A Promise and an Opportunity

Theodore Brandon, a student in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, has long enjoyed helping others, assisting the elderly and volunteering at church.

He began his academic journey at the Community College of Philadelphia, but was unsure how to translate his desire to help others into academic practice—until he discovered a unique program called Pipeline for Promise.

The program, which is run by the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and made possible by Claire Lomax C ’84 and the Lomax Family Foundation, reaches out to minority students from community colleges in the area, offering free courses at the school during the summer months. The students learn about social work as a profession, time management, fiscal responsibility, and other life skills that extend beyond the classroom.

Now in its eighth year, Pipeline for Promise has enrolled 11 students for 2014 and each student has agreed to continue participating for three consecutive summers. This is their second year participating in the three-year program.

When he enrolled in the Pipeline for Promise program, Brandon was initially interested in a criminal justice career, following in the footsteps of his parents who are both retired police officers. In the program, Brandon learned that he could build on that legacy and pursue a social work career rooted in criminal justice—specifically, working one-on-one with incarcerated people in order to break the cycle of recidivism.

Brandon is the first student to complete the Pipeline for Promise initiative; last fall, he started as a student at SP2, and is pursuing a master’s degree in social work. In the fall of 2014, as a second-year MSW student, Brandon will be a part of the Goldring Reentry Initiative, a field placement opportunity that allows students to work with people who are transitioning out of the prison system.

Over the course of six months, Brandon will help clients to make a successful re-entry back into society by referring them to appropriate community agencies.

Slated to graduate in May 2015, Brandon is optimistic about his future.

Text by Jill DiSanto
Video by Rebecca Abboud and Chip Murphy