Kyle "The Conductor" Morris, EDU '22, is a part-time executive educational leadership doctoral student and a full-time Philadelphia youth advocate.
Morris is the founding executive director of the non-profit The ECO Foundation. The organization, established in 2018, encourages Philadelphia students, and the adults in their lives, to get more involved in their communities.
"When discussing [Philadelphia] community deficits, I realized many issues could be solved if people had more education, culture, and opportunities. We named our organization The ECO Foundation, and never looked back," Morris said.
The organization aims to introduce youth to urban farming, and assist them in starting businesses, expressing themselves through technology and strengthening their emotional and academic intelligence.
"We exclusively hire young people from the neighborhood, so they have a safe place to learn and grow while serving their community," said Morris. "The excitement of a young person stepping into their power, and getting paid to make sure their neighbors are taken care of is something I wish everyone could see."
Recently, the non-profit has shifted its focus and volunteer efforts to supporting neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food. With help from the community, The ECO Foundation is able to obtain fresh produce donations and purchase groceries at Village Market Produce in West Philadelphia.
"If anyone is in need, then it is our duty to help them fulfill that need," said Morris. "We refuse to have people starve when others have so much. We were fortunate enough to mobilize members of our local and cyber community to support their brothers and sisters in a time of need."
Volunteers assist in sorting the donated and purchased groceries into bags of fruits, vegetables, and starches. Bags are then delivered to neighborhoods in need. Morris reports the organization has raised enough money to support this distribution through the summer.
Morris also spends his time interning with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (CURES), which has provided a health research grant to identify gaps in care and support services and racial disparities between high-risk opioid users returning to North and West Philadelphia from incarceration.
Temple University Department of Criminal Justice Professor Steven Belenko is a principal investigator for the CURES project and says "Morris' passion for serving his community and helping others in need was obvious from the beginning. In addition to his academic accomplishments and impressive work as a student in this internship program, I and the other faculty have been so impressed by his community-focused projects through his foundation that have helped so many youth and community members. He truly embodies the Temple spirit of strong academics with strong community engagement."
"I am fortunate enough to be enrolled in the executive educational leadership doctoral program while completing my principal certification at Lincoln University making me eligible for this rewarding experience [with CURES]," said Morris.
Morris says his time at the College of Education and Human Development has also allowed him to network with educators who are "tapped into" local communities, a resource he has found to be invaluable.
"At the end of [the executive educational leadership] program, I will have joined the ranks of black doctors of education everywhere. I will use my newfound knowledge [and] network to expand [The ECO Foundation's] reach, and spread our message," said Morris. "With an education from Temple University, we will be unstoppable."
Visit TheECOfoundation.com to get involved and learn more.