Team, Amir Johnson Celebrate Black History Month With The Kids Can! Service Learning Challenge

“What are you doing for others?” This was the famous question asked by the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

At the Philadelphia 76ers’ Kids Can! Service Learning Challenge, presented by PECO, students from Harambee Institute of Science & Technology Charter School and Samuel Gompers School both shared exactly what they are doing to answer this question. The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, as well as the offices of Education and Grants assisted in the development of the Challenge’s concept.

To celebrate Black History Month, the 76ers and PECO challenged the students from the participating schools to honor Dr. King’s legacy by completing a service project that addressed a need within each of their communities. On Feb. 11, the students were invited to the African American Museum in Philadelphia, to share what they had accomplished through their collaborative efforts.

Following an exciting performance by the 76ers Dunk Squad, presented by Dunkin’ Donuts, both groups of students had the opportunity to present their projects in front of a panel of esteemed judges. Led by 76er Amir Johnson, the panel also included Vice President of Communications for PECO Doug Oliver, 76ers Youth Ambassador and Founder of Aniyah’s Mission Aniyah Ayres, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Engagement for Women Jovida Hill, Executive Assistant for the Office of Governor Tom Wolf Brenda Rios, and President of the African American Chamber of Commerce for PA, NJ and DE Michael Banks.

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The first group to present were the students from Harambee Institute of Science & Technology Charter School. In efforts to support the National Coalition for the Homeless, these students presented for the panel of judges on their efforts to help collect food and warm clothing for those most at-risk.

After the presentation by the students from Harambee was finished, it was time for the students from Samuel Gompers to take the stage and share their project. In support of Project HOME, this group of students sought to share with those impacted by homelessness that they are not alone, and that their situation will get better. To do this, they created care packages that included everyday necessities, and hosted a school-wide clothing drive, called Hoodies For Homeless.

While the scores from each of the panel’s judges were being tabulated, all of the participating students joined together for a private tour of the African American Museum. When they returned to the museum’s auditorium, they all took to their seats to anxiously await the judges’ results.

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Each of the two projects were separated by the narrowest of margins. But in the end, it was the students from Harambee Institute of Science & Technology Charter School who were crowned champions of the Kids Can! Service Learning Challenge. While the trophy the students from Harambee received read “champions,” each of the participating students left winners as they all answered this famous question and did their part to carry on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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