Friday, July 31, 2015

Donations pour in for West Philly Car Kids

Readers get behind The Little After School Team That Could

Donations pour in for West Philly Car Kids


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."

To learn how to support the team, go to go to And if you missed Daily News videopgrapher Michelle Tranquilli's piece on these amazing kids, check it out here.



Daily News Columnist
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter