Local Mother Tries to Manage StartUp Non-Profit during Pandemic

Charlese Freeman

Elsa Adams had the vision to help Philadelphia youth reach their full potential; thus, Jump In Foundation was born.

Elsa Adams began dreaming of how she could make a difference in the life of youth back in 2017. Devastated by the increase of gun violence among Philadelphia’s youth, the idea for Jump-In Youth Foundation was born.

Three years later, amid a global pandemic and social uproar, the city’s gun violence has rapidly increased. With 1,969 shooting victims, 2020 has long surpassed 2017’s gun violence rates.

“I pushed to develop a program that would grab them [the youth] from high school to career ages with hopes they would set a goal for themselves,” said Adams. “I know that kids do not grow up saying they want to hustle on the corner, so the idea came to have a tool become available for those who wanted to achieve in the areas that best fit them.”

She explained that her organization exposes the youth to different life alternatives — the workforce or college. The organization equips youth with the skills they need to become successful individuals. These tools include academic, physical and emotional support.

The organization also connects youth in a career setting through educational and outdoor community programs. The foundation has partnered with other community groups in the past. Jump-In Youth participated in the National Homicide Justice Alliance’s (NHJA) Angle Picnic, an event that comforts those who have lost family members to gun violence. Jump In Youth uses cultural awareness, arts, technologies and athletics to propel youth forward in the community they serve.

Adams incorporated her personal career into the fibers of her organization’s mission, currently working as a patient service representative at Main Line Healthcare Family Medicine in Bryn Mawr, Adams stressed the importance of health and wellness, especially during the pandemic. Adams said she tries to ensure the health and safety of her own family by providing them with black elderberry and other vitamin c rich supplements for the immune system.

The biggest events on Jump-In’s calendar included “Motivation in May”, a series of motivational speakers in the month of May and the Annual Health and Safety Fair, both canceled due to the pandemic.

After working in East Norriton’s Urgent Care for 5 years, she decided to further her education. Like many other students, she graduated with her degree during the Covid-19 pandemic using virtually learning to do so. She graduated from Pierce College with a bachelor’s degree in intergraded leadership and organizational development. A degree that would only aid in her plans for Jump-In Youth.

With Adams being a mother of a teenager and an eight-year-old, juggling her schedules and personal life has been difficult during the pandemic.

“It’s been difficult with everyone sharing the same space…lots of meltdowns,” said Adams.

With more than 4000 non-profits in Philadelphia since 2000, the pandemic has disturbed the ever-growing non-profit spere.

In the event of another wave of the virus, Adams suggested that other non-profit organizations, whether they are a start-up or well-established, take time during this health crisis to consider alternative ways to operate.

“I would suggest spending this time to build different strategies in case this comes back around again. [Organizations] have to make sure they are investing in the kids and make each one [in-person events] count” said Adams.

She also mentioned holding virtual events is harder for people to adjust to, as their attention span on Zoom meetings is much shorter, but it is a platform that foundations must adapt to.

“Everything was about being social, so with COVID it has been harder,” said Adams.

With many of Adams’ events taking place in large group settings, she has had to rethink many event ideas.

“It’s almost like a youth conference. It’s a day-long conference with a few workshops,” said Adams. “The conferences would help them get back on track with their goals and move forward after the pandemic.”

The city has once again put in place regulations to combat the pandemic. As COVID-19 cases spike across the nation, many group activities are put on hold. In Philadelphia, outdoor gatherings are limited at 10% occupancy and indoor gathers are prohibited.

Adams said the entire ordeal has taught her patience. She admitted that structure is something she would have done differently in terms of her foundation.

She still reaches out to find board members and those who have a passion for working with youth.

Adams said she still wants to expand the foundation because she believes it is a stepping stone for high school and college youth. Once the pandemic passes, Adams is hoping to have a round-table conference where the children can talk about how they coped with COVID-19 and how they plan to move forward positively.

“I realize that working with the youth is not everyone’s passion. It takes a special person to work with youth, but this is the age [high school students] that are in trouble right now,” explained Adams.