Introducing College Possible Philadelphia – PPRA’s Non-Profit Partner

Photo via College Possible

Every year since 2009, PPRA has selected an annual PRoactive partner. This partner organization is a local nonprofit whose mission aligns with the values of PPRA. We are pleased to introduce this year’s PRoactive partner: College Possible Philadelphia.

Meet members of the College Possible team and learn more about their mission at PPRA’s 75th Anniversary Jubilee on Thursday, January 16th. Donations to support College Possible Philadelphia will be accepted at the event. See below for more information on recommended donations.

No photo description available.What does College Possible Philadelphia do?
College Possible Philadelphia focuses on one of the most important issues in the Greater Philadelphia region- education. The nonprofit organization works with high school students from low-income backgrounds in six Philadelphia and Delaware County schools to guide them to and through college, starting in their junior year of high school. This includes an intensive curriculum of coaching and support through which students attend school-based sessions focused on SAT prep, college and scholarship applications, academic, social, and professional skill development, and more. Coaching continues through to college graduation and provides ongoing financial aid consulting, guidance for on-campus resources, and general support for students as they progress through school.

  • 90 percent of College Possible Philadelphia students are first generation college students.
  • 80 percent are students of color.
  • The average family income of students served is less than $28,000.
  • 96 percent of College Possible Philadelphia students earn admission to college.
  • Students served by College Possible are 4X more likely to earn a degree.

Why did PPRA choose College Possible Philadelphia as this year’s PRoactive partner?
2020 is a monumental year for College Possible Philadelphia as it celebrates its first class of students who joined the program in high school who are on track to graduate college in May. Given that PPRA is an organization that emphasizes the importance of a success pipeline for students from college to career, we thought a PRoactive partnership with College Possible Philadelphia would be a natural fit. We are excited to work with them throughout our 2019-2020 programming year.

How can you help College Possible Philadelphia?
College Possible Philadelphia has asked PPRA to help with raising awareness about their efforts and success.

As a non-profit, College Possible Philadelphia also depends on the generosity of people like you. Please consider donating today: CollegePossible.org/ForPhilly.

The students served also often need supplies – whether its notebooks, pencils, and folders for their current classes, dorm kits as they prepare to head off to college, or snack items, water, and juice for SAT snack bags for SAT practice exams and Real Deal. We will be collecting these types of materials at PPRA events all year long but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to arrange a collection drive in your office or schedule a pickup or drop off of supplies.

#PPRAMemberMonday – Carolyn Belardo

#PPRAMember Monday_Belardo

Carolyn Belardo is the Public Relations Director for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. She has been a member of PPRA for about 20 years.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolyn-belardo-2a8b24b/

Twitter: @AcadNatSciPR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AcademyofNaturalSciences/

“I studied journalism & mass communications (quaint label in 2020) and history in college. An internship at The Trentonian led to my first job as a beat reporter.  Next was United Press International in the Trenton bureau, then in Philadelphia where I served as the bureau chief and later Pennsylvania state editor. The birth of my second kid forced a change of pace, and I joined the Academy of Natural Sciences as the publications editor and, numerous communications job titles later, segued into public relations.”

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what projects are you working on right now?

CB: Preparing for two new exhibition openings in early 2020, celebrating the specimen collections with frequent blog posts, and gearing up for a new environmental focus and programming in the months ahead.  

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

CB: Working with the media to help them tell their stories about the Academy’s science research, environmental stewardship and educational programming. 

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

CB: Latest greatest accomplishment-I get excited every time our scientists and exhibits staff are interviewed in the major local media. Particularly rewarding was The Philadelphia Inquirer coverage when two of the historic dioramas were unveiled after their first major total renovation. 

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

CB: Be flexible with inevitable change and keep learning.  

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

CB: I don’t watch or read anything again and again because there are too many new experiences to be had. Best movie: Lawrence of Arabia.   

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

CB: Reading Terminal Market 

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

CB: Baking muffins because I like to bake or journalism because I like to write and it is ALWAYS important to get the facts out. 

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

CB: Amish pretzel and spinach pie at Reading Terminal Market

#PPRAMemberMonday – Stephanie Byrwa

#PPRAMember Monday_Byrwa

Stephanie Byrwa is the marketing and communications manager at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Philadelphia. She has spent more than 12 years with this amazing specialized pediatric orthopaedic hospital. Her days are spent managing and implementing internal and external communications along with community relations and event planning. She has been a PPRA member for 12 years.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniebyrwa/

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what projects are you working on right now?

SB: We’re working on updating our website and growing our patient ambassador program. Plus planning for 2020!   

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

SB: That every day is different. On any given day, I may be working on a new brochure, writing copy, or planning an event for patients and families. I enjoy working with doctors, families, and everyone in between. Being able to do a little bit of everything keeps me excited to go to work every day. 

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

SB: The latest project that I’m proud of was the work we did for the patient ambassadors who represented and attended the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, a PGA Tour/Fedex Cup event in Las Vegas. Lots of prep work for the event and then the actual event. The days were long on the golf course, but worth it for the media and social coverage we received. Plus getting to know a great group of kids and their parents is always rewarding. It was an experience that they will not forget and neither will I. 

