We are high school students, focused on reducing child poverty in Pennsylvania and around the country by mobilizing other high school students to advocate for policy change and provide fresh, healthy food to families in need.
A few years ago, a girl had started a karate program for the kids which was now thriving. The entire volunteer force of the organization was over 75% teenagers who had been inspired to do good in their community.
A whole new world opened up to me during my research at Drexel University's Center for Hunger-free Communities. I really began understanding the complexities and interdependencies that drove poverty. I started to see how policy change in very specific areas could have large impact over time -- and I started to understand that we as high school students could have a voice in how that policy is shaped.
I learned a lot about how to effectively combat poverty from my research and volunteer experience. Most notably, however, I understood the impact we can have on our community, even as high school students. This is why inspiring young people and giving them the tools to make their mark is one of the central pillars of Penn Harvest.
At Penn Harvest, we have built key programs to get at some of the root causes of child poverty, and we have put together toolkits that high school students can use to address this challenge. The programs include:
Advocate for Change (volunteer virtually) - educate our communities about the real desperation that folks just down the street are facing; influence our elected officials to make changes through their constituencies using facts and data.
Feed Hungry Kids - work with farmers and businesses to acquire and rescue fresh produce and non-perishable items; distribute the food each week to our network that ultimately gets it to families that need it most.
I hope you will join us on this path, and I look forward to meeting you soon.
Nikhil Chakraborty (Nick)
Founder and Executive Director, Penn Harvest
Hello everyone and welcome to Penn Harvest! We are helping to mobilize our high-school peers to reduce, and ultimately end, child poverty in the U.S. The opportunity is out there -- other countries like England have made major progress, and we can too.
Why focus on high school students? The answer is, that through my service experience, I have learned that teenagers are capable of doing anything. Let me tell you a bit about my experience and show you what I mean.
I am currently a senior at the Haverford School near Philadelphia, but I have worked with several organizations up and down the east coast to address poverty and its impact on kids . In my freshman year, I got involved with Robin Hood, a charity that works to fight poverty in New York City.
I got a chance to spend time in some of NYC's poorest neighborhoods, and saw first-hand how parents struggled to make ends meet and children went hungry -- all in one of the richest cities in the world. I raised $10,000 in funds that year using social media to help Robin Hood combat poverty.
The following year, I worked with Aslan Youth, tutoring children living in poverty and helping motivate them to stay in school. As I began my work there, I could see the mark that a teenager could leave on an organization.