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Who are we?

Formed in June 2010, the West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools (WPCNS) aims to bring our vibrant community and all of its resources into our local neighborhood public schools. Anyone, regardless of parental status or age of children, is welcome. Our current focus is Henry C. Lea Elementary.

WPCNS is a diverse group. Many, but not all, of our members live or work in West Philadelphia. Many, but not all, of us are parents. Our group comprises a wide range of ethnicities, first languages, income brackets, and educational backgrounds. We all share a vision of a neighborhood strengthened by its elementary school and an elementary school strengthened by its neighborhood. We are also brought together by our core belief that public education is a social justice issue.

Our founding members have spent many hours discussing the complexities of urban education, and we will spend many more continuing these discussions to ensure that social justice remains our goal. We want to be very explicit about the fact that that is NOT the intention of WPCNS to “fix” neighborhood schools by filling them with out-of-neighborhood kids. Rather, we want kids who live in the catchments for their neighborhood schools to walk to those schools. We want their parents to walk with them, to stay and volunteer, to chat with other parents on the schoolyard and with their neighbors on the way back home or to work.

For Lea Elementary, our current focus, those kids and parents are mostly African-American and mostly earning below area-average incomes*. If WPCNS manages to achieve all our hopes and dreams for Lea, most of its families will still be African-American and will still be working and lower-middle class. More of them will be walking to school. More of them will stay after school to participate in music, art, and journalism clubs. More of them will check out books from a fully stocked and staffed library. More parents will volunteer. More neighbors will know each other. But, they will be the same kids, the same parents, the same neighbors who live in the catchment now.

We are a large group of several hundred members. Occasionally, someone’s enthusiasm will eclipse his or her sensitivity and will lead to poor word choice. Please rest assured that the Board nevertheless strives to maintain the utmost sensitivity to the complexity of our social justice mission.

Welcoming constructive conversation on these complicated issues,


– The WPCNS Board
  • Amara Rockar, President
  • Erin McLeary, Vice President
  • Molly McGlone, Secretary
  • Dell Steckel, Treasurer
  • Ancil George, At-Large Board Member



The West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools is a federally-recognized 501(c)3 organization. Donations can be made through our website by PayPal, sending a check payable to “West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools” or “WPCNS” to 5038 Catharine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143 or through the United Way Donor Choice program (Designation Code 50330). Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

*19139 Zip Code Profile