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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha Supports Philadelphia’s Latino Community for More Than 50 Years

educating-myself | Read Time: 3 minutes

By Kyle Babcock | Published: September 2021


Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) began to plant roots in North Philadelphia more than 50 years ago when a group of Puerto Rican social activists sought to energize the community and help bring its fair share of resources to it.

From its beginnings in 1970, APM has blossomed into a nationally recognized health, human services and community development nonprofit with 13 sites throughout North Philadelphia offering a variety of services and programs to the community in both Spanish and English.

“Before APM started, basic social services were largely unavailable to Philadelphia’s Latino residents,” said Nilda I. Ruiz, APM’s President and CEO. “Thanks to the hard work of many, we’ve continued to grow and expand our services through the years to address those gaps.”

APM supports the community through a variety of avenues, such as its Community Umbrella Agency and Pradera Corporation, which provide foster care, adoption services and supportive programming; early childhood education services, including before/after care, as well as head start and Pre-K schooling for children who are at risk of school failure due to financial issues, linguistic or special needs.

The organization works hand-in-hand with community members to build dynamic neighborhoods through programs on housing counseling, its Sustainable Communities Initiative, and its Financial Opportunity Center to address wealth creation, economic development, education, health and the environment.

APM also provides a number of health services, including individual, family and group therapy, psychiatric evaluations and interventions, medication monitoring, couples counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, as well as long-term help to those experiencing homelessness.

“APM collaborates closely with the community and support from organizations like WSFS helps make the depth of our programs possible,” said Ruiz. “WSFS has played a critical role in supporting projects such as our Anti-Displacement Campaign and the relaunch of our Food Buying Club.”

The organization’s Anti-Displacement Campaign is an art campaign shining a light on neighborhood gentrification and resident displacement, which culminated with a community parade where housing resources, window posters and play packs for children were distributed to more than 300 homes.

The Food Buying Club – a program designed by the community to bring in fresh produce at an affordable price by purchasing in bulk from wholesale vendors – began as a pilot in 2014. Through collaboration with WSFS, APM applied for a Neighborhood Assistance Program grant and has worked with a group of community advisory council members and others to devise sustainable operating procedures, design a relaunch roadmap, and integrate food justice values, with plans to relaunch the initiative this fall.

“WSFS is proud to support APM’s work, which is positively impacting members of Philadelphia’s Latino community through a variety of comprehensive programs and services,” said Vernita Dorsey, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Strategy, WSFS Bank. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with APM to provide these vital services to the community.”

“2020 marked an important anniversary for APM – 50 years of providing high-quality, culturally competent services to tens of thousands of Philadelphians each year,” said Ruiz. “Though the pandemic thwarted some of APM’s 50th anniversary celebration plans, with the help, support and generosity of partners such as WSFS, we were able to continue providing high-quality programming.”

About the Author – Kyle Babcock
Kyle Babcock is Integrated Communications Strategist at WSFS Bank. He has more than eight years of experience in product and professional services marketing, communications and advertising.


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