The Bodine Fund: Sustaining the World Affairs Council’s Partnership with Bodine High School for International Affairs
For more than 30 years, the Bodine High School for International Affairs has been a gem within the School District of Philadelphia. The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia co-founded the school with the School District in 1981.
Since its founding 36 years ago, the Council has provided a regularly scheduled, on-site liaison who works closely with Bodine students and faculty to augment the school’s international curriculum by providing a variety of global affairs programming, in-class speakers, special assemblies, homestay opportunities, honors courses, a diverse array of academic field trips and study abroad excursions. This alliance has offered students the extraordinary opportunity to speak with global leaders, such as former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair and the Honorable Joe Biden, Vice-President of the United States of America. In addition, Bodine students have actively participated in the Council’s global education programs and are frequent guests at our signature speaker events. Council members and staffers are often tapped to help serve as community judges and participants at Bodine’s annual programs.
The $70,000 per school year funding for this position and these programs came from the School District of Philadelphia up until the 2013-2014 academic year. On March 11, 2014, the School District informed the World Affairs Council that in light of the District’s continuing fiscal crisis, no money would be forthcoming to fund the Council’s liaison position or enrichment programs at Bodine. Consequently, the Council had no choice but to remove its full-time staff person from the school. For a more complete account of these events, see Kristin A. Graham’s March 19, 2014 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Lack of Money Forces Bodine and World Affairs Council to Cut Ties” and Pat Loeb’s March 20, 2014 article entitled “Amid Philadelphia School District Woes, World Affairs Council Severs from Bodine H.S” on KYW.
In the wake of the School District of Philadelphia’s March 2014 decision to eliminate all funding for the Council’s liaison position and World Affairs Council enrichment programs at Bodine, the Council initiated a regional and nation-wide grassroots fundraising effort to sustain – in the short term – this longtime and deeply valued partnership. Thanks to extraordinary support from the Council’s corporate and individual friends, including many Bodine alumni, parents, and teachers, the Council raised the capital to continue funding this position through the 2014-2015 academic year. To see how the School District of Philadelphia responded, view an archived thank-you letter from Bodine’s former Assistant Superintendent, Ms. Cheryl J. Logan. To view how the school responded, read an archived open letter from the students and faculty members at Bodine and thank-you notes from Bodine’s students. In addition, a follow-up article entitled “Bodine’s International Program Saved by Readers” was published by Kristin A. Graham in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 2, 2014.
Moving forward, the Council is seeking to create permanency for one of Philadelphia’s most esteemed and emulated educational partnerships, which currently totals $70,000 per year. With individual, foundation and corporate contributions, we are hopeful that we can maintain the valuable Education Coordinator & Bodine High School Liaison position and the global education programs at Bodine for years to come.