Giving back: WSFS Foundation, Mountaire, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross,


WSFS Foundation awards $425,000 in grants

The WSFS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of WSFS Financial Corporation, awarded a total of $425,000 to three community programs and organizations.

Vernita Dorsey, WSFS’ Senior Vice President and Director of Community Strategy, and Theresa Hasson, Vice President and WSFS’ Director of Community Reinvestment, presented the $375,000 grant to nonprofit community partners from The Teen Warehouse.

Vernita Dorsey, WSFS’ senior vice president and director of community strategy, and Theresa Hasson, vice president and WSFS’ director of community reinvestment, joined nonprofit community partners from The Teen Warehouse, the Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Year Up Wilmington at WSFS Bank’s headquarters in Wilmington for a presentation of the grants.

The Teen Warehouse is a planned community center for teenage youth that is already under development in the Riverside neighborhood of Wilmington and is scheduled to open in September. The center will be a safe place that Wilmington teens can visit after school to learn, play games and stay active. It will also support youth who are interested in creating works of arts, including stage plays, painting, dance, and music.

The $375,000 grant will be paid over five annual payments of $75,000, which will help fund The Teen Warehouse’s operating expenses. The center will include a library and reading room, a computer lab, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab, a gym, a health center and several multipurpose classrooms.

The Teen Warehouse is spearheaded by a coalition of several nonprofit organizations that the WSFS Foundation and WSFS Bank have previously supported.

The WSFS Foundation has awarded $25,000 to the Delaware ProStart Program by the Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Delaware ProStart is a two-year industry-written curriculum that teaches high school students culinary and management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and food-service industry.

The program has experienced increased growth year over year benefiting more than 3,000 under-privileged and under-served students from 18 high schools throughout Delaware. This is the third consecutive year that the WSFS Foundation has made a grant to the Delaware ProStart Program.

Year Up Wilmington is an intensive, one-year program for college students—ages 18-24—that combines professional coaching, hands-on skill development, and internships. Year Up Wilmington currently supports 80 college students enrolled at Wilmington University.

The organization plans to use the $25,000 grant from the WSFS Foundation to scale its program and double its enrollment to 160 students per year. To date, Year Up Wilmington’s curriculum and professional development programs have helped 85 percent of its students to gain meaningful employment after graduating from college.

blankMountaire makes $20,000 donation to Sussex Boys and Girls Club.

Mountaire Farmsprovided a $20,000 donation to help launch a fund-raising campaign to expand the Oak Orchard/Riverdale Boys and Girls Club in Delaware.

The club currently serves 100 children from the local area, and has a waiting list of those who want to participate but are turned away.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear stories about kids who could benefit from these before and after school programs, but can’t join their peers because of space limitations,” said Mountaire Farms President Phillip Plylar, who toured the facility last week.

“This facility is right in our own backyard, and we drive by it almost every day,” Plylar said. “We are proud to be able to help raise awareness about the need to help more kids find a safe place to play and learn.”

“We are so appreciative of the support and pledge of Mountaire to help us keep more kids safe and mentored in the Millsboro/Long Neck area,” said Erica Kennedy, Director of the Oak Orchard/Riverdale Boys & Girls Club. “Keeping those kids in a Boys & Girls Club environment who don’t have adult supervision at home … is essential to their long-term success, safety and happiness.”

The goal of the expansion plan is to build a gymnasium, more bathrooms, and new classrooms to accommodate a teen program at the facility. Currently, the Club only accepts children from Kindergarten through 8thgrade. A pre-school for 20 children operates a few miles away on Oak Orchard Road.

Independence Blue Cross partners with Precisionists

Independence Blue Cross, a leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania, recently began collaborating with The Precisionists(TPI), a Wilmington-based organization focused on employment for adults with disabilities. The pilot program, which launched August 2018, uses the talents of a team of autistic adults fromTPI’s workforce to tackle critical business needs within Independence’s Human Resources department.

“When properly assessed and trained, people with autism are extremely high-performing employees working in critical and challenging jobs such as administrative business functions, including scanning documents and data entry, software testing, website QA, and data analytics,” said Ernie Dianastasis, CEO of The Precisionists. “When you consider that more than 80 percent of people with autism in the country are either unemployed or underemployed, we are making a true difference in engaging a significant, untapped labor force. We are thrilled to partner on this project with a great company like Independence, and together we will positively impact many lives.”

Individuals taking part in the pilot program were identified, assessed, trained and employed by TPI. For the last four months, they have been carrying out project-based work, including scanning and uploading documents to make the information readily available in electronic format. All work is performed at The Precisionists’ Innovation & Technology Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

“The Precisionists have created a forward-thinking employment model based on excellence, innovation, and empowerment – three values that guide our work at Independence,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross. “We are proud to team-up with TPI to offer a supportive, welcoming work environment for the people in the program, many whose talents have traditionally been underutilized in the workplace.”

Highmark Health Options donates coats to all Anna Mote school students

Last month, Highmark Health Options, a Medicaid managed care organization is teaming up with Operation Warm, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing brand new winter coats to children in need, to help alleviate the financial burden of a brand new coat for hundreds of families in Wilmington.

Highmark Health Options providednew coats to the entire student body at Anna P. Mote Elementary School in Wilmington through its partnership with Operation Warm. Operation Warm identifies children by qualification for the federal Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) Program. Anna P. Mote Elementary School has 100 percent of its students living in need.

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