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Civic Engagement at Research Universities
> Models of Civic Engagement Initiatives at Research Universities > University of Pennsylvania

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University of Pennsylvania

Initiatives

University of Pennsylvania Engagement Initiatives

Center for Community Partnerships

Founded in 1992, the Center for Community Partnerships is Penn’s primary vehicle for bringing to bear the broad range of human knowledge needed to solve the complex, comprehensive, and interconnected problems of the American city so that West Philadelphia (Penn’s local geographic community), Philadelphia, the University itself, and society benefit. Through the Center, the University currently engages in three types of activities: academically based community service, direct traditional service, and community development.

CCP Programs:

Academically Based Community Service Courses (ABCS). University students are offered a variety of service learning courses from across disciplines and schools that provide them with opportunities to engage with West Philadelphia schools, churches, and organizations. Connecting faculty and students to the local public schools, ABCS helps develop health promotion, educational, and recreational programs as well as provide direct services to the schools’ students and their families. During the 2005-2006 academic year, 1,446 students enrolled in 53 ABCS courses taught by 44 faculty from across 21 departments and 6 schools.

Access Science. Access Science programs work to reinforce and make effective the core structure of the existing math and science curricula in the K-12 classrooms. Penn student fellows work with teachers to make the best use of their current resources, while also introducing a variety of supplemental resources, to promote hands-on and inquiry-based strategies.

America Reads/ America Counts (AR/AC). AR/AC is a federal work-study program that employs university students as tutors in neighborhood schools. Tutors work with children in grades K-8 to improve their math and literacy skills through one-on-one and small group tutoring, supporting classroom teachers during the school day, and coordinating and staffing after school tutoring programs.

College Access and Career Pathways/ Philadelphia Youth Works. This program primarily works with 50 high school students at University City High and Sayre High Schools to provide a comprehensive program consisting of during and after school internships, academic supports, career exposure and planning activities, and college preparation and application support, including college visits and parent workshops.

Community School Family Nights.The goal of Family Nights is to create school-based community programming, so that schools function as hubs in their communities, engaging residents and community organizations in the process of community building and revitalization. Classes and workshops are offered in recreation, professional and personal development, community development, skills development, and the arts.

Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program at Sayre High School.The core of this program is to integrate the activities of the health promotion center with the educational programs and curricula at both Sayre and Penn. Penn students in Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, and Arts and Sciences, as well as other schools, work at Sayre through new and existing courses, internships, and research projects. A federally funded school-based health center is being developed at the school, set to open in Spring 2007.

The International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy (IC)seeks to explain and advance the contributions of higher education to democracy on college and university campuses, their local communities and the wider society. The IC is affiliated with the Council of Europe (46 member countries) through its Committee on Higher Education and Research and is currently comprised of the U.S., South Africa, Australia and South Korea. Penn houses the executive offices of the IC, and the CCP director is the Co-Chair.

Nonprofit Institute. Since 1999, CCP has held training institutes, taught for the most part by Penn staff and faculty, in nonprofit management for leaders of small to mid-size nonprofits and communities of faith who are primarily serving the needs of the West Philadelphia community.

Penn VIPS (Volunteers in Public Service). The Penn VIPS program develops, implements, and coordinates the volunteer efforts of Penn faculty, staff, and alumni. Activities include a variety of mentoring and school to career programs, scholarship programs, teaching at community schools, technical assistance to community organizations, and coordinated community service events.

Program in Universities, Communities of Faith, Schools and Neighborhood Organizations (PUCFSN). PUCFSN organizes a dialogue among the leaders of these key sectors of the West Philadelphia community, breaking down barriers and developing joint projects such as after school and summer programs and technology training.

Program to Bridge the Digital Divide (DD). DD provides training, technical support and curriculum development for classroom teachers, after school programs, and adult education programs. DD also developed a computer-recycling center on campus to connect older, usable technology to local schools and communities of faith.

Public Service Summer Internship Program. This is a 12-week summer program that engages approximately 20 undergraduates in a series of activities, at the core of which is a service-learning seminar led by the Center director. Each undergraduate works to help solve a strategic real world problem in West Philadelphia related to the seminar theme by conducting research on a pressing problem affecting Penn and its local community and working as an intern in West Philadelphia.

Sayre Beacon. This program operates after school, evenings, Saturdays, and all summer and provides academic, cultural, and recreational activities for the community. Specific programs include an after school program for over 100 students from local elementary and middle schools and Sayre High School during the academic year, family fitness nights offered two evenings per week, and a comprehensive summer program for K-12 school youth.

University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS). The CCP has helped to pioneer university-assisted community schools that function as centers of education, services, engagement and activity for students, their parents, and other community members. Begun in 1985 by Penn and its school and community partners, the UACS program now involves over 5,000 children and youth, parents, and community members each year at its six most intensive sites in West Philadelphia. Additional school day, after school, family and community programming reach several thousand more individuals each year. Through collaboration between school, university, and community partners, each UACS site has a variety of locally determined activities and programs, such as health, environment, arts and culture. Often working in conjunction with the Academically Based Community Service, the programs engage students (K-16+) in real world, hands-on, community problem solving that is integrated into the school curriculum as well as into the extended day, weekend, and summer programs.

Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI). UNI is a multifaceted program that connects undergraduate courses with courses in K-12 schools, creating a K-16 curriculum focused on improving community health. Activities include: food and nutrition lessons integrated within and across the school day curriculum; healthy cooking classes; fruit and vegetable stands; after school and summer job training; farmers’ markets; school-based gardens; and community fitness and health programs. UNI currently receives state funds to work in twenty schools in the district.

