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Waxman disappointed in closure of the University of the Arts

State Rep. Ben Waxman issued a statement on the sudden announcement of the closure of the University of the Arts.

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“I am profoundly disappointed and frustrated by the University of the Arts loss of accreditation and upcoming closure,” Waxman said. “This esteemed arts school has been a cornerstone of creativity and culture in Center City Philadelphia for generations. Its loss is a significant setback and not only a devastating blow to our local community, but also a significant setback for the arts and education in our city at large.”

According to officials, the private school located at 320 S. Broad St. will close on June 7. Dating to the 1870s, it was one of the oldest schools of art or music in the United States.

“I share the anger and sorrow of students, faculty, alumni and the wider community who are grappling with this loss,” Waxman said. “It is unacceptable that such a cornerstone of our cultural and educational landscape has shut its doors in such an abrupt and shocking manner. I am committed to doing everything in my power to find answers as to decisions that led to this sudden closure. Additionally, my office will work tirelessly to provide resources, assistance and advocacy. We will ensure displaced students can continue their education and explore every avenue to ensure that faculty and staff receive the support they deserve during this difficult transition.”

The school serves roughly 1,900 students.

“My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this devastating and shocking news. Together, we must find ways to sustain and celebrate the creative spirit that this institution fostered for so many years.”

Eviction diversion bill passes

Progressives in City Council celebrated the passage of a bill to make the Eviction Diversion Program permanent in Philadelphia. The program, hailed as a national model for keeping people in their homes, connects landlords and tenants to mediation and financial support before an eviction is filed in court. 

Councilwomen Kendra Brooks and Jamie Gauthier, who launched the initiative in 2020 with former Councilwoman Helen Gym, touted the program’s successes over the past several years. The program is credited with preventing 10,000 evictions a year. Nearly half of landlord-tenant pairs with disputes are able to resolve their issues outside of court, avoiding costly legal fees and life-altering eviction filings. 

“Nearly four years ago, our city made a historic stride in eliminating evictions and making the eviction process more fair to renters and small landlords,” said Brooks. “Even as evictions started rising dramatically in other cities after the pandemic, we were able to keep Philadelphia’s eviction rate comparatively low. This program has become a national model, and by making it permanent, we are not only keeping thousands of people in their homes here in Philadelphia but also setting a standard for housing justice that other cities will follow.” 

Evans recovering from minor stroke 

Congressman Dwight Evans announced he suffered a minor stroke and expects a six-week recovery.

“I wanted to let my constituents know that I am recovering from a minor stroke, and I want to emphasize the word minor,” Evans said in a statement. “It was minor enough that I didn’t even realize what had happened for a few days. The main impact seems to be some difficulty with one leg, which will probably impact my walking for some time, but not my long-term ability to serve the people of Philadelphia.

“I received this diagnosis this week and have been taking time to rest and recover and to decide how to go public in a way that would help to educate people. In the coming months, I want to help educate people and remove the stigma that sometimes accompanies strokes – many people can recover and continue on with their life and their work.

“I’m recovering at an inpatient rehabilitation facility and expect to be there about a week longer, followed by outpatient therapy. I currently expect to be back voting in Washington in about six weeks from now. I’m focusing on my healing and would ask for privacy during these six weeks.”

Evans represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South, Southwest and Center City Philadelphia. He was first elected to Congress in 2016.

Scanlon introduces bill to support grandfamilies affected by substance misuse

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson introduced the bipartisan Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act to better support kinship caregivers – the vast majority of whom are grandparents – who have taken over as primary caregivers for children exposed to substance misuse or other trauma. 

More than 2.4 million children are being raised in kinship families or ‘‘grandfamilies’’ by relatives or close family friends without their parents in the home, and the vast majority of such children are raised outside of the foster care system. For every child in foster care living with relatives, there are 18 being raised by relatives outside of the foster care system. The Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act bill will ensure these families are eligible for services under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and provide support to meet the unique needs of children who have experienced trauma, including exposure to substance misuse.

“As we work to combat the opioid epidemic and support those suffering, we also have to address its impact and the unique needs of extended kinship families,” said Scanlon. “Children whose parents are unable to care for them usually fare best when loving grandparents or other relatives are able to step in as primary caregivers, but kinship families often need additional support to meet the children’s needs, particularly when the family is in crisis. I’m proud to join Rep. Thompson in introducing this legislation to kinship caregivers and help our most vulnerable children thrive.”