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

SB: Always return phone calls. Even if you aren’t interested. Be kind and respond.  

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

SB: I love any book by local author, Jennifer Weiner.   

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

SB: Since we’re in season for the Flyers I would have to say the Wells Fargo Center! 

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

SB: I have no idea.  

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

SB: Federal Donuts

Between You and MEdia… with Kelsey Fabian

As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start? 

In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!


Having the energy and drive to be up and working before the sun rises takes a certain type of person, and Kelsey Fabian has proven through multiple jobs that she has what it takes. Fabian just celebrated her one-year mark working as a morning reporter for PHL17; the job that’s brought her back to her home state after years away in various parts of the country. The Lancaster County native spoke with University of the Sciences communications manager, Colby Gallagher, about what makes a morning show special and what she looks for when preparing for live shots. Photo courtesy of PHL17.

Kelsey Fabian PHL17

Kelsey Fabian, PHL17

How many years have you been in the industry and where have you worked? 

I’ve been in the industry for about 8 years, a little more than six of them have been on air. I started at NBC10 in Philadelphia working for the web team. From there I pursued a career on-air which took me to Alpena, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Greensboro, North Carolina, and finally back to Philadelphia.

How did you get started as a journalist and why?

I grew up with parents who were avid news watchers and at a young age I took interest in being “the lady on TV.” I took public speaking classes all through high school and wrote for the school paper and enjoyed both so broadcast journalism seemed like the right fit.

What advice would you give to public relations professionals when making a pitch to you?

I work on a live morning show so we do a lot of live feature segments. We have one reporter designated to that every morning. The pitches that makes us want to book your feature are the ones that are visual and interactive. If it’s a cooking segment. let the reporter cook alongside the chef, if it’s previewing an art festival let us make art with a local artist. If we are talking about a kid event, bring kids! If you can’t make it super interactive give us multiple people to talk to interview, it helps to move the segment along.

Journalists get hundreds of emails and pitches. Between you and me, what makes one stand out? Is it the subject line? Do you have to know the sender before opening it?

I would say the subject line and the first two sentences are key. If you don’t grab my attention quickly, then I will assume it isn’t going to grab the viewer’s.

Many PR professionals come from news, but it’s rapidly changing. What’s one thing you wish PR pros did more of?

Send an info sheet once the interview is setup. If we are doing three live hits with you that morning, send me an info sheet that includes what we are showing/doing each hit and the name/names and titles of the people I will be interviewing for every hit.

Also include a small summary of the most important information like time, date, event details, etc. I love when PR people do this; I print it out the morning of and take it with me, it helps me stay organized and is almost like a cheat sheet.

Also, please don’t give me a list of questions you want me to ask and don’t ask me for a list of questions that I am going to ask! I will gladly give you an idea of what I want to talk about and some specifics I want to cover, but I do not pre-write questions for a live segment.

Is there are particular topic or story you prefer over the others? Why?

Not really unless it’s animals, animal stories always win me over. I love variety though, so I like covering almost anything.

What’s a fun and/or interesting fact about yourself that most don’t know?

I am terrified of karaoke. Haha. People assume that just because you are on tv you aren’t shy about anything, but that’s not true.

Best way to pitch Kelsey for PHL17: kfabian@phl17.com

#PPRA Member Monday: Dan Cirucci

#PPRAMember Monday_Cirucci

Dan Cirucci is the founder and editor of The Dan Cirucci Blog. He has been a member of PPRA for over 30 years, having served as president and in 2003 was inducted into the PPRA Hall of Fame.

Twitter: @dancirucci

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-cirucci-22550a13/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dancirucci

Dan Cirucci was born and raised in Camden, NJ, A Villanova (BA) and Rowan (MA) grad, Dan is a lifelong PR practitioner who directed PR for the Philadelphia Bar Association for nearly 30 years, and was inducted into the Philadelphia Public Relations Hall of Fame in 2003. He is a PR advisor to numerous individuals and organizations; a college instructor and lecturer; blogger, TV host and radio guest; citizen, neighbor, husband, father and grandfather.  

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

DC: Right now I’m spending most of my time on my blog and my weekly TV show, The Advocates at rvntv.tv.  

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

DC: The people that I meet and interview on my TV show, The Advocates — the stories they tell, their life experiences, views, observations, hopes and dreams.  

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

DC: Touching the lives of hundreds of communication students while teaching at Rowan, Temple and Penn State. Absolutely, the happiest and most meaningful part of my career! 

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

DC: Be passionate about your work. Take the time to enjoy it. Savor the satisfaction that it gives you and share it with others. Live in the moment!  

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

DC: Almost any musical by Stephen  Sondheim. 

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

DC: Rittenhouse Square. I love people-watching.

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

DC: I’d enjoy being in show business and seeing my name in lights all over Broadway. 

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

DC: Jim’s cheesesteak.