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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

St. Joe’s extends $100,000 grant to Gompers School

St. Joe’s and Gompers’ relationship goes back over 40 years. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

In an effort to build upon the rich partnership that both St. Joe’s and Samuel Gompers School have cultivated over the years, St. Joe’s has secured a $100,000 grant to help bolster the sports and science programs at Gompers, according to a press release from the university. 

Gompers is a designated community school, which means they don’t only educate their students, but they also serve the surrounding community. The school plans to use the grant to support the school and the larger Wynnewood community, according to Rennie Parker, the community school coordinator at Gompers. 

“We plan to open up our gates to allow the local kids to play basketball in our school yard,” Parker said. “Having physical activity being involved throughout the community, as well as in our school, is a huge plus. It’s definitely going to help kids fight obesity and help staff fight obesity. That’s going to be a definite health benefit for everyone.”

In addition to sports equipment, the grant will be used to help purchase facility upgrades, science equipment and additional playground space for students. It will also be used to hire a St. Joe’s graduate assistant who will work with the Gompers staff to develop more structured, nonacademic programs that are based on health and wellness, according to the press release.

Aimee LaPointe Terosky, Ed.D., associate professor of educational leadership, who has been instrumental in helping to coordinate St. Joe’s working partnership with Gompers for the past four years, said the initiative will help students at Gompers stay physically fit and in good social well-being, which will have long lasting effects on their success.

“Studies show that if kids are not feeling good in their bodies, or mental health wise, then they won’t be as successful academically,” Terosky said. “If you don’t take the whole child into account, then you’re not going to be as successful as if you address all areas of the whole being.”

According to Director of Athletics Jill Bodensteiner, J.D., the money for this grant was provided by Philadelphia Women’s Basketball 2000, a nonprofit organization originally set up to host the 2000 NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship in Philadelphia.

Following the recent dissolvement of the organization, the remaining funds were  intended to be used to support youth in Philadelphia. Through former Director of Athletics Don DiJulia, who had connections with the organization, Bodensteiner was able to secure the grant and direct it towards Gompers.

“The group was formed in conjunction with some of the Division I schools in Philadelphia to bring the women’s basketball Final Four to [the city],” Bodensteiner said. “At some point, the decision was made to go dissolve the group. I’m really proud of the folks in Philadelphia who put this together and really tried to showcase women’s basketball.”

Terosky said this partnership and grant won’t only benefit the students at Gompers, but those at St. Joe’s as well.

“One of the best parts about the St. Joseph’s-Gompers relationship is that it’s truly reciprocal,” Terosky said. “This is going to provide a lot of opportunities for our students to apply theory to practice.”

Since the initiative focuses on fitness, athletics and physical activity, Bodensteiner said that student-athletes can become more involved in the Gompers community.

“I envision an opportunity to have [student-athletes] over helping Gompers staff during recess or at after school programs,” Bodensteiner said. “Our teams and student-athletes are itching to get out in the community and I think they can play a lot of different roles with the kids.”

Parker highlighted the importance of this relationship and how many students at Gompers can look up to the St. Joe’s student-athletes. According to Parker, he sees this as an opportunity for student-athletes to be mentors and role models for students.

“Big shoutout to Jill [Bodensteiner] for continuing to allow us to use the field and wanting the basketball teams or the softball team to come show the kids what college sports are like or what teamwork is like,” Parker said.

Parker said updating the facilities will allow for increased opportunities for community engagement, aligning with the mission of Gompers.

“We’re finally coming into this new existence of new classrooms and new paint jobs. We’re finally getting in a heating and cooling system within Gompers,” Parker said. “We’ll be able to extend our evenings as well as be able to have more after-school programs and of course, more summer programming as well.”

While the project and curriculum are still in the early stages of planning, as St. Joe’s and Gompers continue to cooperate with the city of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 guidelines and back-to-school plans, it is clear that both the university and Gompers are excited for the opportunities ahead.

“The opportunity to expand the minds of the kids at Gompers, and have a wellness talk, or a mindfulness and nutrition talk, or a walking club, or getting our dancers over there, I think there are so many opportunities,” Bodensteiner said. “We want to get them moving and prepare them for long and healthy lives, so we’re really excited.”


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