SEPTA Board approves recommendations for new bus network 

The SEPTA Board voted to approve recommendations for the authority’s first comprehensive bus network redesign, previously known as “Bus Revolution.” SEPTA will now proceed to implement the plan, with the first service changes for customers expected to begin next year. 

The approval by SEPTA’s board follows more than two years of public outreach and revisions to the plan. Prior to formal hearings last fall, there were four rounds of public engagement. There were more than 200 public meetings – including 152 in-person sessions – throughout the SEPTA service region. Events included town halls, open houses, pop-up events at SEPTA transit centers and dozens of virtual meetings. 

Through these meetings and other outreach efforts, SEPTA received and reviewed more than 10,000  comments. That feedback was incorporated into revised versions of the plan, including the finalized version approved by the SEPTA Board. 

“Our partners throughout the city and region have played a major role throughout this process, and we are grateful for their support of SEPTA,” said SEPTA Board Chair Kenneth Lawrence. “In particular, I want to thank members of Philadelphia City Council for working with us on a series of public meetings this spring that helped shape this final plan.” 

SEPTA will launch an extensive public outreach campaign in the coming months to inform customers,  residents and other stakeholders about service changes and the new bus network. 

“Public input has been critical to shaping the bus network plan, and we will continue having these  conversations as we move toward implementation,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S.  Richards. “This plan prioritizes the customer experience by improving access to a more frequent and  reliable bus network that will be more useful to more people. We are excited to deliver these benefits to  our customers and the communities we serve.” 

The bus network changes are focused on enhancing reliability and service frequency. The number of  frequent routes – those coming 15 minutes or better seven days a week – will increase by 30 percent. An  estimated 1.1 million more people will be within a 10-minute walk of frequent bus service. 

The new network will also feature more consistent schedules and a streamlined design that will enhance service reliability and help the authority attract new riders. In six suburban zones, SEPTA would operate  on-demand transit service, similar to Uber or Lyft, in areas where there is demand for transit but not  enough to sustain fixed-route bus operations. Even with all of the proposed changes, over 99 percent of customers currently within a quarter-mile of bus service will still be within a quarter-mile. 

Justinian Society honoring Di Bruno Brothers

The Justinian Society and Foundation will host its annual Election and Law School Scholarship Luncheon on June 13 at noon at the Union League of Philadelphia, with a networking reception at 11:30 a.m. This year’s honoree is William Mignucci, president and CEO of Di Bruno Brothers.

The Justinian Foundation will also present scholarships to outstanding area law students.

Barbara Capozzi, president of the Justinian Foundation, said, “We are proud of Di Bruno Brothers’ support of the Philadelphia community. Di Bruno Brothers donates more than $50,000 annually to local and national charitable organizations.”

Corporate sponsors are Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP and Phyllis Bevilacqua, in memory of Gabriel L.I. Bevilacqua, a veteran litigator at Saul Ewing, former Justinian Chancellor and Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association 

Tax-deductible sponsorship and individual tickets for the event can be purchased at https://www.justinian.org/events.php?action=view&id=360.

The Justinian Society is a legal organization comprised of attorneys, judges and law students of Italian ancestry. ••

Seeking participants for mobile preschool

Xiente, a nonprofit organization committed to fostering economic mobility within communities, announced the launch of its initiative, the Busesito Mobile Preschool. Serving as Philadelphia’s first mobile preschool, Busesito aims to revolutionize early childhood education by providing free, high-quality preschool readiness education to children aged 3 to 5. It also seeks to address the gap between the demand for childcare and available slots in Philadelphia, particularly affecting “communities of color” and low-income families. 

Funded by The William Penn Foundation and Vanguard, and designed to address needs in early childhood education, Busesito offers a multifaceted approach to improving outcomes in these three pillars for children in the care of family, friends and neighbors who often do not possess formal teaching credentials:

• Enhancing Quality of Education: Offering technical assistance to FFNs empowers them to adopt a more structured and educational approach to childcare. By providing resources, training, and support, Xiente aims to empower FFNs to see themselves as educators, thus improving the quality of early childhood education provided in informal settings.

• Increasing Kindergarten Readiness: High-quality early education equips children with the academic, social and emotional skills needed for a successful transition to kindergarten. By focusing on preschool readiness skills such as letters, numbers, shapes, colors, comparisons and phonics, Busesito ensures that children are better prepared academically, socially and emotionally for their next educational journey. Closing the achievement gap at this stage sets a foundation for future academic success.

