Philadelphia School Students Raise More than $12,000 During 7th Annual Dollar Defense Campaign

7th Annual Dollar Defense program raises funds for to help increase the number of breast cancer survivors and research as well as delivers life-saving messages to parents and loved ones.

For the seventh consecutive year, Susan G. Komen® Philadelphia has partnered with the Philadelphia School District for Dollar Defense, a unique month-long breast cancer awareness, education, and fundraising project that embraces students, faculty and parents of the District. This year’s program raised $12,059 (as of 11/06/17) to fuel the Komen Philadelphia mission, which serves the local community by providing mammograms and treatment services for women in need, supporting survivors, families battling breast cancer and the metastatic breast cancer community, and educating at-risk communities, as well as funds research.

“When you get right down to it, each of these students and faculty members are making sure more women survive breast cancer,” said Elaine I. Grobman, Chief Executive Officer, Komen Philadelphia. “They are doing this by having the conversation about breast cancer and the importance of early detection. They are doing it by taking our messages home to their mothers, grandmothers and aunts. And, they are doing it by raising the funds that empower us to provide free services for women in need… as well as empower researchers to develop more effective treatments.”

Grobman went on to say that the fact that Dollar Defense is now in its 7th year attests to the importance of giving younger generations a role to play in fighting breast cancer, as well as focusing them on the hope that exists.

“Sadly, most of these students will have been touched by breast cancer long before they finish elementary school. A parent, grandparent, teacher, friend’s mom, aunt—many of them will tell you about someone they know who faced this disease. These children who are no more than 10 years old are intelligent about key breast cancer issues and what it takes to fight it. Through programs like Dollar Defense they grow more and more confident in their ability to save lives as ambassadors of our mission. And they are determined to personally make sure no woman dies from this disease.”

Through Dollar Defense—which is held every October in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—Komen Philadelphia and the District help children, as well as parents, focus on the progress and positive change happening in the breast cancer movement, such as there being more than 3.1 million survivors in this country, advances in treatment and growth in survival rates. Also, key to the outreach is helping students and parents feel hopeful instead of helpless. Messages shared with the students demonstrate how they are helping to save lives now and to create a future in which no life is threatened by breast cancer by empowering the work of Komen Philadelphia, as well as by taking educational materials home to their families.

This educational component is the foundation of the program’s development. As part of Dollar Defense, Komen Philadelphia and the School District send letters to students, parents and faculty/staff, which explain the activities of the project, as well as information on breast cancer basics, breast health practices, and how to access resources in the community for free mammograms, diagnostics and treatment. Students are educated via a letter with a few simple steps to take action—such as discussing concerns with their parents and reminding loved ones to get their mammograms. Adults receive letters with more detailed information about breast cancer risks, signs and prevention, as well as a list of free services for women in need in Komen Philadelphia’s fifteen-county service area.

In terms of fundraising, Dollar Defense also has a special message for students: every dollar makes an impact. The fundraising mechanism utilizes Komen Philadelphia’s Pretty In Pig program, sponsored by Dietz & Watson. Pretty In Pig has a special appeal to school-aged children as it utilizes over-sized and desk-top piggy banks to raise funds for the cause and demonstrates the huge achievement that comes from everyone working together. This year, students had the opportunity to contribute $1 or more to the Pretty In Pig program from October 1-31, which benefits Komen Philadelphia, and participate in a special activity at their school in celebration of National Mammography Day on October 20.

While not a required part of the program, every year teachers experience students wanting to discuss breast cancer on their own level in the class room—which Komen Philadelphia sees as another important dynamic driving progress in the fight to end breast cancer.

“As a breast cancer survivor, mother and grandmother, experiencing the student’s excitement and Dollar Defense activities is empowering to me personally and provides such tremendous hope for our entire community,” said Sally Rotenberg, a retired teacher from the Philadelphia School District and Komen Philadelphia Volunteer Captain who was instrumental in starting the Dollar Defense program and continues to lead the program’s implementation every year. “These children will be the next generation to lead the breast cancer movement, they have already proven their commitment to this fight in tremendous ways. Seeing them take action, and take ownership, in this cause leaves no doubt in my mind that we’ll continue to save more lives every day, and one day live in a world in which breast cancer is no longer a threat to any life.”

A resounding success in terms of fundraising and increased awareness, Dollar Defense was launched in 2011 and is now an annual program, which both groups feel will continue for many years to come. Each fall, Komen Philadelphia and the District embrace a family of energetic, creative and team-oriented teachers, students and parents who are primed to make the program even more successful than the year before. The 2017 Dollar Defense brings the program’s seven-year fundraising total to approximately $158,360.


A Dietz & Watson “Grillebration” party was held on November 14 for the top ten fundraising schools in the District-wide Dollar Defense program. 

Classroom and school fundraising from October 1-31 was totaled to determine the 2017 Dollar Defense winners.  The top 2017 fundraising schools were (listed highest to lowest fundraising total):

  • Fox Chase School—also was the top fundraising school of all participating schools
  • Stephen Decatur Elementary School
  • Louis H. Farrell Elementary School
  • Bondine High School for International Affairs
  • L. FitzPatrick Elementary
  • W. Catharine Elementary School
  • Solis-Cohen Elementary School
  • Honorable Luis Muñoz-Marín Elementary School
  • Furness High School
  • John Barry Elementary School


About “Dollar Defense”

In the fall of 2011, Susan G. Komen Philadelphia approached the School District of Philadelphia to discuss how they could work together to bring awareness and support to students, parents and faculty, while also cultivating activism among the next generation to lead the fight against breast cancer in the local community. The decision was made to leverage the momentum of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, as well as Komen Philadelphia’s Pretty In Pig program, sponsored by Dietz & Watson. Pretty In Pig has a special appeal to school-aged children as it utilizes over-sized and desk-top piggy banks to raise funds for the cause. Through “Dollar Defense,” students step up to defend their loved ones, and their community, against breast cancer dollar by dollar. Through the messages of Komen Philadelphia’s Pretty in Pig children begin to understand they can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer because every penny counts when it comes to saving lives. 

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