Tag Archives: Netter Center

Penn 1993 Continues Tradition of Community Service

By Lisa Nass Grabelle, C’93, L’96, and Kiera Reilly, C’93

Class of ’93 members have been rockstars when it comes to community service and giving back! The past five years as a class we have collectively worked to do good in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York.  What started out five years ago as just one month of service for our class in January, quickly extended to our three months of service every January, February and March! Not only do classmates gather in cities to perform community service, but we have had classmates from all over tell us about service projects they have performed in their own communities during this period.

For five years we have gathered at Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships and made crafts to donate to children at CHOP and senior citizens.  Families of all ages have colored “get well” cards, created soft blankets, painted uplifting pictures, assembled goodie bags, made colorful tutus, and much more.  We have laughed, shared stories, been able to get to know each other better…all while making a difference in our community. Last year’s event at the Netter Center is summarized in this post.
Penn 1993 Community Service Day at the Netter Center - whole group photo
Each February, Penn ‘93ers in New York participate in a skill-based volunteering event in partnership with PennPAC – Penn Pro bono Alumni Consulting (founded by classmate Jackie Einstein Astrof).  Over the years, the activities have included assisting low-income high school seniors with college and career advice and assisting highly-skilled new immigrants transition to the US workforce through mock interviews.  The evenings prove to be very rewarding as well as enjoyable for both the recipients and our classmates alike. Read about our event last year here.
Penn Class of 1993 members at the PennPac community service event in NYC, February, 2017

Penn 1993 classmates at the PennPAC event in New York City

And for the past five years, our classmates have volunteered their time with Penn Serves LA (classmate Kiera Reilly is on the Penn Serves LA planning committee) at various events throughout Los Angeles. Clasmates participated at the Midnight Mission by preparing meals for the homeless, serving Thanksgiving Dinner in downtown LA, and preparing a dinner for the Guadalupe Homeless Shelter in February.
Penn Serves LA Fred Jordan Missions Thanksgiving Dinner

Penn Serves LA (and members of Penn Class of 1993) serve Thanksgiving Dinner to the homeless in downtown LA with the Fred Jordan Missions

In addition to the off-campus service we perform every year, we encourage classmates to participate in service activities during Alumni Weekend.


All Year Alumni Community Service Project – Book Drive
May 11, 2018 to May 13, 2018
This May when you come back to alumni weekend you have two options to contribute to our Class Community Literacy Service Project.  We are supporting Bags of Books and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships by donating new and gently used children’s books (pre-K to 12).  Each book donated will be provided to a student in West Philadelphia at a Netter Center supported school.
It’s so easy to donate:
  1. Either drop by the Penn bookstore, grab a children’s book on display right when you check out that is waiting to be purchased and add it to your purchase (give it to the cashier and say it is for donation)  ~OR~
  2. Bring books with you to donate at the Sweeten Alumni House (right across from the LOVE statute).
 Every book counts!!!


The Netter Center 25th Anniversary
Saturday, May 12
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Children’s Basketball Skills & Drills Clinic
David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, 3701 Walnut Street
Anthony Price, captain of Penn Men’s 1979 Final Four basketball team and founder of Paying the Price Foundation, partners with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to host this Basketball Clinic for children of Penn alumni and West Philadelphia youth (ages 8-18). Proceeds from this event help support sports programming at West Philly schools operated by the Netter Center. Sponsored by the Netter Center, Class of 1978, and Penn’s 1979 Basketball Team. Cost: $15 For questions, please contact Rita Hodges at ritaa@upenn.edu.
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
The Netter Center for Community Partnerships: 25 Years of Educating Penn Students as Civic Leaders 
Inn at Penn
Co-Sponsored by the Class of 1993
Hear from Provost Wendell Pritchett (GR’97), Netter Center founding director Ira Harkavy (C’70, GR’79), and Netter Center alumni about the lasting impact of civic and community engagement. Light reception to follow celebrating the Center’s 25th anniversary.

Register for these events on the Alumni Weekend website.


