Tuesday, December 31, 2013


African American United Fund: Entering its Fourth Decade of Community Economic Development

DATE: Saturday, February 1, 2014
TIME: 1:00 pm-3:00 pm
SITE: African American United Fund Conference Center 2231 N. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19132

Join us at the AAUF Conference Center as we celebrate the efforts of neighborhood organizations, community leaders and academics who work to improve access to local, healthy and culturally appropriate food. Through an interactive panel discussion, we will reflect on food movements and imagine how they might improve in years to come. The forum will also mark 20 years of service of the AAUF’s president, Aissia Richardson, who established a food-producing urban garden in North Central Philadelphia to improve the health and wellbeing of African Americans. Through critical dialogue, we will consider the capacities and limitations of such projects, while carving out new directions for transformation and growth. Join us for refreshments, raffle prizes and lively conversation!

For more information, please contact Leticia Garcia at: leticiabgarcia@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Breathing Life into a Dead Space

For over 31 years, the mission of African American United Fund (AAUF) has been to actively engage Pennsylvania’s African American community to collectively address social, environmental and economic injustices by pooling resources to enhance the quality of life of those most affected by these problems. I created the AAUF African Marketplace Health and Wellness program in 2007 to highlight health disparities in the African American community after my father suffered a stroke and subsequently was diagnosed with heart disease. After my father had his stroke, he was afraid to leave home. He stopped working, stopped teaching, and stopped exercising. All activities he had previously enjoyed. As a work therapy project, I asked him to help coordinate this new program to educate our family and our community about preventable disease and to connect African American men to traditional health care providers. Sadly, my father lost his battle with heart disease in 2008 and died the day before our first healthy food cooking demonstration took place. As a tribute to him, I vowed to provide access to health care for the poor and in minority communities, to present information about how to maintain health and recognize warning signs of preventable diseases and to work with young men by talking with them early about maintaining their health.

 In 2009 I began a community garden on a vacant lot where illegal dumping, prostitution and drug dealing were rampant. After seeing a news clip about gardening at the White House, the Urban Garden Initiative was born and it’s now a meeting space for our community. We’ve hosted film screenings, dance performances, plays, musical productions, farmers markets and an annual health fair. The urban garden is a demonstration model to teach our neighbors how to garden, to grow and distribute produce and to conduct farmers markets with items from small, family owned farms. In addition, the site is used as a job skills training program for adjudicated minors in the Philadelphia Youth Advocate Program and the formerly convicted, in conjunction with X-Offenders for Community Empowerment, as well as other neighborhood re-entry facilities.

In 2010, I started Garden to Plate cooking classes with adjudicated minors which introduced youth to healthy eating options. My personal philosophy is that all men should know how to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s what I’ve taught my son and what I pass on to youth who regularly eat cheeseburger specials rather than fruits and vegetables. Over 70 young men have graduated from the program. It costs $23,000 to house a prisoner in state facilities. I estimate the gardening and cooking class has saved taxpayers approximately $1,610,000 and only costs $10,000 per year to maintain. The participants raise their grades, get off probation and have marketable skills once they graduate!

If you live in the Philadelphia area and want to start a community garden, the first place to go is the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Garden Tenders program. With a little bit of work and effective programming you too can breathe life into a dead space!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Green Divide Voter Education Series: Preparing for the New Economy

Press Release
For More Information contact: Aissia Richardson, 215-236-1878 Aissia.Richardson@gmail.com Fall Voter Education Forum The Green Divide Series: Preparing for the New Economy Wednesday, October 23, 6:30 PM to 8:30PM TWU 234, 500 N. 2nd St. REAR Entrance on Noble & N. American St. Philadelphia: On Wednesday, October 23, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at Transport Workers Union Local 234 Union Hall 500 N. 2nd Street (parking and entrance in rear on Noble Street & N. American Street) there will be a Voter Education Forum focusing on environmental justice entitled, The Green Divide Series: Preparing for the New Economy. Rob Fleming, Architect, LEED® AP BD&C, Associate Professor and Director, MS in Sustainable Design Program, Philadelphia University will be the keynote speaker. The first 50 to register and attend will be entered into a raffle to receive a signed copy of Rob's new book, Design Education for a Sustainable Future. The evening will also include an update on Greenworks 2013 from Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia. Candidates will also be invited to introduce themselves in preparation for the November 5 Municipal General Election. Offices being contested are JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT - JUDGE OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS - JUDGE OF THE MUNICIPAL COURT - JUDGE OF THE TRAFFIC COURT - DISTRICT ATTORNEY – CONTROLLER Candidates Invited Giovanni Campbell, Judge of Court of Common Pleas; Timika Lane, Judge of Court of Common Pleas; Sierra Thomas Street, Judge of Court of Common Pleas; Alan Butkovitz, City Controller; Seth Williams, District Attorney (D); Danny Alvarez, District Attorney (R) What is the green divide? What is Sustainability? What is Environmental Justice? Why is this topic important? Sustainability is a growing movement that's not just about recycling and compact florescent light bulbs; it is the future of design, development, agriculture, business, food, tourism, and living. Yet, many organizations that work in low income, communities of color have not integrated sustainability into their programs, projects or policy advocacy. While many institutions are concerned about the eradication of the social safety net, a focus on sustainability is absent from broader discussions about the future of the communities many of us work in. The Green Divide is cultural, economics based and about who has access to what resources both financial and technical. As organizations that provide our constituents with the tools they need to navigate through public and private services, jobs, education and housing, we must educate ourselves as we educate our consumers. Several organizations work collectively to host annual forums focusing on issues and with candidates seeking elective office. They include African American United Fund, DNA Connect, Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia, Grands As Parents, Greater Philadelphia Caucus of the I.C.W.A.D., Institute for the Development of African American Youth, Men United for a Better Philadelphia, PhillyEcoCity, The Frator Heru Institute, Uptown Entertainment & Development Corporation, and X-Offenders for Community Empowerment. Please join us on Wednesday, October 23 at 6:30 PM at TWU 234 500 N. 2nd Street, at Spring Garden (ENTRANCE IN REAR on Noble and N. American Street) to learn about sustainability, what the city is doing to promote sustainability, hear from candidates and get educated about the Municipal General Election on November 5. If you don’t vote, you don’t count.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Board Member Profile: Wayne Jacobs