PHILADELPHIA public-school students heading to new schools because of the recently approved closures, mergers and grade reconfigurations need not worry about getting squeezed out of their favorite after-school activities, say community leaders.

That's because Mayor Nutter and other education advocates issued a fundraising challenge Monday to city residents, asking for donations to fund after-school programs at the receiving schools, such as debate and chess clubs.

The donations are intended to fund programs at 40 schools, providing "safe, sustainable" activities for 10,000 students starting in September.

At the announcement, Nutter was accompanied by district Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and Marciene Mattleman, president of After School Activities Partnership.

The partnership kicked off the challenge with a $50,000 donation; it matched a $25,000 contribution donated by Vivian and Oscar Lasko.

The partnership will fund chess and Scrabble teams, drama clubs and debate squads.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Philadelphia Children First Fund at 215-979-1188 or

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina