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Penn’s Local Commitment

Penn’s Local Commitment

Being fully committed to the principle that universities should serve as leading contributors to the local and regional communities to which they belong, 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. Penn has committed significant financial resources to sustaining the local economy and neighborhood culture by purchasing more than $85.7 million in products and services from community businesses this fiscal year, with $69.9 million going to diversity-owned suppliers. But more significant than the financial resources are the human resources involved in Penn’s engagement with the community.

Local Impact FY09

   
$698,000 Contribution to Philadelphia School District for Penn Alexander students
$2.4M Contribution to University City District
$12M Student aid to Philadelphia residents enrolled at Penn
$91M Wages and other taxes paid to City of Philadelphia

At Penn, local engagement is one of the core tenets of the Penn Compact – Penn’s strategic vision for moving from excellence to eminence – and is an integral part of the University’s mission. Students and faculty from across Penn’s 12 schools integrate classroom learning with community service in a way that distinguishes Penn as both a world-class teaching and research institution and a good neighbor. In 2009, Penn was ranked as the “Best Neighbor” in the country by the National Saviors of Our Cities: Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships for its community involvement in economic, social and cultural issues.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Recognizing that students learn best by doing, Penn has woven service learning into the curriculum through Academically Based Community Service courses (ABCS) that merge coursework with mandatory fieldwork in the local community. In addition, students, faculty and staff donate thousands of volunteer hours to public service in West Philadelphia.

yardThrough activities that range from tutoring and mentoring neighborhood school children to upgrading local business technology and creating wider access to vital health care, Penn has shown that building a collaborative and mutually respectful relationship with its neighbors benefits everyone involved. By working alongside community leaders, civic organizations and neighborhood families to solve real-world problems, Penn students and faculty apply their intellectual skills to make positive social change. The following pages illustrate the wide variety of curricular programs and non-curricular volunteer programs undertaken by the Penn community with the goal of improving the health, education and welfare of the citizens of Philadelphia.

Through its service to the community, Penn pays homage to the principles of its founder, Benjamin Franklin, who rightly believed that the destiny of an eminent University is inextricably tied to the well being of the people it serves.

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A key pillar of Penn’s West Philadelphia Initiatives is improving the quality of housing and encouraging homeownership. Penn’s campus borders on tree-lined residential neighborhoods that include prewar apartment buildings, brick row houses, ornate Victorian twins and grand single-family homes.