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Early Childhood Education – Action For Early Learning

Action for Early Learning (AFEL)

is the Early Childhood Education Strategy for the West Philly Promise Neighborhood supporting children and families entering kindergarten, so that all West Philly children are ready to succeed.


About AFEL

The West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning Initiative (AFEL) is a Drexel University-led collaboration of community stakeholders, social service and education agencies working together to improve equitable access to quality early childhood education (ECE) and support parents and caregivers as their child’s first teachers. AFEL is the early childhood education improvement strategy for the West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood Initiative. Its long-term goals for West Philadelphia children are 1) Kindergarten Readiness and 2) Reading at Grade Level by the End of Third Grade so that children can be successful in school and beyond. To achieve these goals, AFEL partners with several organizations to improve the quality of early childhood education options through the AFEL Alliance of Childcare Providers and to promote awareness in the community around the importance of high quality ECE, what high quality ECE looks like, and how to access it through the AFEL Family Ambassador Program.


AFEL’s Five-Year Report: Strengthening Children and Families through Circles of Support details the process, challenges, and accomplishments that have taken AFEL from a small early childhood education quality improvement program to a place-based community-change initiative in West Philadelphia. Read the Full Report or the Executive Summary.


AFEL's Partners include: 


· Academy of Natural Sciences 

· A.J. Drexel Autism Institute 


· Children’s Literacy Initiative 


· Conquering Kindergarten


· First Up

· Drexel School of Education 

· Mantua Civic Association 

· Parent Child Plus 

· People’s Emergency Center 

· Read by Fourth Campaign 

· School District of Philadelphia 

· Sesame Street IN CommuNITIES

· Youth Services Inc.



Funding for this multi-year initiative is made possible through support from several foundations, including the Lenfest Foundation, PNC Grow Up Great, United Way, US Department of Education, Vanguard Strong Start for Kids, and William Penn Foundation and the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).


For more information about AFEL, please contact AFEL Project Director Maria Walker,




Instagram: @westphillyAFEL

Twitter: @westphillyAFEL 

AFEL in the News


  • Philly is a force behind a new book that helps infants and adults alike share the joys of reading aloud - AFEL Family Ambassadors assisted with a book design to promote literacy among families. Thanks to William Penn Foundation for project support! -The Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug 24, 2021 READ MORE

  • Diversifying Early Education Leadership Fellowship - William Penn Foundation Blog Post,  July 20, 2021  READ MORE

    William Penn Foundation Great Learning Program Officer Kellie Brown led a Q&A with participants in the inaugural cohort of the Diversifying Early Education Leadership Fellowship (DEEL). DEEL aims to build more inclusive, representative leadership for Philadelphia’s early childhood education community. Included in the interview are AFEL Alliance Manager Sherilynn Kimble and AFEL DEEL Fellow Unis Bey, CEO/Executive Director of Grays Ferry Early Learning Academy. AFEL is grateful to be participating in Temple University's DEEL Fellowship as a host organization.

  • Philadelphia Early Learning Community Speaks Out: An Action Plan for Quality Improvement - BUILD Initiative Report, 2021 READ MORE
    A new report from The BUILD Initiative explores opportunities to further develop and improve a system of quality improvement supports in Philadelphia. Team AFEL is proud that AFEL is identified twice in the report (pages 8 and 70) for its successful, equitable ECE quality improvement approaches. We are grateful to our funders – Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program™ and the William Penn Foundation – for commissioning the report and applaud the BUILD team for the many months of hard work and effort that went into it. AFEL recognizes that there is a lot more work to do to ensure our children are connected to high quality ECE and we remain committed to continue on the path to equitable access!

  • In Mantua: If benefits are building blocks, what do we do about benefit cliffs? - Generocity Philly, Jan. 13, 2021 Read More


For past news, click on "news and publications" in the AFEL History Timeline below: