RiverGuides
Wooden Boat Factory
PWBF is a Philadelphia-based non-profit that uses the maritime arts and environmental education as a framework via which we offer strength-based, trauma-informed interventions to youth residing in the Kensington, Port Richmond and Frankford areas of Philadelphia (zip codes 19124, 19125 and 19134) – communities that face significant unemployment, low levels of formal educational attainment, high rates of violent crime, below-average income levels and high incidences of DHS reports. We currently offer three year-round, Out-of-School-Time initiatives: Boat Build (apprenticeships in traditional wooden boatbuilding for high-school youth); Sail (apprenticeships in sail making and small boat sailing for middle school youth); and RiverGuides (apprenticeships for high-school students in environmental education and stewardship). But our work is not just about building boats, crafting sails and advancing environmental literacy; it is about shaping lives. We work to foster positive self-image among our participants as well as character and leadership development, knowing that how youth think about themselves has an impact on how they act as well as their potential for success. Our approach is rooted in Ken Ginsburg’s Reaching Teens curriculum (which is grounded in the seven Cs of Resiliency: Competence; Confidence; Connection; Character; Contribution; Coping and Control) and also reflects best practice established for key domains of social-emotional learning (SEL; emotional management, empathy, teamwork, responsibility, initiative and problem solving) articulated in Preparing Youth to Thrive, a field guide to social-emotional learning that PWBF participated in developing. Our initiatives offer 80 seats at any point in time, empowering youth through project-based and service learning. Our ultimate aim is to graduate youth from our programs with the skills and resources they need to earn their high-school diplomas and to stay on track to succeed in post-secondary education and employment. With support from the Thomas J. and Majorie Gray Foundation, PWBF will sustain and expand its RiverGuides program, which offers its high-school-aged participants leadership opportunities with respect to fostering a culture of environmental action in their communities. Engaging residents of low-income communities, like those we serve, in environmentalism is important given that their neighborhoods tend to be more environmentally compromised. A number of factors have conspired to leave residents of our surrounding neighborhoods with a distrust of outside conservation groups, whose membership profiles often does not align with the racial and/or ethnic background of our residents. Leveraging resources from within the community, however, offers more promise. PWBF has an existing and growing fleet of purpose-designed 18’ wooden boats crafted by our Boat Build student apprentices that are being utilized for environmental education and stewardship activities. The power of youth voice and action has already netted positive results with respect to protecting our watershed. We want to build eco-allies within the community, inspiring awareness, consideration and choice by engaging our RiverGuide apprentices in youth-led projects that have visible and quantifiable results. Specifically, we want to expand the number and type of audiences the RiverGuides reach via the environmental education and stewardship activities in which they engage with a particular focus on outreach to middle-school-aged youth.
$40,000  Funded  Inspire