Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School

  • Adopted a failing, inner-city school – offering financial support and deep, meaningful mentorships.
  • School rankings have gone from bottom 20% to top 20%

General Colin Powell visiting Cook-Wissackon

Background

Located at the edge of the East Falls Projects in a low income area of Philadelphia, Cook-Wissahickon was a typical failed inner-city school.  Plagued by high teacher turnover and low morale amongst both teachers and students, its students consistently ranked in the bottom percentages on key success indicators.  Add to that a lack of parental involvement, no after-school program, and a host of other issues, and its chances of a positive rebound were highly unlikely.

“The progress demonstrated at Cook-Wissahickon School on the PSSA has been remarkable and laudatory.  I attribute the growth to a combination of factors – high among them is the continuous support provided through the exemplary partnership with Progressive Business Publications.”

-Deidre R. Farmbry, Ed.D.
Former Chief Academic Officer
School District of Philadelphia

How We Did It

Taking our lead from Colin Powell and his “America’s Promise”, Progressive Business Publications, through the Progressive Business Publications Charitable Trust and The Satell Family Foundation, helped to develop and then fund a host of support programs for the students and faculty of Cook-Wissahickon.

Cook Wissahickon’s after-school program.

  • Student Mentorship Program – Over 40 of our employees act as mentors each year, offering moral support and guidance to the students who need it most.  Mentors spend one-on-one time with their students twice a month, during the work day, both on-site at the school, and at our offices.  This frequent and personal approach has established a core success and has had a positive school-wide influence with all constituencies – students, parents, teachers and administrators.
  • After-School Program – A daily, safe, structured program for children whose parents need to work. The program includes healthy, fun games, developmental activities, sports programs, snacks,  and monitored homework assistance.  In an effort to help build family bonding, parents sign a contract to review their child’s homework with them each evening.  About 90% of this program is funded by Progressive Business Publications, while participating families pay the other 10%.
  • Before-School Program – This daily program provides a healthy breakfast, and a safe environment for students whose families need to be at work early.

“Mr. Satell and Progressive Business Publications have been the answer to every parent’s question:  “What do we do with our children while we work?” Thank you all for the morning and after-school programs.  You have truly been our savior.”

– Rosemarie Fuscellaro
Director
Cook-Wissahickon After-School Program

In addition to these core programs, we also fund a series of support programs, including:

  • Educational class visits
  • Career days and importance of education days
  • SpecialsSpeaker  events
  • Special presentations responsive to school needs
  • Eighth Grade Enrichment Program
  • Eighth Grade Yearbook
  • Eighth Grade Graduation
  • Professional Development opportunities for faculty &  staff
  • Annual Thanksgiving dinners for 25 needy families throughout the school
  • Annual Faculty Gift Collection for Families with challenges is matched 100% to double its impact.

Philosophy

Like all of our philanthropic efforts, our focus is squarely aimed at creating a positive, supportive, encouraging, nurturing, and safe culture that brings out the best in students, parents, teachers and administrators.  We leave the academics to the teachers, principal, and school system, and offer the support they need to achieve their highest potential.  The success of this approach is evident in the success of the program, and we are proud to play our part.

“When I tell other administrators about the partnership that we enjoy and value with Progressive Business Publications, they almost don’t believe me.  It makes the key difference in our school’s success, and in our school community’s morale.  We are very fortunate and very grateful.”

– Karen Thomas
Principal
Cook-Wissahickon

Critical Keys

  1. We collaborate only with the Principal.
  2. We fully fund all our initiatives, but only our initiatives.  Outside staff and activities we choose to sponsor are paid for directly by us.
  3. We limit ourselves to our own initiatives and leave the academics to the experts.
  4. If the school or district is ever unhappy, we would leave.  Neither has ever wanted us to leave, and they enthusiastically embrace our holistic support.

What We Don’t Do

We do not take over programs, projects or funding that the school system has dropped.  Instead, we concentrate our efforts on pre-school and after-school programs, mentoring, supplemental support and modeling good citizenship to provide examples of responsibility and a positive “can-do” spirit.