RTP Spotlight: Robert Bellinger, Founder
"RTP has become part of who I am. I love the organization, what it does and how it improves people's lives in a very meaningful and impactful way. Helping people in a way that is meaningful is part of our DNA."
Shortly after Rebuilding Together, then named Christmas in April, started in Midland Texas, a reporter went to investigate the organization for an article on American philanthropy. He was so impressed that he brought the idea back to his church in Washington DC, where Robert Bellinger was a member and actively involved in youth programming. At that time Robert became involved with the organization. When he enrolled in Wharton
business school at the University of Pennsylvania, he took classes and experienced first-hand living in a city undergoing urban decay. There were many once beautiful row homes either vacant or being abandoned.
Robert realized very quickly that it was time to stop complaining about his surroundings and start doing something to help; clearly there was a gigantic need. He knew there were huge resources that were untapped with the corporate personalities that Wharton attracts, and that the students had the skills, knowledge, and access to capital to be a part of “Christmas in April” (the original name of Rebuilding Together). The first year Christmas in April did a build in Philadelphia, 1989, they thought they would do three or four houses. They ended up raising enough money that they were able to do ten houses with 200 volunteers. After ten years, RTP hired its first staff member, a full time executive director; they had grown well beyond Wharton. Robert is so appreciative of the continued partnership with Wharton. "We never would have gotten started without Wharton, they are part of the family...and a big part of the community in Philadelphia. Students continue to live in the neighborhoods of the families we are trying to help. They should and do play a role in making Philadelphia a better place."