In 1989, the Reverend Herbert H. Lusk, II, a former Philadelphia Eagle's football player, joined with several other Eagles and community residents to form People for People (PFP). The organization's goal is to bring people together to break the cycle of crime, hopelessness and despair associated with inner-city poverty.
Rev. Lusk left the professional sports arena 17 years ago to study for the gospel ministry. After finishing college and earning his master's degree in 1981, he became the pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in an impoverished area of North Philadelphia.
While most of PFP's activities are geared toward low-income children and young people who are at high risk of dropping out of school and of being influenced by the wrong types of role models, adult services are also offered. The four major programs under the banner of PFP: a job training program, an after-school homework assistance program, a Saturday youth enrichment program and a Friday night enrichment program.
PFP's Job Training Program trains welfare recipients, enabling them to move from welfare to the job market. Enrollees receive 24 weeks of classroom instruction, hands-on computer lab practice and employment/personal development sessions. Participants are involved in internships, job clubs, and supportive services development, followed by an intensive job search. Through the years more than 80 people have graduated from the job training program. Approximately 75% of the program's participants have received full-time jobs. This program is funded by the Private Industry Council and the Ben Franklin Technology Center.
PFP's After-School Homework Assistance Program, operated by two staff members and twelve volunteers, focuses on first through eighth grade students. Neighborhood school principals choose the students based on need. Vans bring students from area schools to the PFP building, located adjacent to the church. Volunteers provide mentoring and tutoring in efforts to improve the children's grades, computer skills, and self-esteem. Participants are served a hot meal and are then escorted home. Annually, the program works with 70 children and there is always a list of children waiting to receive the services.
The 4,000 square-foot recreation room provides a safe place for the young people of the Friday Night and Saturday Youth Enrichment Program and other young people from the community to play. The building houses ping-pong tables, video games, computers and other recreational games. The two programs usually serve approximately 150 children each weekend.
People for People has recently received a Joli Grant, provided by the federal government, in the amount of $500,000 to run a three year program focused on self-empowerment. Through the program 60 individuals will be trained in all facets of running a manufacturing company. At the end of the three years, the individuals will be owner/operators of the manufacturing company.