Do Something

Donate to Rebecca’s Mission

Lend your support to Rebecca’s Mission as founder Rebecca Benjamin works to get more books into the hands of youth in Philadelphia’s underserved communities.

The nonprofit is accepting book donations or money via its website, or by mail at:

Rebecca’s Mission
1913 Country Club Drive
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

Not sure what books to give? Check out this Amazon wish list for a roundup of page-turners that Benjamin would like to put in her growing library.


Week 1: Jason Kelce’s Eagles Education Season

Each week this season, the Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman compares Philly schools to those of our on-field competitors—and celebrates a local education innovation. This week, he looks at Washington, D.C.

Over the course of this season, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the amazing adults, organizations and institutions that work hard every day to uplift Philly students. But I want to be clear that any single person, of any age, can make a difference in the lives of our youth.

Prefer audio? Listen to this story in CitizenCast below:

Take Rebecca Benjamin, for example. The South Jersey high school junior, 16, has always loved to read. And when she thought about communities in the Philly area that didn’t have easy access to books, she felt bereft, and compelled to do something about it.

Her parents had always modeled serviceher mom, Melissa, as a former teacher in Queens, New York, and her dad, restaurateur Jeff, as co-founder, with Marc Vetri, of Vetri Community Partnership.

“I’ve always been around philanthropy, and every year for Chanukah my family does a night of giving, so I decided to take that further. I didn’t want to stop. That’s how my nonprofit, Rebecca’s Mission, was born,” she explains. “Studies have shown that kids are more apt to read when there’s a greater variety of books to choose from,” she adds.

Rebecca’s Mission, with the support of Benjamin’s parents and younger sister, Ali, started small and grew big: First, Benjamin organized informal book drives, then bigger ones in partnership with organizations like ESF Camps and Barnes & Noble.

She grew to be able to stock programs in-need, including two full school libraries: C.B. Community Schools, which works with students age 16 to 21 who’ve spent time in the foster and juvenile detention systems, and Wissahickon Charter School’s Awbury campus.

Do SomethingNow, she’s ramping up her efforts with the introduction of the Rebecca’s Mission bookmobile, a former senior citizen shuttle that her family purchased and a mechanic-friend thoughtfully renovated to house books. Her plan is to become a mobile library on weekends and during the summer, serving communities and programs in need of books.

“A lot of kids don’t have transportation to libraries, so getting there just isn’t feasible to them,” she says, noting that she’s particularly focused on amassing a collection of books with diverse topics, authors and characters. “The kids in the demographic we’re trying to reach don’t see themselves in [many] books, and having that identity is something important that we’d like to give to them.”

Benjamin’s efforts are so inspiring to meand she’s not alone in improving her community. Now more than ever, teens worldwide are standing up for what they believe in, and making a difference. From students speaking up for gun control, environmental protection, racial healing and more, our youth have important things to say, and we should listen.

In fact, The Citizen, is hosting its first-ever Citizen Teen event this spring, a summit where they’ll bring together teen leaders from around the country to share their wisdom and insight. If you know a teen who’d want to hear from inspiring young people, tell them to follow The Citizen on Instagram for info as the details of the event unfold. And The Citizen wants to hear about more inspiring youth in our community, like Rebecca Benjamin, so please get in touch with info about the inspiring teens on your radar.

For now, you can support Rebecca by donating books or money at her site or on her social media. And you can support more youth by volunteering in your community, and simply having open ears, hearts, and minds.

Next week, we play Dallas again, and I’ll tell you about a new college-readiness and mentorship program.



Washington, D.C.


# of students


# of students


% graduated high school


% graduated high school


% population with a BA


% population with a BA


$ per pupil


$ per pupil


% students economically disadvantaged


% students economically disadvantaged


% students of color


% students of color


% students in charter schools


% students in charter schools


% special education students


% special education students


% English language learners


% English language learners


Note: Unlike Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. schools have separate governing bodies for public charter and traditional public schools. Several of the figures here are calculations derived from the statistics from each, including students of color, those who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners and special education.

Philly Sources: All from School District of Philadelphia except % with a BA from here, and $ per pupil here.

D.C. Sources: # of students and % in charters here. Graduation rate here; % with a BA here; $ per pupil here; % students of color here; % special education, English language learners and economically disadvantaged calculated from here and here.

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