A recent Philadelphia Business Journal article discusses how a company known as General Growth Properties Inc.(GGP), which owns both Christiana and Neshaminy mall, plans to divide some of its assets between its self and a smaller company known as Spinco.

Read more: General Growth files reorganization plan – Philadelphia Business Journal

GGP plans to do this in hopes that it will bring them out of bankruptcy protection as early as October of this year. GGP is projecting that this endeavored should bring them just enough profit so that they may repay their debts in full. Both Spinco and GGP would then become publically traded companies. Some of the companies slated to invest are Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Fairholme Capital Management LLC and Pershing Square Capital Management LLC. According to the article, “Brookfield would hold 10 million shares of Spinco, at $5 per share. Fairholme and Pershing Square could also own 5 million shares apiece, also at $5 per share.”

Top executives at GGP seem to be enthusiastic about this deal. General Growth CEO Adam Metz said in a statement that, “We are extremely pleased with our success in the restructuring to date, and we look forward to continuing to work productively with all of our stakeholders to finish building the strong capital structure that will sustain GGP in the future.”

Ultimately, the future seems bright as far as GGP in concerned. Despite the financial woes it may have suffered in it’s recent past, the company seems to have developed a plan to narrowly escape debt that they are both proud of and confident in.

What does it mean to truly be involved in one’s community? Though it’s not uncommon for a men or women who has achieved success to donate the occasional large sum of money back to the community that raised them, they seldom take the time to truly improve or rectify the issues that plague the place where they grew up. What about the hordes of teens who wish to mirror the success of those who braved adversity? Wouldn’t allowing youth such as these to have a head start at success truly give back more than any mere cash donation could? Thankfully, WPFSI (West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution), a non profit financial service organization based in west Philadelphia, has done just that with its WesGold Fellows Program.

WPFSI was founded in 1997 and since then dedicated it’s self to improving the lives of West Philadelphia’s residents. It’s most notable and recent accomplishment is Park West Town Center located at 52nd and Jefferson. Park West Town Center began in its early stages of development shortly after WPFSI was founded. According to GoldenbergGroup.com, “Working with the assistance of the PIDC, WPFSI issued a Request for Proposal for a private developer to assist in the center’s development, which ultimately led to the selection of Goldenberg Group, to co-develop the site” (goldenberggroup.com, 1). After many years of negotiations, Park West Town Center had finally become a reality in 2006. This open air shopping center now generates considerable profits; a portion of which is put back into the community via workshops and programs such as WesGold Fellows.

WesGold Fellows is the creation of WPFSI and the Goldberg Group (thus the name WesGold) and is considered an arm of Park West Town Center. The program is purposed with teaching small groups of inner city high school students about the various aspects of financial management in addition to a number of other skills and subjects.

The program consists of 12 students a program coordinator and an instructor. During the run of the program students are taught lessons on topics such as personal development, financial literacy, and college planning. Each of these themes are taught one-by-one for a set period of time and are broken down into various sub topics, for example: during the time while students are being taught about college planning, they are also taught about the application process, financial aid and day-to-day college life.

During a typical week, interns at WesGold have many tasks at hand. Mondays are days of class room instruction. It is during these days when students are taught about topics, such as the ones mentioned previously, in a setting similar to that of a class room. Tuesdays are days that are similar to Mondays in it that there is some initial class room instruction. The difference is that during that instruction, students get the chance to hear the testimony of a professional whose career or field relate to the theme of that week. Wednesdays are devoted to field trips. These trips also vary depending on what theme is being taught and can be any thing from visiting a construction site to taking a tour of a local university. Thursdays are the days when students must turn in assignments as well as conduct formal presentations. During the week students are issued topics for papers as well as topics for presentations. Though the papers are written individually, the presentations are conducted and created by the collaborative effort of two WesGold interns. These presentations help sharpen the students’ public speaking, creativity and team work as they must employ all of these skills in order to successfully complete and perform the presentation.

Last but not least, Friday is pay day. As a reward, WesGold Fellows interns are paid weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly) stipends and are only required to deposit a small percentage of their checks into an IDA savings account which has been preset for them. The purpose of these accounts is to allow the students who are budding college students or business professionals to have a true head start on the road toward their aspirations. Once the student has deposited at least 500 dollars into the IDA savings account, should they need money for either start up funding for a business or college expenses, they need only to show proof, such as a receipt or invoice, and WesGold fellows will match the money that the students have already deposited in the account and write a check for the amount the students already have in the account to the university effectively, doubling the student’s money.

Near the end of the program, students have to complete two final tasks, the first of which is a community service project. The program’s instructor and coordinator sit down with the interns and plan a community service event within their community in order to raise money for a specific cause that the students and faculty can agree upon. The second task is a detailed portfolio in which students must include a number of documents such as essays written during the run of the program, resumes, print versions of their presentations, a detailed “college plan”, a business card, and the students personal mission statement.

After these tasks are completed, a graduation ceremony is conducted to commemorate the accomplishments of the students who successfully completed the program. Once each student receives their certificate of completion, a final reward called “the Stellar Student Award” is given. The Stellar Student award is given to the one student who has shown the most improvement and promise over the course of the program. Along with an additional certificate, recipients of the Stellar Student award receive an offer to work for WPFSI for an additional year after the programs completion.

Ultimately, WesGold accomplishes what few individuals or organizations have. Rather than blindly pumping funds into a community, WesGold takes it a step further and actually invests in the community’s future by giving its youth a platform for success. WesGold and its creators have truly devoted themselves to improving the place where they live and thus are always looking for ways to improve and expand themselves. It’s hard to predict what the future may hold, but as WesGold moves into teaching what is it’s fourth batch of enthusiastic youths; this program will certainly have an impact on the lives of the teens they’ve reached out to.

Work Cited:

THE GOLDENBERG GROUP – Building a Brighter Future. Web. 12 July 2010. .

An article posted on June 24th on the Philadelphia Business journal web site talks about how little the number of applicants are for the new Board of Property Assessment Appeals that is poised to replace the Bored of Revisions of Taxes(BRT) along with the Office of Property Assessment. According to the article, so far there has only been 1 applicant and as the July 12th cut off date draws ever more close, the city has been has been trying it’s best to encourage those who are interested to apply. This news comes less than 2 months after voters abolished the BRT due to alleged corrupt dealings.

The article also directs those who may be interested in the position to go to view the requirements and application at http://www.phila.gov.

Work cited:

Kostelni, Natalie. “New Phila. Agency Not Overwhelmed by Applicants.” Philadelphia News | Philadelphia Business Journal. Web. 09 July 2010. .

Tuesday June 22nd will usher in orientation day for this year’s group of WesGold Fellows interns. This ceremony will be held in the WPFSI office building at 5200 Warren street Philadelphia, PA 19139 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm

During this orientation, speakers will outline specifics on the activities the fellows will take part in as well as explain what will be expected of students, the stellar student award, “CASH FLOW”, and IDA account matching.

Parents are of course welcome to attend and refreshments will be provided as well.

This year’s batch of interns may also want to make Note that The WesGold Fellows Program will commence on the 28th of June.

Join the WesGold Fellows (past and present) in an afternoon of deals and money making.

Cash Flow

Cash Flow

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

11:00 AM to 2:00 PM

WPFSI

5200 Warren St Philadelphia, PA 19131

215-452-0100


WesGold Fellows 2009, originally uploaded by WesGold Fellows.
On September 3, 2009, West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution (WPFSI) graduated another class of future leaders. The Third Annual WesGold Fellows Graduation Ceremony took place at The Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia. The pictures are in! Thank you to Perretti Photography for taking such beautiful photos.

Student Speeches

Alexis Jenkins and Kevin Cole were selected to compose and deliver special selections at the ceremony.

…When I go to college, I will not be swooned by all of the pretty colors on the credit cards….If I want to be the next Oprah, I can; but I will need to be willing to do what Oprah did and then do it better…              -Alexis Jenkins

Kevin was an unscheduled insert of inspiration. He did not have the same preparation time and practice as Alexis did. He was excited to finish his final deliverable for the program and asked if he could read his speech moments before the graduation ceremony kicked off.

WesGold Fellows Staff

James R Burnett, Executive Director of WPFSI, Michael A Gross, Director of the WesGold Fellows and myself, Tiffany C Bentham, Coordinator, offered words of encouragement to the students. We are a part of their network now and we highly suggest to every student that they keep in contact with us. Once they graduate from the WesGold Fellows, it is up to them to continue to practice and prepare for a challenging and changing world. If we can help them in any way, we are more than glad to do so.

Past graduates Shaniqua Isaac (’07) and Ashley Handy (’07), volunteered to assist with the logistics of the evening. Ashley is currently a WPFSI employee and Shaniqua, a former employee.

Distribution of Awards

The students were honored with a certificate of accomplishment and a video presentation solidifying their dreams into the atmosphere.

Stellar Student Award

Can I start Monday?, asks Kevin
“Can I start Monday?”

Kevin Cole was the recipient of the Stellar Student Award. This is given to one Fellow who demonstrates improvement over the course of the program, verbalizes and implements the principles they were taught. In return, they are given the opportunity to continue their growth and development as a WPFSI employee.

Friends & Family

As always, friends and family members were there to show their support.

Congratulations WesGold Fellows 2009!

(From the left: kevin Cole, Alexis Jenkins, mark Walker, Sameera Sydnor, Rovell Vialva, Malcolm Lewis, Ishanteria McBride; Missing: DaShawn Starling, Andre Jones and Nancy Rai)