Philadelphia has many emergency response teams, but until recently, pets weren’t part of that response. Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, in partnership with the Red Cross, provides emergency transportation, shelter, long-term foster care and emergency, follow-up and ongoing veterinarian care to foster and rescue pets. The program is spearheaded by Philadelphia firefighter and Red Cross emergency responder Jennifer Leary and began service on July 25, 2011. Since then, Red Paw has responded to nearly 200 calls in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks and Chester Counties.
Practitioners in the public sector and funding communities often note the proliferation of new nonprofit organizations. Certainly, formally establishing a 501(c)(3) organization is often an appropriate step to addressing a service need or gap within our social system. But this is not the only option available to start-up projects, nor is it always the best or most appropriate course. Indeed, for those initiatives that truly seek to disrupt the current system and innovate the way services are delivered, the intense and often burdensome administrative demands associated with establishing a nonprofit can be prohibitive to achieving the mission and goals of the program or project. In other cases, the innovation in question might require urgency and flexibility on the front end that would be hampered by the often lengthy designation process. In still other cases, project or program leaders may need additional support, coaching and training before they are ready to make it on their own. In consideration of these possibilities, fiscal sponsorship can be an appropriate and ideal alternative to the wholesale creation of a new 501(c)(3) entity.
The sporting world at its best represents values to strive for—community, teamwork, commitment, sacrifice and self-discovery. The climate toward LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) inclusion in sports has been hostile or indifferent. The general concern has been that people who choose to share their entire selves with their teams will be met with hostility, thereby creating unsafe spaces for LGBT athletes to fully embrace the athletic experience. From collegiate to sponsorships, the exclusionary environment has led to outright hostility. From 1980 to 2007, Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland kicked anyone off the team if she suspected she was a lesbian. Despite denying being a lesbian in 1981, Billie Jean King, professional tennis player, lost all commercial sponsorships when an ex-partner sued her. Based on these cases, any LGBT athlete who sought to feel wholly part of the team would surely have been greeted with animosity.
At a time when 40% of Philadelphia public high school students are struggling to find their way to graduation (Socolar 2012), an innovative approach to preparing these youth to face any obstacles they may encounter is not only appreciated, it’s needed.