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. The Netter Center is based on three core propositions:
- Penn’s future and the future of West Philadelphia/Philadelphia are intertwined.
- Penn can make a significant contribution to improving the quality of life in West Philadelphia/Philadelphia.
- Penn can enhance its overall mission of advancing and transmitting knowledge by helping to improve the quality of life in West Philadelphia/Philadelphia.
Three key strategies underpin our work. The first is academically based community service (ABCS), service rooted in and intrinsically connected to research, teaching, and learning. The second is university-assisted community schools (UACS), which educate, engage, empower, and serve not only students, but also all other members of the community, providing an organizing framework for bringing our programs, including ABCS courses, to West Philadelphia schools. Third, we view ABCS and UACS as core to a comprehensive anchor institution strategy in which universities engage in sustained, mutually beneficial partnerships with their communities. These strategies are shared with others across the country and around the world, serving as a model for democratic university-community engagement.