No “I” in team – Neumann Goretti’s team makes the school safer 

Ss. Neumann Goretti High School is a bedrock of the South Philadelphia community. Located at  1736 S. 10th Street, the school has provided an academically-strong, faith-filled education for  students since 1954. But the school’s 70-year old building presents safety challenges related to unobstructed access to the school interior and the high cost of upgrading security systems to prevent unwanted access.  A state grant program will help the school address these safety issues in the upcoming months. 

To address the safety challenges, Neumann Goretti gathered  a dedicated internal team to use its collective knowledge and skillset to get the job done. This included Rory Sweeney, Neumann Goretti’s interim president; Duke Doblick, CFRE, the school’s Director of Institutional Advancement; Joseph F. Marino, Chair, Neumann Goretti Board of Directors; and Mark Squilla, 1980 alumnus, Neumann Goretti Board of Directors member, and 1st District Councilmember. 

In late September 2022, Rory requested that Duke research the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Safe Schools Grant opportunity. Duke learned that a Safe Schools Grant would be a good way to address the  school’s access challenges. 

Rory contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to visit the school for a walk-through with a  prevention services vendor who specializes in exterior door security systems. The school was  presented with a quote that was expected, but well outside its budget operating on a razor-thin margin. 

With Rory’s oversight and approval, Duke came up with a strong and well-thought-out application which was submitted in early November 2022.  The application incorporated recent crime and safety data from the Philadelphia Police Department’s website. This helped highlight why an upgraded door access system was vital for a safe school environment for students, faculty, and staff.

To guarantee the grant’s success, Rory and Duke sought the support of the area’s elected officials. Joseph F. Marino, Chair, Neumann Goretti Board of Directors worked with Councilmember Squilla to garner endorsements from state representative Elizabeth Fiedler, 184th Legislative District, and state senator Nikil Saval, 1st Senatorial District. In early January 2023, Fiedler and Saval sent a letter of endorsement to the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

On February 10, 2023, Neumann Goretti received the exciting news that its Safe Schools grant application was approved. The process to upgrade the school’s exterior door access system will begin soon. It will help maintain a safe and secure learning environment for the 580 students  entrusted to the school’s care. This is one South Philly team that claimed victory in the City of  Brotherly Love—a city which has seen its share of recent team accomplishments.