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City Year Philadelphia 25th Anniversary

Join us as we celebrate 25 years of real, meaningful service and impact by our diverse teams of AmeriCorps members to school communities citywide. Support us as we advance our momentum forward for the students of Philadelphia.

Celebrating 25 Years of City Year Philly

Join us as we celebrate 25 years of real, meaningful service and impact by our diverse teams of AmeriCorps members to school communities citywide. Support us as we advance our momentum forward for the students of Philadelphia.

Thinking back to my Corps year, what stands out to me was the camaraderie and closeness of the corps. The friendships that were formed, the honest conversations that were had, and the opportunities for professional development by staff were impressive.

Wyneshia Foxworth Founding City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member (1997-1998) and City Year Philadelphia Executive Director (2005-2013)

Timeline of City Year Philadelphia’s History


  • Inspiration: Community leaders are inspired by a young, idealistic 20-year-old AmeriCorps member from Philadelphia, serving in Boston.


  • Visit to Boston: Prominent Philadelphia leaders travel to Boston to observe City Year in action and bring best practices back to Philadelphia. This group included Michael Nutter, future Philadelphia Mayor; Joe Banner, future President and Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Eagles; and Phil Behr, co-founder of Navigator Equity Partners.


  • Planning and Recruitment: Through collaboration with other Philadelphia nonprofits, planning and recruitment for the first City Year Philadelphia corps begins.


  • First Service Year: Philadelphia becomes the ninth City Year site in the country, with nine staff members and 75 Corps members—the largest founding Corps size to date. In 1997-1998, City Year Philly partnered with one school—Meade Elementary—and several community-based nonprofits, including Book Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Mural Arts, and the Red Cross.


  • First Young Heroes and City Heroes Graduation: In the Young Heroes and City Heroes programs (also known as Youth Corps), City Year Philly AmeriCorps members engaged teams of local middle and high school students every weekend in community service projects and learning about social issues impacting Philadelphia. These programs both ran until 2012.
  • Best of City Year: City Year Philadelphia wins “Best of City Year” (then known as the “Cup of Idealism”), awarded annually to one City Year site in recognition of excellence in service. City Year Philly won the award five more times, in 2002, 2008, 2009, 2017, and 2019.


  • First Gala: City Year Philadelphia hosts its first annual gala honoring a member of the community, featuring honoree Warren “Pete” Musser.


  • Funding from the School District of Philadelphia: City Year Philadelphia becomes the first site nationwide to negotiate School District funding, ensuring long-term financial stability. In later years under Superintendent Dr. William Hite, who held the role from 2012–2022, the School District increases its funding for City Year and pivots to funding City Year from individual schools instead of the School District’s Central Office.
  • High School Service: City Year Philadelphia officially begins partnering with high schools through the School District of Philadelphia, providing critical support to keep students on track to graduation.
  • National City Year Gathering: in June 2002, the entire City Year network gathers at the University of Pennsylvania for “cyzygy,” an annual national convening of City Year staff and AmeriCorps members. Over the course of a few days, more than 1,000 people contribute to over 20 service projects throughout the city, including eight school beautification projects.


  • Whole School, Whole Child: Based on a research study from Johns Hopkins, City Year reshapes its national service model known as “Whole School, Whole Child,” which provides holistic support for students, classrooms, and the whole school. Around this same time, City Year also streamlines its service to in-school support only, increasing AmeriCorps members’ impact on students and schools.
  • Diplomas Now: Philadelphia becomes the first City Year site to pilot Diplomas Now, a national cross-organizational program aimed at keeping students on track to high school graduation. Diplomas Now launches at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences in 2008-2009 and expands to more schools and City Year sites the following year.


  • First Women’s Leadership Event: City Year Philadelphia hosts its first annual Women’s Leadership event, featuring keynote speaker Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC.
  • Instructional Coaches Added: City Year Philadelphia adds new Instructional Coach staff positions that work directly with AmeriCorps members in schools on training, observation, and coaching, ensuring successful student outcomes.


  • Red Jacket Society: City Year Philadelphia launches the Red Jacket Society, a community of philanthropic leaders and families who are dedicated to supporting City Year’s work.


  • Leveled Literacy Interventions: City Year Philadelphia pilots the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) curriculum for grades K-8 to support students in building reading and writing skills. Through daily, intensive small-group instruction, AmeriCorps members work with students on “leveled” books and fast-paced, systematically designed lessons.


  • Celebrating 25 Years of Service: Since 1997, 3,500 AmeriCorps members have served over 6.5 million hours in more than 100 schools and community organizations in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.

City Year Philadelphia Historical School Partners

As City Year Philadelphia celebrates its 25th Anniversary, we’re looking back at our impact in schools and communities citywide. Explore our school partners from the last 25 years.* (Map legend: green = current partners; red = former partners)

*School partners to date, based on available digital records.

This page will be updated periodically throughout the year with more information. Check back soon!

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Learn more

Read our stories about City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps members, alums, staff, and partners to learn more about our work in schools supporting student success and advancing educational equity. Visit our blog

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City Year Philadelphia offers many ways for individuals like you to make a difference. Learn more about how you can help us make a powerful impact in the lives of students across Philadelphia. Support our work

Attend an event

We offer a variety of regular events throughout the year, including fundraisers, networking, volunteer service days, and more. Join us to support the service of our AmeriCorps members in Philadelphia schools. Attend an event

National Strategic Partners
National Partners