Over at Philadelphia Academies, Inc., the staff has a happy chore on their hands. They have to send out 80 thank-you notes to donors who've just sent about $5,000 in contributions in support of the West Philadelphia Hybrid EVX Team, whom I wrote about in my column yesterday.
The group of dogged students, teachers and mentors at West Philadelphia High School is in a heated contest with global competitors in the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE contest to design, build, market and produce an environmentally friendly car that gets 100 mpg.
West Philly made the final cut of 43 competitors, down from an original 111 entrants, besting better-known and funded contenders Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Yeah, that MIT.
The only high-school team in the contest, West Philly has been ranked by the editors of Popular Mechanics in the top ten teams likely to win the whole shebang. But the kids need between $80,000 and $100,000 to stay viable in the race (the team has already raised $300,000).
After my column ran yesterday, the money started pouring in to the Philadelphia Academies, Inc., which is handling donations to West Philly. Not just locals are getting behind The Little Team That Could. The Academies' Ilene Merlino tells me that donors hail from as far away as England, the Virgin Islands, Texas, California and Ontario.
The largest check, for $1,000, came from Indiana; the smallest, for a single dollar, from Sweden.
The response thrills the team's founder and guru, Simon Hauger.
"The energy that's been created is really neat. It's great to get $5,000, and to know that it came from so many smaller donors is just really exciting."