In 2016, immigrants composed 15 percent of the population in Philadelphia, while more than 25 percent of Philadelphians in recent years were immigrants or United States natives with immigrant parents.
This includes almost 76,000 people younger than 18 years old, making approximately one in four city children immigrants or first-generation Americans.
The West Philadelphia-based African Family Health Organization (AFAHO) recently launched its second annual summer African Youth Empowerment Program for a segment of this population: immigrant, refugee and asylee Caribbean and African youth. The initiative aims to help the youth integrate into Philadelphia society and improve their health and education through workshops, tutoring and other activities.
The program, which also holds sessions during the school year and is based at Drexel University’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, started in September 2016 as a response to needs expressed by community members.
“A lot of the community members are not English-proficient [or] don’t have advanced literacy skills,” said Oni Richards-Waritay, the executive director of AFAHO. “Helping the kids with homework at home was an issue and helping the kids with English-language instructions was an issue.”
It’s much more than that, though.