School District of Philadelphia Named 2023 Rise Up Partner of the Year by NRF Foundation


The NRF Foundation has announced the School District of Philadelphia as its 2023 Rise Up Partner of the Year. Presented by Old Navy, the award recognizes the school district for its success with the NRF Foundation’s Rise Up training and credentialing program in Philadelphia and for its part in expanding the program across Pennsylvania.

“The NRF Foundation is honored to recognize the excellent work by the School District of Philadelphia to prepare its students for great careers in retail and beyond,” says NRF Foundation executive director Bill Thorne. “This award highlights the pivotal role the school district played to bring the Rise Up curriculum to thousands of young adults in Philadelphia and across the state.”

Remote learning needs during the Covid pandemic led a teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School to offer Rise Up training through the district’s career and technical education program. Following that initial success, the industry-recognized credentials were approved by the Pennsylvania Board of Education for use throughout the state.

“We wanted a certification that students could put on their resumes to help build employable skills,” says Denise Magasich, the teacher who introduced the program to students and who now works as an industry development specialist for the School District of Philadelphia’s career and technical education office. “The skills learned not only benefit the students, but also local businesses because retail is a high-priority occupation in the Philadelphia region.”

The Rise Up Partner of the Year recognition also acknowledges the commitment by educators to give students meaningful ways to apply their new skills in a professional setting. Through the district’s career and technical education (CTE) program in sales, marketing and entrepreneurship, students are exposed to the functions of marketing and business, along with customer-service and sales skills. Students apply learned concepts as they conduct market research, design advertising campaigns and develop targeted marketing plans. Hands-on training includes operating a school-based enterprise, designing in-store displays, utilizing social media and delivering sales pitches.

“To have the district recognized at a national level for bringing real-world learning opportunities and retail training into the classroom is a big deal and speaks to the hard work of our staff, educators and students,” says Tony B. Watlington, Sr., School District of Philadelphia superintendent. “This training is important because it provides connections between what students are learning in school to opportunities that meet the needs of our local, state and national workforce – all while also giving our students a competitive advantage among other hires.”

The 2023 NRF Foundation Rise Up Partner of the Year will be celebrated at the NRF Foundation Honors in New York City on January 15. The event will be co-hosted by Bloomingdale’s chairman and CEO and NRF Foundation board chairman Tony Spring and Walmart U.S. president and CEO and NRF board chairman John Furner.

Launched in 2017, the NRF Foundation’s Rise Up program is currently offered by more than 1,500 partners nationwide.