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We have an amazing group of Fellows joining the NLC family this year, and we’re excited to learn more about the issues closest to them and why they love calling Philly “home."
What are you most looking forward to when it comes to the NLC Institute?
Antonio: Opportunity; becoming a better leader; learning about ways I can influence the trajectory of our city on a broader level; contributing to the growth of an energized group of progressives; being a thought leader.
What are the issues closest to your heart?
Antonio: Equitable Development - My family sacrificed and worked hard so that I can have every opportunity for success. Achieving the American Dream is everybody's dream but seems to be made more accessible to certain people. A huge issue facing Philadelphia neighborhoods today and most major cities today is equitable development.
High Quality Education - As a former educator, this issue is very close to my heart. Education literally has the power to transform lives. There is a direct correlation between level of educational attainment and economic stability. Investing in education is investing in our future. It's the only commodity that once gained, cannot be lost. We need to find ways to ensure that ALL students and families have access to high quality education no matter what zip code they live in.
Community Cohesion - Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods. I compare a neighborhood to being like a band or an orchestra. It's comprised of many players, but together they create some kind of sound. Just like music, when people work in harmony the song is going to sound better. Every neighborhood is going to have it's own distinct flavor; it doesn't matter what genre of music is produced. The players just have to be in harmony with one another. Neighborhoods are the fabric of our city and it is imperative that we intentionally support ways of increasing community cohesion. When neighbors communicate effectively, work together, embrace differences, and find common ground, a supportive environment is fostered.
Describe your ideal “Philly day.”
Antonio: If the stars aligned and we had the day off from work that also happened to be a First Friday AND I found some money in my pocket, I would:
What do you love most about Philly?
Antonio: I find grit to be a common characteristic throughout Philadelphia. Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor at UPenn has been conducting extensive research studying the correlation between the personality trait of grit and success. It's something I've seen across the city my whole life. From the single mom who raises her 4 kids while working full time and going to school chipping away at her college degree… to a young man who works two jobs and volunteers while supporting his mom… to the girl who moved here from another country, learned English in a year, and got a full ride to college.... and everywhere in between. Philly has an underdog feel to it. In a city where a quarter of the population lives in poverty, sometimes it feels like we're so far behind that there's no hope. But grit is about that drive, that hunger, that relentless pursuit of achievement no matter what may be stacked against you. If there's something that Philly is known for, it's that we are a city that never stops fighting. My father always told me that "You've gotta turn negatives to positives." One thing I know is that we will never stop fighting and it's that grit that will ensure our success.
Learn more about Antonio’s community work, and meet the rest of our 2016 Fellows here.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on our 2016 Fellows Fundraiser, where you can meet Antonio and the rest of our Fellows in-person.
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