Education and Community Development Department
This year, Esperanza accomplished ambitious goals in education and community development. Through the Hunting Park Community Science Network, we have exposed our residents to a number of science-related events, including a “Discovery Day” in Hunting Park and a “Creation Station” at Esperanza College, with a combined attendance of approximately 500 people. We were also able to partner with Ayuda Community Center to run a successful Summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Pilot Program for a number of middle school students. As this year comes to an end, we continue to work hard to build capacity for STEM in this neighborhood and look forward to developing these initiatives even more in the upcoming years.
Our community events have also exceeded our expectations. This year, Esperanza funded 19 NeighborCare Team projects for block-level revitalization. Over 280 residents directly participated in these projects and over 1,500 have benefited from the revitalization efforts. In addition, Esperanza partnered with Tree Philly, a program of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, to host a successful Tree Giveaway, distributing 92 trees to the community and furthering our mission for a greener Hunting Park.
Economic Development Department
In 2014, Esperanza expanded its successful Commercial Corridor Program through the addition of a new Junior Corridor Manager to our team and the inclusion of two new commercial corridors. Thanks to this development, over 200 small businesses on 3.6 miles of corridor in the Hunting Park and Feltonville neighborhoods benefit from vital small business support and corridor management services. The growth of the Corridor Program fulfills a goal set forth in the Hunting Park Neighborhood Strategic Plan 2022 to promote economic and business development on all of the neighborhood’s corridors, creating an environmental that provides opportunity and needed services to the low-income community.
Esperanza Housing and Economic Development continues to give entrepreneurs the tools necessary to fulfill their dreams of owning a successful, thriving business. Esperanza staff provides technical assistance to business owners to help them create a vision for physical improvements and access public and private funding sources to implement it. Indio’s Auto Center is a second-generation family business that was the latest beneficiary of these efforts, receiving over $25,000 in grants and rebates towards the implementation of an ambitious $40,000 renovation. The impact of the transformation was as impressive financially as it was aesthetically, increasing the shop’s once declining profits by an average of 47% per month, and facilitating the rebirth of a neighborhood icon.
Esperanza knows that small businesses located in low-income neighborhoods often struggle to access new customers and opportunities that could improve their profitability and fulfill their potential for growth. In fact, in a 2014 survey of businesses on Hunting Park’s commercial corridors, business owners selected Lack of Exposure and Marketing as one of the top three challenges to doing business in the community. Through a grant from Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Esperanza was able to take an important step toward equalizing the playing field by creating MyHuntingPark, a new website for marketing local businesses. The site gives the Hunting Park Business Association and its members unprecedented access to new potential customers and a tool for taking their businesses to the next level.
Through all our work, Esperanza continues to strengthen the Hunting Park community and to serve “the least of these.” Whether by helping an entrepreneur realize the dream of a successful business or helping a young student discover the wonder of science for the first time, your gift helps us to transform and revitalize Hunting Park, one step at a time. That is The Esperanza Opportunity.