• Promoting Economic Mobility: Economic stability and access to resources are fundamental aspects of a child’s academic success. By working with families as a whole and addressing economic needs, Xiente aims to support the well-being of the family and create conditions conducive to children’s learning and development. Research consistently shows that children whose families have their basic needs met and are economically stable tend to perform better academically.

Rashanda Perryman, Head of Philanthropy at Vanguard’s Community Stewardship group, praised the initiative, stating, “With its innovative approach to supporting preschool students and their caregivers, Xiente’s mobile preschool is taking a meaningful step towards broadening access to early childhood education in Philadelphia.”

Jennifer Stavrakos, interim director of the Great Learning Program at the William Penn Foundation, expressed excitement about supporting Xiente’s efforts to provide high-quality early education opportunities, stating, “We’re excited to support Xiente’s new effort, as part of our goal to ensure all Philadelphia children have access to high-quality early childhood education programs that prepare them for success in kindergarten and beyond.”

Busesito also collaborates with various organizations within Philadelphia’s early learning ecosystem to offer complementary programming. Partnerships include initiatives like ParentChild+ in collaboration with the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, with outcomes assessed by partner Mathematica.

Additionally, Valley Settlement in Roaring Forks, Colorado, serves as a model for Xiente’s mobile preschool program, providing technical assistance for the pilot. This initiative builds on Xiente’s more than 20 years of experience in delivering quality, bilingual early childhood education and support services, reaching nearly 3,000 families in 2022 alone.

Busesito seeks participants for its fall 2024 cohort across Philadelphia, but especially in North, Northeast and South Philadelphia.For caretakers interested in participating in the program, email Sarah Clemency at sarah.clemency@xiente.org. ••

Entertainment at Parx

Parx Casino is offering the following upcoming entertainment:

June 14: Almost Queen, a tribute to Queen

June 21: Corinne Bailey Rae

June 28: It’s Happening w/Snooki & Joey

July 13: Clay Walker

July 19: Debbie Gibson

July 26: Kameron Marlowe

Aug. 3: Tyler Henry, The Hollywood Medium 

Aug. 23: The Marshall Tucker Band

Sept. 7: Australian Pink Floyd

Sept. 21: Dustin Lynch 

Oct. 4: Heather McDonald

Oct. 18: Straight No Chaser 

Oct. 19: Giggly Squad Live 

Oct. 25: Michael Blaustein

Nov. 9: Air Supply

Nov. 21: Aaron Lewis

Nov. 23: Steve Trevino

Dec. 7: Kathleen Madigan ••

Bus trip to Lancaster County

St. William Travel is planning a trip to Lancaster County on June 20. There will be a Magic & Wonder Theater show, buffet lunch at Shady Maple, round trip by motorcoach, with all taxes and gratuities included. The costs $120. Bus departs from Gloria Dei Estates, 1304 Rhawn St., at 9:15 a.m. and returns 6:15 p.m. Check or money order payable to St. William Travel can be sent c/o 206 Benner St., Philadelphia, PA 19111. Call 215-745-7199. ••

VFW looking for members

Bustleton-Somerton/CTR1 Michael J. Strange VFW Post 6617 meets on the third Wednesday of every month at American Legion Post 810, 9151 Old Newtown Road.

Meetings start at 7:30 p.m.

If you are a military veteran who served in a designated combat zone, you are eligible to join the VFW.

Call Commander Israel Wolmark at 215-725-0630 if you would like to join the post. ••

Trip to Northern Europe

The Bristol Cultural and Historical Foundation is presenting a Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and London cruise, July 25 to Aug. 4, aboard the new “Norwegian Prima.”

Rates per person are $6,261 and $6,495, which include roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia.

Deposit of $350 per person double occupancy is required when booking.

Call 215-788-9408. ••

Party for West Catholic girls class of ‘69

West Catholic Girls Class of 1969 will have its 55th anniversary party on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Anthony’s Ristorante, 865 W. Springfield Road, Springfield. The cost for the luncheon is $65. Call Hannah at 610-764-3249. ••

Ukrainian Folk Festival in August

The Ukrainian Folk Festival will take place on Sunday, Aug. 25, from noon to 8 p.m., at the Ukrainian American Sport Center — Tryzub, County Line and Lower State roads, Horsham.

There will be Ukrainian folk art, music, dance, crafts and historical reenactments, a variety of food and refreshments and a vendors grove. Admission is $15, and a portion will be donated to relief of war victims in Ukraine. Kids under 15 will be admitted free. Parking is free. Call 267-664-3857, email info@tryzub.org or visit www.tryzub.org. ••

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