Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service Receives $75,000 Grant from American Airlines to Support the Work of National Service Task Force Steering Committee

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Kenney announced an exciting partnership between the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service and American Airlines today, including a $75,000 grant to expand service year opportunities and decrease barriers for those who want to serve. Through Project Soar, a new $125,000 initiative that launched today, American Airlines is deepening its investments in Philadelphia and committing resources to programs that address poverty through education, food access, job readiness and more.

The City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service convenes a steering committee—the National Service Task Force Steering Committee—to explore expanding opportunities and decreasing barriers to service years. A service year experience is a full-time, paid commitment to support and empower under resourced communities. In Philadelphia, 2,500 service year members serve in almost 30 programs annually—including City Year, PowerCorpsPHL and AmeriCorps VISTA. Through the partnership the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, Project Soar will improve access to local service year opportunities, provide greater financial stability for those serving, and create career pipelines as participants graduate and seek employment in Philadelphia.

“The greatest pursuit in life is service to others,” said Mayor Kenney, “We know that service year corps members have some of the most important jobs in our city. They are tutoring our students, cleaning up our parks, connecting residents to health care resources, and more. This partnership with American Airlines will allow us to continue to use service years as a framework for building community-based, sustainable solutions to our city’s most pressing needs, and make the opportunity to serve available to all.”

The National Service Task Force Steering Committee is exploring ways to increase access and expansion of service year opportunities by decreasing the existing barriers to service. For many, the limited living stipend—meant to mirror the conditions of those corps members are serving—can be a major barrier to service. Those without independent resources may be discouraged from participating due to food insecurity, housing constraints, or other issues.

“The outcomes of a service year are mutually beneficial for members and communities,” said Amanda Gamble, Chief Service Officer for the City of Philadelphia. “Individuals who have gone through a service year develop stronger professional, leadership and problem solving skills. The communities they serve experience an enhanced sense of civic engagement and become more self-sustaining. We should not allow financial barriers to keep folks—especially those who come from underserved communities themselves—from participating in these amazing programs. Our partnership with American Airlines will serve as a catalyst for removing barriers to service and will allow us to engage even more people in service years.”

To support efforts to ensure national service programs are accessible to every Philadelphian, the City will use the grant from American Airlines to establish a scholarship fund within the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia—providing the resources necessary to expand Service Year opportunities and increase accessibility. In turn, growth in the region’s national service programs will allow programs to create community-based solutions that alleviate poverty, connect individuals to career pipelines, and foster professional development opportunities.

“We recognize that our future growth and long-term success is directly linked to the growth and prosperity of the community where we all live and work,” said Jim Moses, Vice President of PHL Hub operations for American Airlines. “That’s why American Airlines and our nearly 10,000 local team members have chosen to make smart investments in community-based partnerships that are addressing the root causes of poverty, supporting a job-ready workforce, and improving outcomes for all Philadelphians.”

Unveiled today in Philadelphia, Project Soar is a first-of-its-kind initiative launched by American Airlines to convene nonprofit, government and business leaders to discuss systemic issues facing communities in the key markets they serve. Through collaborative conversations and strategic investments totaling $125,000, American is focusing local investments, team member efforts and partnerships to address and overcome the root causes of poverty, which have kept one-in-four Philadelphians from achieving financial stability. In addition to the grant made to expand service year opportunities, American Airlines announced a $50,000 gift to support Philabundance’s new Ending Hunger for Good program.