Anjela just began her fifth year at the School District of Philadelphia as the Assistant Director in the Office of Strategic Partnerships. This role is full circle for Anjela because before working with the district, she worked with a few nonprofits in the area including Greater Philadelphia Cares, Junior Achievement, Greater Philadelphia Reads, The Enterprise Center, and Marriott Foundation. Anjela is passionate about her career because it allows her to offer the assistance she once desired as a nonprofit employee in the past: a pathway to partnerships between corporations, non-profits, and the school district. Anjela is a key part of ADE's growth as she tirelessly advocates for our program across the district.
Q: The School District of Philadelphia is currently partnered with ADE. Can you explain what that looks like and how the partnership began?
A: "Michael Spain reached out late last year and began a dialogue about intentionally partnering with underserved communities with a majority of students of color or economically disadvantaged students. We spoke about partnering your team with a variety of schools but also just culturally relevant training and resources that would help your volunteers to connect with our students in meaningful ways. I appreciate your DEI statements and efforts to better connect with our students. The journey began about a year and a half ago, and we've been going strong ever since."
Q: You are currently the Assistant Director at the District’s Office of Strategic Partnership. How do you assist programs as they connect with the schools?
A: Our team works solely with partners who provide programs at no cost to the schools or the district. One of the ways that we assist programs is that we survey our principals every year on a variety of programming needs such as mentoring, arts, college applications, etc... When we have partners reach out to connect with schools, we connect them based on their needs and how they align with the programs they provide. In ADE’s case, career exposure is a need that we ask schools about. When we have schools who say, “Yes, we want folks to expose our students to a variety of careers” or “Yes, we want professionals coming in to talk to our students” we know that is what your team provides."
Q: The district partners with a number of different programs. In your opinion, what sets ADE apart from other programs? How is it unique from what you usually see?
A: "I love the intentionality many of our partners have when serving black and brown students and connecting with school communities, but I think ADE is unique in a few ways. Firstly, creating those hands-on experiences related to design and engineering is something we do not see often. The models that the students are building are impressive. Also, exposing students at such a young age really sets your program apart because we typically see experiences like this happening at the high school level. It is never too early to spark students’ interest and curiosity, so I love that ADE is in our elementary and middle school classrooms and works hands-on with our students at such a young age."
Q: How do you believe ADE fits into the school district's mission?
A: "This question is timely because Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington joined us about a year ago. With his leadership, the district released Accelerate Philly- a five-year strategic plan. One of the priorities is partnering with families in the community. Through these listening and learning sessions, we learned that school communities value partnerships because they strengthen school capacity and help the needs of students. Equity is at the center of every aspect of our work. We're committed to identifying key areas where partners can support our school communities. ADE fits into the district's mission because you're prioritizing introducing black and brown students to careers they might not otherwise considered thus creating career pathways for our students at such an early age. It aligns so well with our mission, and we love it! "
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