By Dan Schupsky, Soak It Up Adoption Coordinator

We’re looking for new organizations who can join our small but mighty Soak It Up Adoption roster, ideally in January 2020. This team of dedicated groups currently consists of 14 organizations receiving annual mini-grants to clean and monitor our Green City, Clean Waters green stormwater infrastructure sites and engage with residents living nearby.

In 2019, Adoption partners collected an impressive 38,000+ pounds of trash from more than 100 sites during weekly visits that employed 51 Philly residents and engaged 5,300+ neighbors.

Collectively, they used nearly $70,000 to purchase materials and supplies and hire people to ‘be the change’ they want to see in their neighborhoods.

If you think this sounds like something your local civic or nonprofit would like to get involved with, check out the Soak It Up site for more info about eligibility requirements or contact program manager Dan Schupsky.

Need more convincing? Here are some of the top reasons (in no particular order!) to consider joining Soak It Up Adoption (SIUA) from the people doing good in their communities right now:

No. 1, Presented by APM for Everyone:

A Teaching Moment

“You get to enlighten people and educate them.” Leon Sanford, with APM for Everyone

‘Nuff said! APM has been with us since 2017 and embraces a green leadership role in North Philadelphia. Check out Leon's cameo in this video:

No. 2, Presented by Centennial Parkside CDC:

Do it for the kids!

Centennial Parkside CDC hired two local residents with SIUA grant funds to help keep the nearly half-mile-long Parkside Avenue rain gardens clean and green. They are inspiring the next generation, as you can see by this little feminist who is already doing her part:

Yahara Spahr, 5, stands in a rain garden that the Centenial Parkside CDC helps care for. Her shirt says 'Little Feminist'.

Yahara Spahr may be little, but her family helps care for local rain gardens in a big way thanks to an SIUA grant for the Centennial Parkside CDC.

Centennial Parkside CDC will be well-positioned to adopt more GSI in the future, as there are more green tools coming to their area within the next year.

No. 3, Presented by Southwest Community Development Corp:

More Green, Less Litter

photo of a group from Southwest Community Development Corporation standing by one of the rain gardens they help maintain

One of our most ambitious partners, the Southwest CDC is the proud adopter of 17 (!!!) green stormwater tools…and counting!

In addition, they're a founding supporter of the Drinking Philly Tap ambassador program, one of two groups to launch the Community Cans initiative, and an integral service provider for residents in the Southwest. As an Adoption partner, they are PWD's frontline in reporting infrastructure issues in that part of the city, and an unsung hero in the fight against litter and for cleaner waterways.

No. 4. Presented by The NorthEast Treatment Center:

The Healing Power of Doing Good

One of the first Adoption partners, the NorthEast Treatment Center's story is one of self-improvement through environmental protection. While volunteering at the NET Center, the first Adoption manager here started cleaning the six rain gardens along Eadom Street for free.

John is a smiling, tattooed gentlman seen leaning on a Soak It Up Adoption info sign in one of the Eadom Street rain gardens, wearing a t-shirt that features the Adoption Program 'crest', two different garden-gloved hands coming together to grasp a rake, encircled by leaves and raindrops, and holding a trash grabber

John is paid using a Soak It Up Grant, and helps keep rain gardens along Eadom Street green and clean.

Slowly, patients seeking to better their life began to notice and pitch in, and a powerful connection to the plants began. The NET Center took notice, hired John (above), and applied to be an Adoption partner. We thank them for their service to the community, and to the local waterways.

No. 5, Presented by NKCDC:

Growing Together

“Adoption grants help keep us connected to the space and neighbors by supporting community engagement for years to come.” – Andrew Goodman, NKCDC Community Engagement Director

New Kensington Community Development Corp. is entering its seventh year as an Adoption partner, making our partnership with them nearly as old as the Green City, Clean Waters program itself.

And they've worked with us for much longer than that to bring green stormwater infrastructure to the neighborhoods we serve.

“Creating and maintaining these spaces is crucial to the long-term sustainable future of Philadelphia’s communities. On top of protecting our waterways from sewer overflows and beautifying our streets, these green tools can also catalyze even larger public space transformations, as it did at Shissler Rec Center in Fishtown,” says Goodman.

Check out the Big Green Block digital tour:

Find Green Tools That Need Your TLC in 2020

In addition to being a part of the Adoption program, these organizations also get a first-hand seat at the table for events like Green City, Clean Waters Advisory Council meetings and other important channels of communication that help us ensure we’re meeting community needs.

It is critical for our engineers, planners and maintenance specialists to hear from these partners about what is really happening out in the city day-to-day, and equally important for Adoption partners to feel a connection to the leadership at a rate-driven utility like ours.

So, what do you think? Ready to learn more? Get ready for 2020 here!

Can your group Soak It Up?

If you are a member of your local civic group or another organization interested in becoming a Soak It Up partner, follow the steps below.

  1. First, go to the Big Green Map and type in your address.
  2. Look for areas covered by the green lines. Adoption partners take care of what is listed as “Green Stormwater Infrastructure – Public Projects on Streets,” seen here at the bottom of the map's legend.
  3. If you see areas with the green line, click on them and look at the box that pops up. You are looking for projects listed as “Constructed”:
  4. If it looks like you have green tools in your area that could use Soak It Up Adoption, we want to hear from you!

Take the Next Step:

Check out the frequently asked questions, program requirements, and application forms on the Soak It Up site to learn more and apply!
Still not sure if you have GSI that can be adopted?
Contact Soak It Up to find out!