PHILADELPHIA â The School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania has launched SP2 Community Teamworks, a pilot program that involves local engagement as well as team-building through volunteer projects.
Modeled after Goldman Sachâs Community Teamworks in New York City, School of Social Policy & Practice students, faculty, staff and alumni provide suggestions for and participate in local volunteer opportunities.
âCommunity Teamworks enables students from our five degree programs to work alongside faculty, staff and alumni on projects that will have a positive impact on organizations and agencies throughout the city,â Richard J. Gelles, the Schoolâs dean, said. âOur students already contribute more than 250,000 service hours each year across the region through internships, practicums and field placements, but, as proactive agents of social change, we believe that there is always more than can be done.â
Community Teamworks organizers, including its director, Ashley Mapp, have already coordinated with West Philadelphia residents to learn the communityâs needs.
âRecurring themes emerged in most of our community meetings,â Mapp said. âThese included disparities in education, the need for college access, numerous abandoned homes and the limited availability of extracurricular activities for children. Now that we have this information, we are able to shape our program so that it can be the most effective.â
Gelles said the projectâs goals are two-fold.
âOne, everyone involved with the School of Social Policy & Practice will be able to make sustainable improvements that will continue long after the day of service has been completed. And, two, Community Teamworks is a meaningful way to build a stronger community within the School itself. Itâs not often that students in our Penn Aging Concentration program are able to work side-by-side with students from our Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organization Leadership program to better our neighborhoods.â
School of Social Policy & Practice students, staff, faculty and alumni, along with local agencies, nominated 501c(3) non-profit organizations in Philadelphia using the Schoolâs online Project Proposal Form.
Nominees were required to be able to host at least 20 volunteers at their facility or project site and to have at least two employees at their site available to volunteer during the day of service activities, which will be completed between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. for three days during March and April.
Later this month, a committee of students, faculty, staff and local residents will select three projects from the submitted proposals. The committee will review each nomination to determine how the School can maximize its efforts and make the largest possible impact.
Non-profit organizations selected to participate in Community Teamworks will be notified in late February.
The plan is to start small with three projects for the spring semester involving only people affiliated with the School of Social Policy & Practice, but School administrators are optimistic that the program will eventually expand to include other schools and programs across Penn.
âCommunity Teamworks is another initiative from the School of Social Policy & Practice designed to illustrate our commitment to working with our neighbors,â Mapp said.