East Oak Lane: Non-Profit Program Director Helps Provide Scholarships To Students In Need
Portia Fullard, a longtime resident of East Oak Lane and graduate of Temple University, is program director for Sky Community Partners, Inc., a local non-profit organization that identifies children in underserved communities and helps pay for them to attend private schools in the city. The organization has been able to award more than 500 students scholarships between the 2012-2015 school years and has plans to reach even more in the coming years.
Fullard, a former teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, realized that, as in most U.S. cities, your ZIP code determines what school you attend.
“If you’re in an impoverished area, you’re going to an impoverished school, and having a lack of quality education has a trickle-down detrimental effect to students,” Fullard said.
What is Sky Community Partners and what kinds of services does the organization provide?
Sky Community Partners is a non-profit organization 501C3. We provide programs to under-served, low-income families by collaborating with organizations to increase educational opportunities, health awareness and access. We work with other organizations and different entities to increase educational opportunities specifically through scholarships to K-12 schools here in Philadelphia.
How has working closely with children affected your life and future goals?
It’s an eye-opener for me and it makes me very grateful because you realize that you have these parents who are making half what I make, and they are parents and they have children, but above all, their priority is sending their child to a quality school. It makes me want to work harder with making sure that organizations like Sky stay available and that policies like the OSTC Program (and) EITC Program stay funded as far as on the state level. And then also fighting for additional options in higher quality educational options, whether it’s public, charter or private.
What schools have you partnered with?
Cristo Rey High School, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Aim Academy, The City School, West Catholic, Mercy Vocational, Community Partnership School, The French International School, Saint Monica School, Saint Pio School.
Does Sky Community Partners have any upcoming events and what types of programs have been held in the past?
Right now, our two signature events that we have are the health walk, which will take place in April, and then our fundraiser which is in December every year. We are brewing a possible partnership with Microsoft to start a coding program for young girls in the city of Philadelphia.
How can others get involved with Sky Community Partners?
Businesses and individuals can redirect their tax dollars to our organization and they’ll also receive a tax credit. We are always looking for volunteers for the various events that we have. We definitely believe in partnering with other organizations, so as we continue to do that, we want to be able to support initiatives that they have and always having volunteers to pull from is great.
Where do you see SCP in the next five to 10 years?
I definitely hope to still be here. I hope that we will be able to not only get back to a number of 500 scholars, but be able to maintain that number. One thing that we’re working on is definitely providing scholarships for the next initial year, but also ensuring that they have that steady support to make sure that they’re able to stay at those schools. We want to increase our health awareness reach and find other ways to make the health part year-round and consistent and definitely continue our partnerships. We definitely want to be partnering with organizations that we can redirect our families to for services that we do not provide.
Visit: http://www.skycommunitypartners.com for more information.
– Text and images by Talore McBride and Chelsea Ann Rovnan.