University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Special Focus: Summer Learning
Realizing that its future is deeply intertwined with that of the surrounding communities, the University of Pennsylvania has been deepening its engagement with the West Philadelphia and greater Philadelphia region since the mid-1980s.
With high school graduation rates below 50 percent in West Philadelphia; only 9 percent of residents within the University’s program area holding bachelor’s degrees; and a 25 percent poverty rate in Philadelphia, the need for the University’s engagement with the community is critical. In the 2010-2011 academic year, Penn’s students completed 441,526 service hours, with many of those hours geared toward intergenerational summer learning.
The University’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships implements a number of year-round educational initiatives as well as focused summer learning programs. In summer 2010, the Freedom Schools for Grades K-8 served 345 students through a 6-week literacy and math-based program that also incorporates time for project-based learning to address community issues, art, dance, cooking, and field trips. Penn faculty and student volunteers serve as classroom leads and engage high school students from West Philadelphia as Junior Servant Leaders to implement curricula.
The High School Youth Development Programs engage area secondary students in serving their city during summer months. Undergraduates from Penn mentored 131 high school students in a nutrition initiative. High school students taught healthy cooking classes, tended to school gardens, and operated farmers’ markets, all while developing leadership, academic, and job-related skills.
Penn also hosts a chapter of Innoworks, a national non-profit striving to stimulate interest in science, technology, and engineering among middle school students. The program, which targets under-represented minorities and females, provides a free science and engineering camp run primarily by students in the University’s School of Engineering for fifth- through eighth-graders. Camp leaders emphasize the importance of high school graduation and a college education for future success.
Penn has established a proud legacy of working with its neighbors to strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic fabric of West Philadelphia and the greater Philadelphia region.
*The estimated dollar value of volunteer time for 2010 is $21.36 per hour according to the Independent Sector.