Ms. Dawn Wilkerson and A New Dawn Inc.

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Interview Credit: Isabella Ntigbu, 2023-2024 Penn Medicine Center for Health Justice Medical Student Fellow/University of Pennsylvania Medical Student

Ms. Dawn Wilkerson, a dedicated mother of two, serves as the president of the Mill Creek Advisory Board, a block captain, an employee at Philadelphia Family Court, and is the esteemed founder of A New Dawn Incorporated. This grassroots, community-centric program, situated in the Mill Creek-Parkside area of West Philadelphia, is committed to diminishing community violence involving both youth and adults. A New Dawn Inc. fortifies the community by providing crucial information, education, and nurturing neighborhood engagement. The program also focuses on empowering youth, helping them to manage stress and trauma through mentorship, teaching, and hands-on activities such as maintaining gardens, greenhouses, and cultivating fruits and vegetables. The overarching mission of A New Dawn Inc. is to foster the rehabilitation and empowerment of young people, encouraging them to contribute to public safety and advocate for the preservation of their neighborhoods.

Those who are interested in the work of A New Dawn Inc. can note their recent completion of an inaugural eight-week hydroponics course at Martha Washington Academics Plus School in December 2023, made possible with support from the Ace Community Council Afterschool program. The organization recently just launched their second cohort this past February. This is currently held at Aspen Farms, located at the intersection of 49th and Aspen Streets. The organization has already reached significant milestones, notably the initiation of their “I Farm” program in January 2024. This four-week endeavor, hosted at Aspen Farms, educates youth and their families about sustainable farming practices, hydroponics, nutrition, and SAT preparation, and includes a paid stipend upon completion. From March to April 2024, participating youth will receive a stipend to construct garden beds at Aspen Farms, while also exploring hydroponics, farming, and yoga. In a step towards sustainability, the organization plans to replace their gas-powered generator with a solar-powered alternative to minimize their carbon footprint. The upcoming summer holds promise with programs centered around farming, drones, and artificial intelligence, alongside anticipated excursions to the Helicopter Museum and a drone-utilizing worksite.

Ms. Dawn is a firm advocate for the Deeply Rooted program, recognizing its crucial role in the Mill Creek community. She states, “the [Community Green] grant strengthens the food insecurity in our community. The grant has also allowed us to diversify the crops by planting rice, luffa, and chrysanthemum. We were able to diversify our curriculum by adding drones and artificial intelligence to farming. It has also assisted us with reducing our carbon blueprint by reducing the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.” Her perspective underscores the transformative impact of the grant, not only in addressing food scarcity but also in enhancing agricultural variety and incorporating advanced technology into farming practices, all contributing to a reduced ecological footprint.

Looking ahead, we are enthusiastic about witnessing the continued growth and success of Ms. Dawn Wilkerson and A New Dawn Inc. as they strive to make enduring contributions to the Mill Creek-Parkside and the broader Philadelphia community.

Stay in Touch with A New Dawn Inc:

Phone: 267-277-3069

Email: support@anewdawnincorporated.org

Website: www.anewdawnincorporated.org

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