The 2018 Wawa Hero Award Recipient Is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

“Thank you for being the heroes you are to your communities every day,” Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens said to all the finalists.

The Wawa Foundation continued its commitment to local organizations with the awarding of one of its biggest community grants: The third annual Wawa Foundation Hero Award.

The Wawa Foundation Hero Award Gold Medal was awarded to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia at Wednesday's Wawa Welcome America Celebration of Freedom on Independence Mall. With the award comes a $50,000 grant from the Wawa Foundation.

Runners-up EducationWorks, Inn Dwelling & the Philadelphia Fire Department Explorer Youth Program each received $10,000 grants

“Thank you for being the heroes you are to your communities every day,” Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens said to all the finalists.

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. 

The public voted for the hero award recipient. Here is more on each group. (Listed in alphabetical order):

Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia - Wawa Foundation Hero Award from BGC Phila on Vimeo.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

The group consisting of full-time staff, volunteers, and donors has worked hard to help young people in Philadelphia learn and grow outside of the classroom. Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia is a nonprofit organization that aims to enable young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. With over 8,900 children involved, the BGCP is one of the largest youth-development organization in Philadelphia. Students are exposed to opportunities and experiences that would not be possible without the help of the foundation. BGCP includes numerous programs such as STEM Learning Labs, Literacy Initiative, and Educational & Career Development. While many public schools have cut their physical education programs, several BGCP clubs host sport leagues and fitness opportunities to kids across the city. The staff and volunteers teach kids leadership values and the importance of giving back during their time in the program so that they can help tomorrow’s youth and continue the work of the Boys & Girls Club in the future. Find out more here.


This Philadelphia based organization provides a wide variety of educational opportunities to over 12,000 children and young adults annually. EducationWorks is a nonprofit that provides high quality academic support, career readiness and enrichment programming for the young people involved in the program. They provide educational support in existing schools, through after school programs, and in the summer with unique summer camps. The organization works with topics such as literacy, science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and social emotional learning. EducationWorks focuses on communicating with community and school leaders to identify problems and create specialized programs based on these needs. These customized programs are aimed at reengaging young adults who may have been disconnected due to poor education early in life. Their goal is to create confident and empowered students who are not afraid to dream big and reach their full potential. Find out more here.

Inn Dwelling

Since being founded in 1981, Inn Dwelling has provided young adults with educational support while also stressing community service and leadership development. Their overall goal is to break the cycle of poverty by proving the next generation with the right tools to inspire, thrive, and lead. Their approach combines aspects of public speaking, test preparation, community service, leadership development, and many other programs. Their tutoring and enrichment is available after school, on weekends and during the summer months. Inn Dwelling serves at-risk, low-income, and gifted young adults age 11-18. Their organization has 100 percent success rates in both high school graduation and college matriculation. During the 2017-2018 school year, they served 84 students from numerous different local high schools. Students involved in the program have access to several academic trips including national landmarks, and summer programs at a number of universities. Inn Dwelling has graduated about 150 students already, and hopes to continue its positive impact in the future. Find out more here.

Philadelphia Fire Department Explorer Youth Program

Philadelphia Fire Explorers is a program designed to introduce young adults age 14-20 into fire service through hands on training and experience. The young men and women are introduced to public safety initiatives, emergency preparedness, and all-hazard safety. In addition, the fire department stresses giving back through community outreach initiatives and events. Emergency medical services, disaster relief, and military-related training are also included in the youth program. Their mission is to teach young adults the knowledge and values needed to succeed in a fire service career. This is done through classroom instruction, mentoring from current firefighters, and training exercises. The program takes place at the Fire Training Academy along the Delaware River. Since being implemented in April 2014, Philadelphia Fire Explorers has prepared many young men and women for a future in fire science. Find out more here.

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