Alex Peay (Philadelphia ’10, ’11) credits his service as a City Year AmeriCorps member in Philadelphia with influencing and preparing him to become a nonprofit leader. After majoring in Politics with minors in American Studies and Media/Communications from Ursinus College, Alex spent two years serving as a Team Leader with City Year Philadelphia. He led a team of six AmeriCorps members through their daily service, coordinated large scale service projects and facilitated trainings in self-evaluation, mentorship and peer leadership. After two years of impactful service with City Year Philadelphia, Alex spent the next three years working in youth and community engagement at the Knight Foundation, Frontline Solutions and the City of Philadelphia before founding his own nonprofit organization, Rising Sons.
From very beginning of his AmeriCorps member experience, Alex felt supported and empowered by City Year Philadelphia’s staff. “When I first started at City Year Philadelphia, they asked me what I wanted to do, and I told them I wanted to start a nonprofit,” Alex says. “City Year put me in place where I could learn everything I could…between the technicalities of [starting a nonprofit] to in-kinding [donations].” Today, Alex continues to serve the Philadelphia community as the Founder and President of Rising Sons, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of life of young men of color through civic engagement and workforce development.
City Year opened Alex’s eyes to the power of service and the impact it can have in a community. “Service is definitely a huge part of [Rising Sons]. With service, we have the ability to help neighborhoods that lack jobs and have high crime rates.” Building economic mobility and sustainability is a core value of Rising Sons’ mission. In addition to improving economic growth, Rising Sons also seeks to improve the way “the community is being seen, and that is where service comes in.”
Today, Alex’s City Year experience continues to inform his work and how he thinks about his organization’s vision, impact and program model. Rising Sons is currently undergoing a serious re-branding phase as Alex and his team expand the work of Rising Sons and rename the organization Ones Up. Ones Up will open up programs and impact to women and members of the LGBT community. “This actually had a lot to do with City Year. City Year ingrained a lot of diversity into us,” Alex notes. The idea of Ones Up is rooted in “you and I are one and rise and fall together. It’s all about humanity and making sure we give everyone equal opportunities that they deserve.”
Alex Peay, President & Founder, and Mubarak Lawrence, Vice President and Director of Operations, showing everyone at Summer Academy the concept of Ones Up.
Alex is one of six winners of this year’s Comcast NBCUniversal Leadership Awards. To learn more about the Comcast NBCUniversal Leadership Award and this year’s award winners, visit the City Year alumni website here.