I Can Do It ... But We Can Do It Better!!!

This poem was collectively written by 11th and 12th grade students who participated in our 2017 Summer College Boot Camp, a two-week, intensive college prep program that incorporates everything students need to know to begin preparing for college and beyond. Over the course of two weeks, students worked on a series of projects spearheaded by teaching artists from ArtWell and discussed the importance of embracing our individuality, working to create change in our communities, and maintaining our self-identity while preparing for and attending college. This poem is just a small, but powerful glimpse into the magic they created over their two weeks together.  Enjoy!

I can share my own opinion,
We can respect each other’s viewpoints even if we don’t agree.
I can learn,
We can learn at our own pace.
I can create change,
We can make an impact.
I can give back to my community,
We can give back to the community.
I can have my own views,
We can stand up for what we want.
I can help make a way for the less fortunate,
We can donate.
I can feel comfortable in my own skin,
We can accept people for who they are.
I can help those who in need,
We can give others things that we no longer need.
I can be a safe place for anyone who needs me,
We can be kind and provide comfort to those around us.
I can give the community more than what it gave me,
We can make an impact.
I can do it,
We can do it better!!!

Together Forever, Forever Together

On this day, when we are acutely aware of the differences that separate us, it’s helpful to listen to the message of two of our incredible young advocates in North Philadelphia.  

In December, Iyanna Henderson, 6th grade, and Jasiya Smith, 5th grade, collaborated on this simple, but searing painting,

Together Forever, Forever Together.


Nelson Mandela described it through the South African word, ubuntu--the idea that our humanity is bound up in one another.  

Listen up!  Because these advocates are onto something!  Together Forever, Forever Together...words to reflect on this weekend.

                                       Show Love, 

                                                                 PJ Craig, Executive Director

A Letter from a Young Leader

Dear Friends of the Advocate,

I’m an 11th grade council member of the Advocate Leadership Council and a resident of North Philadelphia.  Two years ago, I moved back to Philadelphia from McLean, Virginia.  Moving at 15 years old was not easy.  I was at a new school, a new place, and had no friends.  It was hard to make new friends on such short notice.  Thankfully, I found the Advocate Center.

At the Advocate Center, I found community and family.  I found home. Some of my closest friends are now from the Advocate Center. Not only did I find friends, I found myself.  At the Advocate, I participated in the writing program with Mighty Writers, dance and acting with Arts4All, poetry and art with ArtWell, and watched as my friends played some pretty competitive basketball. I learned about where I’ve come from and who I am.  In the last two years, I put together a road map of where I’m going.  I am going to be a judge when I grow up.  But, I’m not waiting until adulthood to begin to address the most pressing social realities in my community. Through the Advocate Center, I’m taking on leadership roles to transform my community now.

Last month, along with my fellow Advocate Leadership Council members, we hosted a forum on Temple University and North Philadelphia community relations.  We held a panel discussion between youth leaders from North Philadelphia and Temple student leaders.  

For the first time, some Temple students and professors listened to our experience of the neighborhood, the university, and the impact of gentrification.  Because of comments I made as a panelist at the forum, Temple administrators and Temple Student Government are working with us to develop an “Experience Temple Day” for neighborhood high school students.  

While our most recent forum was just the beginning, our actions are already having an effect---bringing people together for conversation, planning, and action to improve North Philadelphia.  

The Advocate brings people together for change.  The Advocate has equipped me to be a leader and helped me develop the skills I need to be successful in school, in our community, and in life.   

As a junior, I am looking at colleges, preparing my essays, and getting ready to apply for schools.  When I look at my top three schools--Spelman College, Georgia Tech, and Temple University--I feel confident that the Advocate has prepared me to succeed in college, to network and make new friends and new connections, and to work for positive change wherever I go. With free college prep workshops, college boot camp, entrepreneurship classes, essay writing sessions, service learning and leadership opportunities throughout the year, I know I have the tools I need to succeed.  

Your support of the Advocate Center helped change my life, helped me change my community, and will help myself and other youth transform this city.  All of the Advocate’s programming is free. At a time like this, with talented, intelligent young leaders like me, we can’t afford to not have the support of the Advocate Center.

Please consider supporting young leaders like me so that we can continue to build up one another and this city.  


Niyah Palmer

Colorful Leaves, Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

Pictured above: Jasiya

Pictured above: Jasiya

There's something truly magical about Fall. The crisp air. The colorful, deeply pigmented leaves both on the ground and on the tips of trees. The change of the seasons. That’s right! A new season is upon us folks – and oh how we just love new beginnings! 

For the students and staff at The Advocate Center, the fall season is so much more than the recognizable summer growth spurts, new hairdos, layered clothing, back-to-school jitters and everything pumpkin spice! At ACCE, fall represents a time to reconnect with family. A homecoming of sorts. A time to forge ahead. To discover new things. 

In two short months, we have seen so many of our students forge ahead in so many ways. Some emerged as leaders. Some made new friends. Some discovered their passions, and others -- well, let's just say we have a few mini-chefs and some budding artists in our midst!  And of course we can't mention mini-chefs without mentioning nine year old Jasiya Smith.

When Jasiya showed up in August for our Fall Open House she was too young to participate in any of our arts or academic enrichment programs, and as you can imagine, breaking the news to her was extremely difficult. Fortunately, after much thought and consideration, and with the help of our partners, we were able to admit her into our Art of Growing Leaders program with ArtWell and our Hip Hip/African Dance class with Arts4All. Since then, Jasiya has showed up consistently for programming with hercontagious smile and strong sense of enthusiasm. Last week Jasiya participated in our "Grow and Eat A Garden" workshop led by Temple Community Garden. Before the workshop she had never diced a tomato, but by the end she was a pro and bursting with excitement. We can all learn something from Jasiya's story, but perhaps the most important lesson is that we should always strive to approach new experiences and opportunities to grow with boundless excitement and enthusiasm. 

Pictured above: Jasiya and Michael at the Eat and Grow A Garden Workshop

Pictured above: Jasiya and Michael at the Eat and Grow A Garden Workshop

This fall, we are growing in ways we never dreamed imaginable. We’ve developed new partnerships, started new projects, gained fresh perspectives, and perhaps the most exciting -- we now have a new place to call home! All new opportunities to be better than we were the day before. 

So, as the leaves continue to fall, the frost warnings grow closer and the joys of holiday season loom as we await the election of our new President, we challenge you try something new this season and to take advantage of the boundless opportunities that await you. You'll be happy you did!

Yup, there's something truly magical about Fall -- but the real magic is being able to spend it day in and day out with our Advocate family – and that alone is enough to make us smile; and trust me -- we're grinning from ear to ear. 

*Written by Adia Harmon, Advocate Center Program Coordinator

The Experience of an Intern

This first week of camp was filled with new learning experiences for the elementary school kids. However, the kids were not the only ones that learned new things, we were learning new things everyday along with them, intentionally or not. The kids seem to be an infinite pool of excitement, with each day leaking out more and more. Genuine excitement can be found here, unlike when we get older, where we have to put on an act in order to protect one’s feelings. There is no act here. It is as if the kids were leeching and building on top of our energy. We become more drained as the week goes on while the kids get more hype with each passing day. Nonetheless, it is an interesting experience and I would rather be here making an impact on the lives of children than wasting my time and energy in front of a computer screen all day


The Advocate Center will be hosting its FIRST ANNUAL Advocate Spring Invitational BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT next week! Our middle school basketball team will be facing off on Wed. Apr. 27th and our high school basketball team on Thurs. Apr. 28th. 

If you know of a basketball player or players (grades 6-12) who would be interested, they are WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE!

WHO: North Philadelphia Students (grades 6-12)

WHERE: 1801 W. Diamond St. (entrance on Gratz St.)

WHEN: Wed. Apr. 27th and Thurs. 28th, 12:00PM - 3:30PM (Registration begins at 12:00PM)

Sponsored by TEAM H.E.A.V.Y., Inc. (Helping Educate Athletes Very Young) 

Coordinated in part by Path to Greatness

For more information or to send donations, call: 215-978-8000.

Help us make this event a success for our youth!

Black History Month Social Media Challenge!


Wow! Can you believe the end of February is just one week away?!?!

2016 is off to a great start here at the Advocate Center, but February is always special because not only is it a month to celebrate being kind and loving one another, but its also a time to celebrate Black History! 

Earlier this month, we challenged our Advocate Scholars to share photos, quotes and/or artwork that represent or depict influential African American leaders, notable figures and pioneers of change on their own Facebook and Instagram pages daily. We then asked them to caption their posts explaining why they selected those individuals and to highlight their contributions to Black History. 

To receive recognition for their posts, they were also asked to "tag us" whenever they posted something related to Black History. The Scholar with the most posts at the end of this month will receive a special gift for winning the challenge!

On Monday, February, 29th, we'll announce the winner (or winners)!

Stay tuned for the results!