How to Be a Better Philadelphian: Give a Kid a Chance

Send a Girl to the Prom
In Joyce Jesko’s fairy-tale-come-true, every girl goes to the ball. Her nonprofit Fairy Godmothers helps teens from families that can’t afford the steep price of the modern prom by holding annual fairs at which new and gently used gowns go for $5, shoes for $2, and accessories for between $1 and $3. Help out by donating your used items. Despite a major snowstorm, the 2007 prom fair helped dress up more than 1,000 girls. 215-675-9391,

Philadelphia Academies, Inc.
This group — run by the other Nutter, Michael’s super-cool wife Lisa — helps public-school students prepare for college or a career. Twenty-six “academies” cover everything from automotive repair to communications to health and life sciences.

Do: Talk about your profession on a career-day panel.

GIVE: $400 can cover an academy student’s expenses — field trips, books, workshops in financial literacy and networking — for one year. 215-546-6300,

Cradles to Crayons
C2C works to provide poor and homeless children with the basics they need: clothes, shoes, school supplies, arts and crafts supplies, baby products, food, bath products.

DO: Volunteer in the Giving Factory Tuesdays through Saturdays, inspecting donated “gently used” items that will go to kids in need.

GIVE: $25 helps prepare a package for one child, $500 for a shelter’s worth of kids. Or donate your children’s gently used clothes and supplies. 215-836-0958,

Fred’s Footsteps
Started by the family of the late Independence Blue Cross CEO G. Fred DiBona Jr., this organization gives financial aid to working families who find themselves on the edge of financial ruin due to the expense of taking care of a critically ill child.

DO: Volunteer to help plan the annual Party in the Park fund-raising event in Franklin Square (May 30, 2008).

GIVE: $100 covers gas for one week for a family with a seriously ill child; $10,000 covers the average cost of making a bathroom handicapped-accessible. 610-850-3290,
Philly natives Becky and Kipp Fawcett started this national nonprofit — which offers financial aid to make adoption possible — after their five-year battle with infertility left them financially and emotionally drained and opened their eyes to the obstacles facing potential adoptive parents.

DO: Tell 10 people you know about HelpUsAdopt, and ask them to do the same.

GIVE: $100 covers one application fee for adoptive parents; $10,000 covers the medical expenses of one birth mother. 917-684-5484,

After School Activities Partnerships
With the goal of keeping kids busy — and learning — after the dismissal bell, this group is a clearinghouse for after-school programs like chess tournaments, yoga classes, athletic programs and drama clubs.

DO: Start an after-school program at your neighborhood school.

GIVE: $25 to support activities such as chess and Scrabble games. 215-545-2727,

Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education
Since 1952, this nonprofit organization has been helping at-risk adolescents through year-round tennis and tutoring programs — with the help of on-the-board sports honchos like Michael Barkann, Mary Carillo and crazy pants Bud Collins.

DO: Volunteer to work at the annual benefit, always held the last week of April.

GIVE: Your donation provides disadvantaged kids with free professional tennis instruction. 215-487-3477,

Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House
Families whose sick children are receiving care at any of the area’s hospitals — and who live more than 25 miles away — can stay here for $15 a night, use the well-stocked kitchen to make their own meals, and save their money for what really matters: their children’s medical care.

DO: Sign up to be a Guest Chef, and prepare a meal for 80 or 90 weary people who come home to the RMH after long days at the hospital.

GIVE: Not just money — RMH is also in need of bricks (to fill the engraved courtyard), recycled inkjet and laser toner cartridges (RMH gets $2 for every one), and soda can tabs (metal recycling companies buy them by the pound). 215-387-8406,

Students Run Philly Style
This program trains kids to run a full or half marathon — and in doing so teaches them about living a healthy lifestyle as well as setting and achieving goals in school and beyond.

DO: Become a Running Leader, to train and supervise students and coordinate races and events. Or become a Friend and attend races, man water stations, and cheer the kids on.

GIVE: $100 covers the cost of food, transportation and entry into the Philadelphia Marathon for one runner; $500 pays for one entire team to run in three road races. 215-985-2672,

City Year Greater Philadelphia
So that’s what all those people in the red jackets on the city’s streets are about: They rep their local City Year corps by mentoring and tutoring young people, to encourage and develop strong civic leaders.

DO: Volunteer for one of the three programs in the Youth Leadership Corps, and help turn elementary (Starfish), middle-school (Young Heroes) and high-school (City Heroes) students into caring, responsible civic leaders.

GIVE: Sponsor an event in your area, such as the “Serve-a-thon,” to raise public awareness about social change. 267-386-7035,

Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund
After Avalon native Brendan Borek died of pediatric cancer in 1991, his family began a nonprofit organization to aid Cape May County families dealing with the disease. The fund acts as a support network and covers life expenses while families are caring for a sick child.

DO: Head to Cape May from August 11th through 16th for fashion shows, a surf contest, and special events at area restaurants, all part of Brendan Borek Week.

GIVE: $75 pays for travel reimbursement for a family for a month; $125 covers groceries for a family of four for a week; $500 does the same for a month. 609-967-0100,

Children’s Literacy Initiative
CLI helps kids thrive in school by ensuring that their teachers are trained in the most up-to-date and effective literacy practices from pre-K to third grade.

DO: Go to the Jenkintown Barnes & Noble between now and January 2008; proceeds from books purchased off a special display go to the CLI.

GIVE: $300 purchases a home lending library for a classroom. 215-561-4676,

Institute for the Development of African-American Youth
Through various programs (Don’t Fall Down in the ’Hood, Young Fathers United, Curfew Center), the IDAAY seeks to help young people rise above the challenges of living in a disadvantaged area through social service programs in their communities.

DO: Attend events benefiting the foundation, such as An Evening of Regal Splendor, at which, this past year, Ed Rendell was given the 2007 Community Hero Award.

GIVE: When you donate, specify which program (they benefit different age groups and areas) you’d like your funds to go to. 215-572-7210,

Philadelphia City Sail
Founded by Captain Rick LeFevre in 1991, this group gives at-risk kids lessons about the environment, science, math and more when they hit the water — from the Delaware River down to the Chesapeake Bay — on the 75-foot North Wind, which, incidentally, is available for private charter when not serving as a seafaring school.

DO: Don your best skipper hat and help crew a ship during youth-program sails.

GIVE: Anything from the wish list the group maintains on its website, from unbreakable cups and mugs to bunk sheets to office supplies. 215-413-0451,