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West Philly and Penn Community Service

February 13, 2014

atlas1872hopkins_indexmap600Beyond the Penn bubble lies a lively community filled with a great extent of history–West Philadelphia. However, West Philadelphia also possesses an abundance of poverty that continues to be perpetuated into the community for a number of historical reasons. In 2012, the homicide rate was raised by 10%, and as of late, the high school graduation rate for Philadelphia is more than 10% less than the National average. The employment rate has decreased by nearly 10% since 2004, according to the PEW Trust census.

West Philadelphia’s conditions prompt several efforts on Penn’s part to take steps that contribute to the community. There are hubs such as Civic House and Netter Center that promote student led-community service through programs like CSSP and the Penn Corp pre-orientation program. Additionally, there are organizations within the Black community that are making strides to contribute to West Philadelphia’s improvement.

The Black Greek systems on Penn’s campus are dedicated to supporting local communities through outreach and community activist programs. Last fall, the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. volunteered at the Hillel soup kitchen and hosted a street clean up project in Germantown. The Penn African Student Association (PASA) facilitates a program, known as Timba, which matches PASA members with an immigrant student in the West Philadelphia community, and provide them with mentoring, tutoring, and any social and academic support these students might need.

The Black Student League hosts an internal undergraduate mentor and mentee program at Penn where upperclassmen serve as mentors for BSL freshmen. As of late, the organization has been working on a partnership with Powell Elementary School where BSL members go to second and third grade classrooms and assists the students with their school work.Ase is a summer program where middle school and high school students from the surrounding community visit Penn’s campus and receive mentoring and tutoring from undergraduate volunteers. Every Saturday, the students get an opportunity to engage in activities that further their academic and social interests.

Getting involved in organizations within the Black community is not only a way for students to be immersed in a familiar and comfortable setting, but also a way for them to immerse themselves in the communities surrounding Penn in an impactful way.

Toluwaloshe Ayo-Ariyo CAS’17

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