Action for Early Learning
West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning
Our Community. Our Neighborhood. Our Kids.
Education Begins at Birth - Make sure every child is ready for success!
The West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning Initiative (AFEL) is a Drexel Universityled collaboration of social service and education agencies and community stakeholders working to create an education support system for families in the 19104 zip code, specifically in the highneed, highpoverty neighborhoods of West Philadelphia, recently designated the Mantua Promise Zone. Part of Drexel’s University and Community Partnerships, the Initiative aims to build awareness around the importance of early childhood education while strengthening the capacity of child care centers. It also supports PreK and K3 instruction with a strong emphasis on literacy so that children are better prepared for Kindergarten and reading by third grade. Many of AFEL’s program activities take place at Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Funding for this multiyear initiative is made possible through support from the Lenfest and William Penn Foundations and the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).
Through placement at The Excite Center, AFEL is partnering with the Shima Seiki Haute Tech Lab to conduct the study “Seamless Garment Design to Improve Comfort in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Based on the Investigation of Clothing Sensitivity Issues.” The AJ Drexel Autism Institute awarded Shima Seiki a grant to study clothing sensitivity among autistic children. Shima Seiki’s lab team will work with AFEL to engage interested parents and children in the neighborhood with the aim of creating prototype clothing samples for autistic children.
AFEL Initiative Goals
- ENSURE HIGH QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION (ECE)
Increase local families’ accessibility to high quality ECE centers; provide ECE centers with support for quality improvement; improve the quality of PreK to Third Grade instruction with an emphasis on literacy.
- BUILD KNOWLEDGE AND ENGAGEMENT IN ECE AMONG FAMILIES
Implement community outreach to build families’ awareness and knowledge of the importance of high quality ECE and developmental milestones.
- IMPROVE TRANSITIONS, KINDERGARTEN READINESS AND LITERACY OUTCOMES
Facilitate transitions between PreK/Head Starts and Kindergartens to align curricula and improve coordination and communication between schools, providers and parents. Improve the quality of PreK to third grade literacy instruction.
- SUPPORT EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES
Coordinate Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screenings for 200 children in the Promise Zone and work with AFEL Alliance childcare centers to provide trainings and workshops to directors, teachers and parents to promote early intervention and detection of ASD. In partnership with Excite’s Shima Seiki Lab, conduct a study to assess the impact of garment design on autistic children with sensory integration dysfunction to create sample clothing designs.
- COORDINATE A SYSTEMS APPROACH
Create a collaborative team approach that aligns ECE partners, citywide organizations and agencies that supports a placebased approach to sustainability, neighborhood systems and capacity building.
- Academy of Natural Sciences
- Childcare Information Services (CCIS)
- Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI)
- Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC)
- Drexel School of Education
- A.J. Drexel Autism Institute
- Free Library of Philadelphia Read by Fourth Campaign
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation – Philadelphia (LISC)
- Montgomery Early Learning Centers (MELC)
- Mantua Civic Association
- Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity
- Promise Zone Education Committee
- A Running Start Campaign for Universal PreK
- People’s Emergency Center (PEC)
- School District of Philadelphia
- Southeast Regional Key (SERK)
- United Way
- Wordsworth Academy, Community Umbrella Agency, DHS
Dornsife calendar of events: https://www.drexel.edu/dornsife/
West Philly Promise Zone: https://westphillypn.org/afel
University and Community Partnerships: https://drexel.edu/civicengagement/
For more information on collaborating with AFEL in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone,
contact Maria Walker, AFEL Project Manager