PHILADELPHIA -- The University-Assisted Community School Program, developed by the Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, has won the first Youth Development Award from the William T. Grant Foundation. The Program includes the Philadelphia School District's West Region and the West Philadelphia Partnership.
The National Academies' Board on Children, Youth and Families oversaw the nomination process and selected the winner from almost 300 entries. The Foundation created the $100,000 prize to recognize high-quality organizational work to improve children's lives.
"This magnificent award is testimony to the enormous potential of university-community-school partnerships and problem-focused research to improve both the quality of life and the quality of scholarship and learning of children in our community," said Penn President Judith Rodin.
"We could not be more delighted that the University-Assisted Community Schools Program has been selected for this award," said Ira Harkavy, director of the Center for Community Partnerships. "It recognizes the success of the collaborative work of our faculty and students and their school and community partners to increase opportunities for young people in West Philadelphia and to generate knowledge."
The Program focuses on solving community problems in areas including environmental health, health and nutrition and literacy. Penn faculty members William Labov, Frank Johnston and Robert Giegengack of the School of Arts and Sciences and their students have developed multi-year projects focused primarily on these areas.
For example, the programs have successfully reduced exposure to lead paint through preventive instruction and improved the nutrition of neighborhood children by creating produce stands, community gardens and farmers markets. In addition, a cultural reading program has helped solve some common reading problems within the African-American community.
The National Academies provide science, engineering and medical advice to the federal government under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.