PhilaSoup in 2013-2014: New Website, New Mission, New Plan

Welcome to the new PhilaSoup website! This is just one of the many exciting new projects that we have created in the past year, and we are thrilled to share with you the many developments we've been working on to make PhilaSoup stronger and better than ever.

Last year, PhilaSoup was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a Fairmount Ventures planning grant, which allowed us to work with a team of consultants who helped us to create a strategic plan, revised mission statement, and blueprint for growing over the next year.

Arguably the most important piece that came from these planning sessions was a revised mission statement. This new declaration of our purpose and vision has helped us to rethink what we do and how we do it, and is our North Star for the coming year. We are excited to share this new mission statement with you, which is:

To bring together diverse sectors of the Philadelphia education community as the convener of innovative ideas and mutual support, ultimately enhancing the learning experiences of our students.

Stemming from this mission statement was an understanding that we needed more voices at the table, especially those of teachers; therefore, one of the major tasks ahead of us was growing our board to include more than founding members NikkaLandau, Claire Landau, Veronika Paluch, and Elaine Leigh. We agreed that expanding our board to include more folks involved in and passionate about Philadelphia's students would help us to have a greater scope and reach of our work.

In the spring of 2013 we opened up applications, and are proud to announce that we now have a board that is 13 strong! Our new board members have a wide variety of professional background - including teachers, policy makers, professors, small business owners, consultants, and lawyers - and their bios are here if you'd like to read more about them.

In addition to expanding our board, we have also decided that we need more concrete ways to honor the teachers who are committed to our work and mission, as well as creating leadership opportunities for them within our organization. We are therefore putting together a Teacher Ambassador Program, which will invite teachers to serve as an Advisory Board for PhilaSoup, while also helping to raise awareness within their communities and schools about the work that we do. Teacher Ambassadors will help to find schools and teachers interested in professional development around PhilaSoup grant writing; encourage teachers to come to our Soups throughout the year; and provide vital feedback to the PhilaSoup board around the activities and direction of our organization. We look forward to rolling out this program in early September, and will keep you posted on its growth!

And last but not least, this website is also an outcome from our planning sessions and shift in focus. We aim to position PhilaSoup as a resource for educators who are looking to learn, connect, create community, and support one another. Especially as the educational pathways of Philadelphia become further riddled with potholes and bumps, we see it as more important than ever to remind ourselves that regardless of the type of school in which we teach, or on which side of the issues we stand, we all have the same priority: helping Philadelphia children to have rich, exciting, consistent, meaningful educational experiences. Therefore, this site - which now includes a news section, blog, and events - will hopefully help you to join the community of PhilaSoup educators who care deeply about our students, and want to connect with one another.

We're always open to feedback and your thoughts, and would love to hear from you at info@philasoup.com!