Mt. Airy Learning Tree’s Green Street office.

Mt. Airy Learning Tree’s Green Street office.

by Sam Loth, Fund Drive Committee Member

Having relocated back into Northwest Philadelphia after an absence of 22 years one thing that has struck me is the neighborhood’s enduring quality. In fact, not only has Chestnut Hill remained strong, inviting and delightful, the neighborhoods of Mt. Airy and Germantown have improved markedly.

Continuing strength and overall improvement after two decades are a testament to the ongoing hard work of a broad array of NW Philly organizations and the dedication and vision of thousands of selfless neighbors who willingly volunteer their time and expertise to the benefit of all. The Mt. Airy Learning Tree story is an excellent example of this spirit.

Organized in 1981, MALT was founded by our neighbor Barbara Bloom with the notion that since knowledge is power, the best way to empower ourselves is to teach each other what we know. Neighbors teaching neighbors in a community setting is the model that has propelled MALT from a tiny group of volunteers to a fully grown force in our community with a newly renovated wholly owned headquarters at 6601 Greene Street (corner of Greene and Hortter), three semesters of annual courses in the fall, winter and spring with over 275 courses per semester and a student body of all ages topping out at over 5,000 per year. MALT is administered day-to-day by Executive Director Judy Weinstein, Education Director Nima Koliwad and Technical Director Nicki Toizer. The staff is managed by a 15-member volunteer board of directors led by current President Lanina Cavicchio.

As part of an annual budget of $420,000, MALT distributes its catalog by direct mail to over 75,000 households in Northwest Philly during each semester and further distributes over 10,000 catalogs to area restaurants, shops and public locations. MALT’s website boasts up-to-date technology including a downloadable catalog phone app and a QR code for scanning.

The Chestnut Hill Community Fund supports MALT with annual operations grants which, along with other sponsors, helps to fill the gaps in financing that student tuition doesn’t cover. Classes are offered in over 20 locations including the MALT office, Morris Arboretum, Chestnut Hill Hospital and Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting to name a few.

There are classes that help your professional development as well as mind and body courses, special subjects for kids and teens, cooking, music, you name it. Courses are scheduled for daytime and evening, are conveniently timed and are reasonably priced.

The Mt. Airy Learning Tree is a marvelous resource within our community and is deserving of our support.

To help keep MALT and over 30 other smaller nonprofit organizations successfully funded in Northwest Philly you can make a donation in-person or by mail to CHCF at 8434 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia 19118, or go online to

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