While I’ve never been on a pair of skates (not a day in my 70 years!), I must say I’m impressed with what skating — particularly ice hockey — has done for the lives of a bunch of underserved kids from the inner cities in Philadelphia.
I’m talking about a program called Snider Hockey, which is run by the nonprofit Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Ed is chairman of Comcast Spectacor and the Philadelphia Flyers. He launched the program years ago with the Philadelphia School District to teach hockey as part of physical education. Before long Ed realized it was much more than hockey these kids were learning, so his foundation created a five-day-a-week after school program that also provides tutors for kids who need academic help.
About 3,000 kids in Philadelphia communities are currently served through this program and the data that’s been collected indicates that most of the students enrolled increased their school attendance and bolstered their grades. Ninety-six percent of the students in Snider’s After School Excellence Program are on track for on-time high school graduation, which is remarkable when compared to the epidemic dropout rate that now exceeds 50 percent in Philadelphia’s public school systems.
This past winter my team from the Give Something Back Foundation (GSBF) and I headed over to one of Snider Hockey’s skating rinks in Philadelphia to get a glimpse of what goes on at the facility, particularly after the skates come off. There’s a lot of support — emotional, social as well as academic — that aligns with our mission at GSBF. And this curriculum comes at no cost to city residents.
At the rink we met with some stellar student athletes who have gone on to college as a result of their experiences at Snider Hockey. For GSBF, it was clear this well-oiled organization would make a great partner.
During Snider Hockey Night on March 3, when the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center, Snider Hockey and GSBF announced we would join forces and pledge $3 million to send qualified Snider Hockey high school graduates to college for free.
Our new program, Goals and Assists, will provide mentoring and support for Snider Hockey student athletes during high school and through the college application process. Qualified students will be provided with a scholarship to one of Goals and Assist’s post-secondary partner institutions, which will include four-year colleges and universities, as well as community colleges and trade schools in Pennsylvania. Mentoring and support will continue during the students’ post-secondary years and as graduates enter the workforce.
I think it’s fair to say that everyone wins with our new partnership with Snider Hockey. I’m excited about the possibilities — but don’t expect to see me in a pair of ice skates anytime soon!