History & Achievements

From SOWN to Connectedly

After 40 years of operating as the Supportive Older Women’s Network (SOWN), we changed our name in 2024 to better reflect our identity and purpose. Connectedly serves all older Philadelphians and strengthens community supports to live connectedly. The social connections gained through participation in Connectedly’s programs are key to healthier living and improved quality of life.

Connectedly’s team poses outside of a building at Impact100 Philadelphia's 2022 Awards Ceremony.
Board Chair Denise McKnight, Executive Director Marypat Tracy, Director of Programs Lori Latimer, Philly Families Connect Coordinator Arlene Segal, and GrandFamily Educator Dionne Wright Chambers at the 2022 Impact100 Philadelphia awards ceremony. Impact100 Philadelphia / Fred Roe

Achievements

2024

• Featured on ABC News

• Featured on Fox29 Philadelphia

• Featured on CBS News

• Featured on 6abc Action News

• Rebranded as Connectedly

2023

• Director of Programs Lori Latimer spoke as a panelist for the Brookdale Foundation Conference

• GrandFamily Educator Dionne Wright Chambers spoke as a panelist for the Family Literacy Program Spotlight at the William Penn Foundation’s first Family Literacy Summit, and Director of Programs Lori Latimer facilitated the Caregiver Spotlight panel

• Director of Programs Lori Latimer and GrandFamily Educator Carly Handley presented at the IEL’s National Conference for Community Schools and Family Engagement on strategies to engage grandfamilies in literacy and education

• Selected by the City’s Office of Innovation and Technology’s Digital Forms Team to represent older adults in a research project to make digital forms more user-friendly

2022

• Awarded a Great Learning Grant from the William Penn Foundation to expand the GrandFamily Resource Center to include case management and family support services

• Winner of Impact100 Philadelphia’s Core Mission grant

• Winner of The Transition Network Philadelphia Giving Circle Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation’s grant

• Winner of the Community Champions Awards & Grants Challenge by the City of Philadelphia for serving communities in need during the Covid-19 pandemic

• Awarded a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to equip grandparents raising grandchildren to effectively engage with schools

2021

• Awarded a grant from Temple’s COVID-19 Trauma Informed Workforce Initiative Fund to conduct Covid-19 education and vaccine outreach

• Completed Bridgespan’s Achieving Strategic Clarity program to develop tools for guiding strategic planning and organizational decision-making

2020

• Winner of the GSK IMPACT Award for working hand-in-hand with our community to improve health

• Awarded a COVID-19 Fund grant from United Way GPSNJ, Philadelphia Foundation, and the City of Philadelphia to serve families during the Covid-19 pandemic

• Underwent leadership transition with Founding Executive Director Merle Drake resigning, and long-standing Director of Programs Marypat Tracy named as Executive Director

2019

• Completed the Pew Fund’s Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative to strengthen evaluation and learning practices

• Philly Families Connect Coordinator Arlene Segal was honored by PCA’s Emergency Fund

2018

• Philly Families Read Together was established with a multi-year grant from the William Penn Foundation

• Social Worker Deborah Davis was awarded ARTZ Philadelphia’s Community Catalyst Award

• Awarded a Digital Literacy Alliance grant to teach computer skills to grandparent caregivers

2017

• Founder Merle Drake was honored as an advocate for women and girls by WOMEN’S WAY at the 40th Anniversary Powerful Voice Awards

2016

• Awarded a finalist grant by Impact100 Philadelphia

2014

• GrandFamily Resource Center was featured on Channel 6 Action News

2010

• Selected by Facebook fans as the winning charity of the Live Nation World Lilith Fair Award

2009

• Healthy Lives program was established with a federal grant from the Administration on Aging (one of 14 nationally)

2008

• Awarded the Alfred and Mary Douty Foundation Award for distinctive service to the community

• Awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Community Impact Award for excellence in community healthcare

2006

• GrandFamily Resource Center was established with a grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Local Initiative Funding Partners

2005

• A study by Thomas Jefferson University found our Telegroup program to effectively reduce depression in participants

1999

• Awarded the national SHARE Leadership Award by GlaxoSmithKline

1997

• Our nationally recognized group model was published in Self-Help Support Groups for Older Women: Rebuilding Elder Networks through Personal Empowerment

1984

• Organization was founded by Merle Drake