One of our class’ chosen projects to support in honor of our 25th Reunion is The Netter Center, a fitting tribute since the Netter Center is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary this year and because we have participated in service events there for the past five years.
Join us in making a gift to the Penn Fund in honor of our reunion. Your support of the Penn Fund will go towards our class gifts—funding the Class of 1993 Netter Center for Community Partnerships Internship and growing our Class of 1993 Endowed Scholarship Fund. Both of these priorities celebrate the undergraduate experience by making a current or future Quaker’s Penn experience possible, and offering opportunities for students to learn and engage. Furthermore, your gift (of any size) will help our class break the 25th reunion and all-time record of 1,047 donors!


Read more about the Netter Center in this recent Frankly Penn post.

As you can see, there are many ways to offer service to our community, and our class is committed every year to gathering together to offer our time, talent and treasure. We hope you will consider attending a Netter Center event, donating a book or making a donation to The Penn Fund during Alumni Weekend.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion #93tothe25th

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of March 16 – 17, marked 8 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! Meet us at the Button!

Register NOW to attend our 25th Reunion!

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  • Donate to The Penn Fund in honor of our reunion! We want to break the 25th reunion participation giving record and every gift matters!
  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Book your hotel room or AirBnB now! See our class website for details.



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Filed under 25th Reunion, Class of 1993, Kiera R., Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Reaching Out to West Philadelphia: The Work of the Netter Center and Penn in the Neighborhood

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House


Source: Netter Center Collection

Since the second half of the 19th century with the move of the university from the 9th and Market/ Chestnut region, the University of Pennsylvania has shared a common land with the community of West Philadelphia. Though our geographical neighbor, learning and venturing out into the community is not traditionally prioritized by the average Penn student who tends to stay within the university limits. But, though the average Penn student doesn’t explore the neighborhood as much, this does not mean that Penn is isolated from West Philadelphia. There are various departments, centers and individuals who work directly with West Philadelphia, and one in particular that has led noteworthy efforts in engaging Penn in West Philadelphia has been the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.

The Netter Center was formally opened as the Center for Community Partnerships in 1992, but the efforts for community partnerships had been established a few years prior. In 1983, Penn’s Office of Community-Oriented Policy Studies was created to help connect institutional initiatives with West Philadelphia, including through the West Philadelphia Partnership. Two years later in 1985, the idea of academically based community service (ABCS) began when Penn students presented a research proposal for a summer job training corps for West Philadelphia youth as part of their honors seminar class taught by Ira Harkavy and Lee Benson. Soon after, the official center would be established to create and manage projects and programs that saw various individuals, particularly Penn students and faculty, mutually engage with West Philadelphia. Nowadays, the Netter Center, under founding director Ira Harkavy’s (C’70, GR’79) leadership, runs numerous programs throughout the academic and summer terms with programs like the aforementioned ABCS courses, traditional service programs, and community development initiatives, as outlined on their website.

With this general background in mind, one can begin to explore the opportunities and services that the center offers to the average student and even to alumni. In order to learn even more about the center, we reached out to the current assistant director, Rita Hodges (C’05, GED’15), to learn from a representative of the center, and after a short conversation, many services, programs, and initiatives were highlighted that exemplify the mission of the center. As an assistant director and former undergraduate student involved in the center, the insight the conversation provided was helpful in understanding these projects. First and foremost, as assistant director, Hodges does quite a bit at the center which includes supporting the internal operations of the center, overseeing marketing and communication, working with development and alumni operations, and working closely with the director and associate director on replication outreach activities. One interesting project that the center is working on would have to be the replication outreach initiatives which sees the center participate in the creation of a network of colleges and universities around the nation that are improving relations with their local neighborhoods through conferences, workshops, and continued partnership. The center additionally engages in helping establish regional training centers on university-assisted community schools and has recently worked to establish one at UCLA.


Source: Netter Center Collection

Outside of this position, other services the center offers include ABCS courses, averaging about 70 per year in 30 different departments, internships, work and volunteer opportunities, and extensive work in local schools to help create centers that benefit the local population, both local students and parents through its university-assisted community schools program. There are mentoring and tutoring programs, STEM related programs, that help expose students to STEM fields through lessons and activities run by Penn undergraduate and graduate students, and programs focused on literacy, health and nutrition, arts and culture, college access, career readiness, sports and basically anything you can think of! The opportunities, however, are not just for current students as the alumni network and opportunities are just as substantial. The center maintains a relationship with alumni by running various events such as volunteering during alumni weekend or class reunions. Many Netter Center alumni maintain a solid relationship with the center by coming back for events like panels and volunteering. One event that the center helps run is the Basketball Clinic that sees alumni, their children, local children and Penn’s basketball players from the 1979 Final Four Team come together to play basketball for a day. The diversity of events and services offered clearly extends much farther than one can imagine.

