their lives to accumulate assets (economic, physical, and psychological) that together generate an effective toolkit of skills for successful advancement. The organization offers a diverse range of programs designed to prepare the next generation of community leaders, including secondary education, youth civic engagement, community STEM education, and arts education.
The Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports operates 13 sport-and-wellness programs year-round, with a focus on building inclusive communities for individuals with disabilities in a barrier-free and supportive setting. PCAS serves over 500 individuals with disabilities annually reaching, together with their families, over 2,000 people out of its Philadelphia facility. Participants include children, adults, seniors, and veterans and active duty military personnel with disabilities. Each year, athletes and volunteers dedicate countless hours to helping enable people with disabilities improve their health and wellness as well as activity levels.
Applicants for this grant were tasked with creating video or story about their impact on the Philadelphia community. These four organizations were selected for having the most compelling stories out of the nonprofit organizations who submitted the application.