Earlier today, the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge (FFVF), in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secondary schoolsannounced a scholarship opportunity for high school students to participate in the Spirit of America Youth Leadership Program (SOA). This initiative is made possible through the generosity of the Connelly Foundation.

The SOA is a four-day conference for high school students that provides dynamic interaction with experts on citizenship, democracy, the judiciary system, the political process, and the free enterprise economic system. This initiative will teach students the principles of civic responsibility. There are five sessions planned for the current academic year.

David Harmer, Chief Executive Officer of the FFVF; Nancy Kurtz, Interim Superintendent of Secondary Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; and Kelly Williamson, a sophomore at Lansdale Catholic High School in Lansdale (Montgomery County) were present. Ms. Williamson was a participant in SOA during fall 2021.

“At FFVF, we recognize that that only an active citizenry can safeguard their own communities, guided by a greater appreciation for our history, ideals, and the relevance of our country’s founding documents,” said FFVF CEO David Harmer. “Through the generosity of the Connelly Foundation, combined with the support of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, this scholarship opportunity will carry tremendous impact on our rising generation as they learn and understand how to become active, engaged, and responsible leaders in our community through our Spirit of America program.”

Over the next three years, FFVF will welcome over 900 students from Archdiocesan secondary schools to participate in the SOA program with a laser focus on the core Freedoms Foundation principles of civic responsibility – accountability, respect, productivity, political participation, and generosity. Students will also participate in interactive lectures, workshops, and historical tours, in addition to learning how to engage civilly in political discourse while identifying and fulfilling community needs in manner that respects the dignity of all people.

“In a challenging time of deep political divides, this initiative provides our young people with the fundamental tools necessary to deepen their understanding of civic responsibility and to sharpen their skills regarding political discourse,” said Nancy Kurtz, Interim Superintendent of Secondary Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “This program aligns with our mission of preparing our students for success through servant leadership and it will serve them well as they mature into leaders for their communities in the future.”

In November 2021, FFVF hosted 36 students from Archdiocesan secondary schools including:  Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill (Delaware County); Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield (Delaware County); Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Fairless Hills (Bucks County); Lansdale Catholic High School in Lansdale (Montgomery County); Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia; Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School in South Philadelphia; Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford (Montgomery County); and several private Catholic schools throughout the region.

“After attending the Spirit of America program recently, I highly recommend this program to students,” said Kelly Williamson, student at Lansdale Catholic High School.  “The Freedoms Foundation campus is amazing. I learned a lot, enjoyed the activities and field trips, and built friendships with many other students. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.”

Background Information on the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge (FFVF)

FFVF is a non-profit organization that educates students on American rights and responsibilities, honor acts of civic virtue, and challenge all to serve a cause greater than themselves. FFVF provides more than 40,000 hours of educational instruction to students from across the county on America and our democratic system of government.  It was established in 1949, to create and build an understanding of the spirit and philosophy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. FFVF aims to cultivate among all Americansbut particularly the rising generationappreciation for the history, ideals, and continuing relevance of these charters of freedom. In addition, FFVF provides immersive, intensive, experiential educational programs for students, and college-accredited, graduate-level, professional-development courses for teachers.

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Editor’s Note:

For additional information about the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, please visit freedomsfoundation.org/. For information on the spring 2022 programs, please visit here or email spiritofamerica@ffvf.org.

For information about Archdiocese of Philadelphia Secondary Schools, please visit aopcatholicschools.org/. For information about Faith in the Foundation, please visit faithinthefuture.com/.

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