Changing of the Guard, PAL Officer Ernie Rehr Retires

Few people in this world spend their working lifetime committed to one single institution. For Officer Ernie Rehr, a 35 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police force there was rarely any doubt. Once Ernie was selected as the Rizzo PAL Center Officer in 1990 he quickly became a part of the fabric of the surrounding communities of Port Richmond, Fishtown, and Kensington. With a big smile and an even larger heart, Ernie played a vital role on coaching multiple generations of boys and girls. As a mentor to many and a role model to all, his service over the years is appreciated on a level words can not do justice.     

Over the decades Ernie fostered a wide range of youth development programs out of the Rizzo Center: Perhaps most notably the PAL Wrestling Club. From 1990 to 2009, this program was the only youth wrestling program that operated within the city limits that did not charge participants a registration fee. Eliminating the cost-barrier of entry introduced thousand of youth that would never have been accessible otherwise. Without any prior experience in the sport Ernie embraced the effort of coach Ed Schneider. Unbeknownst to them at the time they laid the groundwork to ensure a legacy was created. In 2009 Beat the Streets partnered with PAL as the leader in their respective space to expand wrestling throughout Philadelphia. 

Ernie’s official retirement is scheduled for Friday November 7th, 2019. Please join us in congratulating Ernie on a tremendously successful career. Ernie plans to enjoy retirement spending time with his loving wife Robin, and spoiling his beautiful grandchildren.

On behalf of the BTSP Board of Directors and Executive Staff we would like to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to Officer Ernie for his decades worth of service.          

Felicia Wong Joins BTSP

Beat the Streets Press Release – University of Penn Practicum Partnership

Beat the Streets Philadelphia (BTSP) is pleased to welcome Felicia Wong as a part-time consultant from the University of Pennsylvania’s Leadership Practicum through the School of Social Policy & Practice. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management (NPL), and hopes to share the skills and knowledge from the program with the people and communities in need of those resources. At BTSP, Felicia will develop fundraising strategies and offer input on diversity initiatives, putting classroom theory to practice in service of the organization.

This is the first year BTSP has hosted an NPL Practicum consultant, though partnering with Penn and universities in Philadelphia at large is not novel to the organization; BTSP believes in the power of collective impact and seeks to continually deepen relationships with others invested in serving Philadelphia and its surrounding populations. Through this new partnership with NPL, BTSP continues to grow and learn with Penn students and alumna hearkening back to the foundations laid by Penn graduates in 2009.

“Stepping into Beat the Streets’ office, I immediately knew I was in a space where students are truly valued and supported, and I can’t wait to serve with and alongside the BTSP team.”

-Felicia Wong

Though new to Philadelphia and the world of wrestling, Felicia is familiar with the core values of Grit, Compassion, Service, and Team which are central to BTSP’s mission. Having grown up with military communities in Stuttgart, Germany and the Filipino American community in Virginia Beach, VA, she carries with her a global understanding of how community support shapes individuals. Prior to BTSP, Felicia graduated from the College of William & Mary then worked for two years in Washington, DC as the Programs Manager at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL), where she worked to connect Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students with careers in public service. In the same vein, she hopes to continue honing her advocacy and leadership skills at Penn and BTSP.

Grant to Fund Collective Impact

Beat the Streets Philadelphia in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Athletic League have been awarded a transformative grant by Families Behind the Badge Children’s Foundation!

The funds will be used to renovate a wrestling room for a new program at the Southwest PAL center while also replacing mats at the existing program at the Rizzo Pal center. The gift will also cover the operating costs for the first year of wrestling at Southwest PAL.

Rizzo PAL Wrestling Club coached by Ed Schneider has played a key role developed some of the very best wrestlers over the past three decades. PIAA State place winners, Joey Galasso (Father Judge), Miles Lee (South Philadelphia), Jameel Coles (Northeast) and Angel Garcia (MBA) all spent countless hours getting better at Rizzo PAL. In addition to producing talented wrestlers, the PAL wrestling program has helped hundreds of other young men and women become productive members of society, including Beat the Streets executive director, James Mangan.

This generous gift will position Beat the Streets Philadelphia to continue providing programming that alters life’s trajectory for the youth at the Rizzo and Southwest PAL centers for another generation. On behalf of the entire BTSP organization, we would like to thank Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan, Founder Mark O’Connor as well as the entire Leadership team of Families Behind the Badge Children’s Foundation for entrusting us in delivering on our aligned mission of supporting Philadelphia youth.

Our Partner Organizations Missions

The Families Behind the Badge Children’s Foundation (FBBCF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to improving the lives of children in the Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey area. We do this in three ways: by supporting the families of first responders who are killed or severely injured in the line of duty, by improving relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and by encouraging our children through education and recreation.

PAL is “Cops Helping Kids.”  We aspire to be the premier youth-serving organization in the city, by reducing crime, promoting character development, and improving educational outcomes. We do this by having Philadelphia Police Officers, supported by civilians, offer sports and other programs to youth in PAL centers in some of the city’s highest crime and lowest income neighborhoods. PAL Centers are safe havens, offering a variety of programs and other events to attract, engage, and develop an active membership base of more than 10,000 Philadelphia youth.

Opportunities to get involved as a coach, a mentor, or a donor exist right now. If you would like to learn more about any of those please contact us.

Organizations Alike

Beat The Streets Philadelphia (BTSP) pairs up with other great organizations, such as Revolution Foods, Child Care Resources, and the United States Marine Corps (USMC), to positively alter life’s trajectory. Through our partnership with the USMC, we are teaching kids leadership, grit, and team values with support from the marines. The camp takes place each year in March designed for students enrolled in high school. Technique is taught by various coaches and marines with conditioning to wrap things up. Staff sergeant and officer selection recruiter Johnathan Morris had this to say about the participants, “When they’re taking these kids and they’re developing for them a drive and a want to be successful. It resonates with me as a United States marine because the battles that they face on the wrestling mat are similar to the personal battles that we face at boot camp.” The battles that wrestlers face on the mat foster foundational values, such as integrity, determination, and discipline, that they can continue to build on throughout their lives.

“With the rigor of athletic development it’s a big deal for the marines to be involved with programs in the city like BTS” – Wayne Thurman, Executive Director, USMC Leadership Academy

We are thankful to have the marines partner with us to help continue our mission of positively altering life’s trajectory. Partnerships like this allow the staff here at BTSP to make such an immense impact on the surrounding athletes in Philadelphia. To show kids there is more out there in the world than what they see in their respective neighborhoods.

Eat Better, Live Better, Perform Better

Beat the Streets Philadelphia (BTSP) has always operated under the belief that our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. In that, working collectively with positive community partners to help benefit the youth of Philadelphia is the most effective method for accomplishing our mission.

A great example of this stems from the combined efforts of Beat the Streets Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Regional Training Center (PRTC), The University of Pennsylvania, & Drexel University, commonly referred to as the Philadelphia Wrestling Ecosystem. Our collective efforts to grow Philadelphia wrestling have resulted in both individual successes and collective ones. Specific to BTSP, these partnerships have allowed the organization to grow from just three youth programs in 2009, to thirty!

“Our staff, wrestlers, and alumni believe wholeheartedly in BTSP’s mission of Positively Altering Life’s Trajectory for the thousands of kids and families that BTSP serves, and we stand committed in all ways to contribute to the effort” – Roger Reina, UPenn Head Wrestling Coach

Building on this belief, we are proud to officially announce working alongside Revolution Foods and Child Care Resources (CCR) to address the needs of BTSP student athletes in a more complete way. Revolution Foods is a company who doesn’t just deliver healthy meal choices to schools and other organizations all over the country, it also educates the youth on making healthier nutritional choices. With the use of surveys and cooking demonstrations their goal is to get kids excited about eating healthy. Unfortunately throughout Philadelphia, kids often lack access to proper nutrition and knowledge about healthy eating choices. Many local super markets don’t offer necessary healthy options, and those that do are understandably expensive. There are even some areas without access to grocery stores, often referred to as “food deserts,” existing throughout Philadelphia. Recently, a Philadelphia non-profit organization called The Food Trust has been working hard to make grocery stores accessible for those residing in food deserts. The Food Trust claims that, “For more than 40 years, residents of North Philadelphia’s East Germantown neighborhood had no reasonable place to buy healthy, affordable food. The nearest grocery store was a 20-minute bus ride away.” For many residents in Philadelphia, that trip is costly to their budget and walking to and from the store with grocery bags is not much of an option. 

An article published on Generocity’s website outlines the statistic that “1 in 5 Philadelphians suffer from food insecurity.” Food insecurity is defined as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. We know that as a student-athlete it is important to get the proper nutrition needed to perform at the highest level. By providing kids with healthier meal choices, they are able to power through their day with higher rates of academic and athletic success. With the help of Revolution Foods, BTSP was able to provide roughly 24,000 snacks and 16,000 nutritious meals for our student-athletes through our Mentoring Center & Belmont Charter school program.

“Revolution Foods is thrilled to be working with Beat the Streets and Child Care Resources, to bring fresh, healthy meals to their athletes. As a fellow mission driven organization, we were so inspired by the work Beat the Streets is doing in the Philadelphia Community. They challenge their athletes to improve both mentally, through their tutoring, and physically on the mat. To ensure these athletes have the proper fuel to take on these challenges, we are working with CCR to provide each athlete with a free meal and snack daily. ” – Marcy Cuneo, Revolution Food

We are certainly proud of our emerging relationship with Revolution Foods, to help us better serve our student-athletes through our Mentoring Center. Overall, we’re very grateful for the strong community partners we have had the opportunity to work alongside. As we continue to grow, we look forward to both strengthening these relationships & creating new ones as we continue Positively Alter Life’s Trajectory and serve our kids in the best way possible!

In addition to relying on powerful partnerships, BTSP also relies heavily on support from donors. If you’re interested in supporting our efforts of ‘Positively Altering Life’s Trajectory’ please visit our donation page.
If you’d like to consider contributing to our cause in other ways, please also consider giving your time as a mentor or coach!