Philly program offers fresh start for US city’s “Concrete Cowboys”

Youngsters help groom a pony at the Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy.
Youngsters help groom a pony at the Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy. © Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy

The producers and directors of the Idris Alba movie Concrete Cowboy have established a riding academy for black urban cowboys in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy (PURA) was founded to preserve the life, legacy, and culture of black urban cowboys in the city, and this new facility will provide a space unlike any other for children, teens and adults to experience horses up close and personal.

Concrete Cowboy is scheduled to air on Netflix in April. Directed by Ricky Staub, it is based on the novel Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri, about a 15-year-old boy from Detroit who is sent to live with his estranged father in Philadelphia, where he learns about the little-known local urban cowboys.

PURA has launched a fundraising campaign “Fresh Start for Philly Youth”, in partnership with “Concrete to Show Jumping” which was created by PURA executive director Erin Brown and North Run’s Missy Clark. The campaign will help raise money for the new PURA facility in downtown Philadelphia.

With a mission to open doors to diversified worlds within the horse industry, Concrete to Show Jumping aims to open the eyes, minds and hearts of equestrians by participating in new experiences, forming new alliances and building friendships with equestrians from diverse backgrounds.

“If your child wants to learn how to ride but you can’t afford it, there will be a program for that,” Brown says. “There will be recreational programs for those that just want to be around horses. This new facility will provide a safe environment for everyone in the community to be able to enjoy.”

PURA has started a  “Fresh Start for Philly Youth” Fundraising Campaign.
PURA has started a “Fresh Start for Philly Youth” Fundraising Campaign. © Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy

The “Fresh Start for Philly Youth” fundraiser is the first project that the two organizations have launched together, in order to raise money for PURA’s new long term facility. This home will provide stabling for about 25 horses, paddocks, an indoor and an outdoor arena, as well as recreational space for other youth and veteran programs. With the help of the equestrian community, PURA and Concrete to Showjumping believe that this goal is attainable. Every dollar raised will be put towards the facility and the horses and students that will call it home.

Each pledge towards the new facility and “Fresh Start for Philly Youth” of $50 or more will “Adopt A Horse” that is part of PURA’s program. Donors will receive a quarterly letter about their horse and its new home from one of the students that are part of the PURA program. Donations of $100 help adopt a horse and will receive a “Concrete to Show Jumping” gaiter or socks of your choice from Dreamers and Schemers. Donations of $500 or more will adopt a horse and have a bridle or saddle rack hung in the donor’s name at the new PURA facility.

Clark says that horses have touched the lives of those involved with PURA in a special way. “It’s important to continue that legacy and bring it to people who would not otherwise have the access to horses in their community.”

» Donations to Fresh Start for Philly Youth can be made here.

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