With all of this in mind, the question arises as to how the relationship between the two has changed over time. Through a long history, the relationship between the neighborhood and the institution, while not always perfect, has definitely improved. Various departments, besides the Netter Center, have engaged with the community. In particular, one department that stands out is Penn Athletics who has been partnering with neighborhood schools to help students learn and participate in sports like track & field and lacrosse through the Young Quakers Community Athletics program that it runs in partnership with the Netter Center. After speaking with Assistant Director Hodges, it was made clear that President Amy Gutmann has made it a priority in her presidency to engage the community more in a mutually beneficial way, not only through academic partnerships with Penn students and faculty, but also by overseeing various initiatives on the business side of things such as working on economic inclusion and helping small businesses. Ultimately, while the relationship has definitely improved and seems to be heading in a much better direction, there is still so much work to be done between the neighborhood and the institution. There are still ties to develop between Penn and local schools and increased interaction between students and residents through pathways like ABCS courses. The work will continue as the relationship between Penn and West Philadelphia becomes even more mutually beneficial, allowing Penn to be a support institution for the neighborhood while it enhances its own research, teaching, learning, and service.

Ultimately, as mentioned above, the history of Penn and West Philadelphia could fill an entire book and this post is too short to do it justice, but the takeaway is hopefully one of awareness. As they celebrate their 25th anniversary, the work of the Netter Center has been developing and strengthening ties between the neighbors, and their work should be highlighted in order to hopefully allow more people, students, and alumni, to participate in the variety of programs they offer and to continue developing that connection.

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The Class of 1993’s Annual Community Service Day at the Netter Center (65 Weeks To Go)

By Lisa Bardfeld Shapiro, C’93 and Natalie Taub Cutler, W’93

On February 4, 2017, the Penn Class of ’93 annual service project was held at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships on campus. Our class president Lisa Nass Grabelle started this great tradition four years ago and has organized it every year since then. Isabel Sampson-Mapp, Associate Director at Netter, led us in creating goodies for various groups in Philadelphia.

We made tutus for a day care center in West Philly, bracelets and Valentine cards for kids at CHOP and bags and pillows for a senior center in North Philly.

This year we were joined by other alumni classes as well. We had a great time with our families and friends!

Penn Class of 1993 annual community service day at the Netter Center

Classmates Rebecca Schaefer Rizzo, C’93, and Natalie Taub Cutler, W’93, work on bracelets and Valentine cards for patients at CHOP along with Tracey Newcomer Malick, C’88, and Natalie’s daughter Michelle.


Penn Class of 1993 Annual Community Service Day at the Netter Center making tutus

Miriam Stern, MSW’95, makes tutus with the girls for patients at CHOP.

Penn 1993 Community Service day at the Netter Center

Isabel Sampson-Mapp instructs the boys on painting a moonscape on bags and pillow covers for seniors in North Philly.





Penn 1993 Community Service Day at the Netter Center - whole group photo

The whole gang showing off the results of an afternoon of giving back!

What is especially nice about this class activity is that it was family friendly! How nice to see classmates and fellow Pennsylvanians together with their children serving the Penn community!

About the Netter Center

Founded in 1992, the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships is Penn’s primary vehicle for bringing to bear the broad range of human knowledge needed to solve the complex, comprehensive, and interconnected problems of the American city so that West Philadelphia (Penn’s local geographic community), Philadelphia, the University itself, and society benefit. Interested in helping? Find out here how alumni can get involved.

Penn Class of 1993 Reunion Countdown

February 10-11, 2017, marked 65 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 13, 2018)! Think we skipped week 66? We jumped ahead to post about that a few weeks ago. Our 66th week post is here (about the Palestra) and our 67th week post is here (about course registration).

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Class of 1993, Guest blogger, Volunteering