The West Philadelphia Improvement Corps (WEPIC). A coalition of University of Pennsylvania undergraduate students formed the Penn West Philadelphia Improvement Corps Student Organization in 1985 to function as a year round student-run community service organization focused on after school programs.

University Assisted Community Schools (UACS) Replication Project. The UACS Replication Project is a national adaptation of Penn’s university-assisted community school model. It has included 23 universities and their school and community partners. It also publishes a journal, Universities and Community Schools, and hosts national conferences on university/school/community collaboration, training workshops, and approximately 50 site visits per year by interested colleagues from across the U.S. and abroad.

Select Other Engagement Initiatives:

Civic House. Civic House is the Penn’s hub for student-led community service and social advocacy work. Civic House promotes mutually beneficial collaborations between the Penn and West Philadelphia communities, and beyond. Through education, community connections, and other resources, Civic House prepares students for responsible and effective civic engagement and leadership.

Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) EOC serves 1,000 West Philadelphia residents each year, age 19 or older. Its primary goal is to motivate participants by reminding them that they can achieve their educational goals regardless of their age, whether they have dropped out of high school or even if they are young mothers. EOC’s one-on-one counseling and motivational seminars coach participants in vital areas such as how to finance higher education, understand the college admissions process, and improve academic skills.

Penn-Big Brothers Big Sisters. The Fox Leadership Program, working in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, has developed one of the largest campus-based mentoring programs in the country. During the 2005-2006 academic year, 181 Penn students served as Big Brothers or Big Sisters to students in schools and community centers in low income neighborhoods of West Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND). PHENND is a consortium of 42 colleges and universities in the greater Philadelphia area. PHENND works to build the capacity of its member institutions to develop mutually beneficial, sustained, and democratic community-based service learning partnerships. The consortium actively seeks to revitalize local communities and schools and foster civic responsibility among the region’s colleges and universities.

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School: The Penn Alexander School is a new university-assisted, public PreK-8 neighborhood school developed and operated by Penn’s Graduate School of Education, which represents an important direction for the University — partnering with the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers — to create a high performing public school. GSE faculty and students are involved in many ways — as student teachers, teachers, tutors, mentors, consultants and researchers, working with teachers from this school and schools throughout the entire Philadelphia school system to improve teaching and learning. The school offers a rigorous academic program in a state-of-the-art facility surrounded by plentiful greenspace as well as a clinical setting for professional growth and development of pre-service and in-service teachers, and implementing best practices in instructional and curricular programs.

West Philadelphia Tutoring Project. Sponsored by Civic House, WPTP serves 14 local K-12 public schools, providing students with individual attention through one-to-one tutoring and mentoring relationships with Penn students and encouraging both academic achievement and increased self-confidence. The WPTP also provides resources for training, reflection and evaluation, offering Penn students an opportunity to enhance their college experience through participation in a meaningful and effective community service program. The WPTP involves approximately 400 students each semester; two-thirds of these students make at least a one-year commitment to the program. In addition to regular tutoring, each tutor has the opportunity to join his or her tutee at organized events on Penn’s campus including Halloween and ice-skating parties in the fall and a picnic in the spring.

Other Curricular Engagement:

The Law School was the first in the nation to establish a mandatory pro bono requirement and the first law school to win the American Bar Associations Pro Bono Publico Award for its Public Service Program. Students must complete 70 hours of non-credit bearing, pro bono work in order to graduate. Penn students work with practicing attorneys in such diverse areas as bankruptcy law, civil rights and constitutional law issues, environmental justice, and women’s issues and youth. The explicit goal of the program is to instill in students a commitment to public service. In 2004, a total of 710 students participated in the program and 71% of the students performed more than the required 70 hours.

The Medical School is initiating a program as part of its required course in doctoring, which pairs each medical student with a West Philadelphia patient. The expectation is that the student will work with this patient for several successive years.

The School of Arts and Sciences adopted a new general education curriculum for fall 2006. The goals of the curriculum are to foster the development of graduates who are “broadly-educated people, who have acquired the knowledge, skills, and inclination that will enable them to embark on a lifetime of learning’ to assume positions of leadership in their chosen careers; to be independent, creative thinkers; to be able to adapt to rapidly-changing circumstances and to become thoughtful, engaged citizens of their community, nation and world.” Under this new curriculum, ABCS courses are able to be used to fulfill some of the distribution requirements.

The School of Dentistry – Each year, approximately 500 dental students are required to take an ABCS course. The School of Dentistry also coordinates PennSmiles, an oral health outreach program that travels to area schools, Head Start programs, and other neighborhood sites. Through classroom instruction and the use of the PennSmiles mobile dental van, faculty and students of the School of Dental Medicine provide oral health education to children as well as parents, dental screenings and referrals for dental care, and dental treatment.

The School of Nursing: Each year, approximately 500 undergraduate nursing students (as well as the majority of Masters students) are required to take courses with clinical components that directly serve the people of West Philadelphia.

The School of Social Policy and Practice: Students enrolled in the full time Masters of Social Work program are required to spend 3 days a week, 21-24 hours/week, in community settings for a total of about 900 hours for the academic year. Part time students are in community settings 2 days a week for about 16 hours/week, August through June, also for about 900 hours (during 2 of their 3 years of the part-time program). Overall, about 250 full-time and part-time students are in community agencies for a total of about 900 hours per year per student.

The Wharton School of Business: All Wharton freshmen (approximately 650 each year) must take Management 100. A distinguishing feature of this course is a community-service project. The goal of the course is to encourage students to learn about the nature of group work, and to foster leadership, teamwork, and communication. The American Association of Higher Education designated the course as “exemplary” for its ability to encourage students to integrate what they are learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

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