University City District, a coalition of anchor institutions, small businesses, and residents focused on improving economic opportunities and quality of life in the University City area of West Philadelphia, has announced a $5 million grant from the Lenfest Foundation.
The three-year grant to UCD, the University City Science Center, and Drexel University will support efforts to train and place unemployed West Philadelphia residents in family-sustaining jobs while equipping the community's workforce with the skills and certifications needed for the jobs of the future. Through UCD's West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, the partners will work to connect nearly six hundred previously unemployed residents to careers over three years, resulting in over $16 million in wages generated in and for the community. In addition, more than two hundred adults and high school students will acquire credentials, certifications, and exposure to STEM careers, setting them on a meaningful path to employment.
With funds from the grant, the University City Science Center will expand its nationally recognized FirstHand program, which helps introduce local high-school students to STEM-related careers and will work with UCD to train and place local residents at the many science and tech companies that are moving into the area, while Drexel will expand its efforts to train residents for specific jobs across the university and enhance adult education programming and credentialing at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.
"University City is at a unique moment of economic possibility. How we connect talented West Philadelphians to the opportunities afforded by growth will shape the future of our community as much as the buildings rising along our skyline," said UCD president Matt Bergheiser. "We are grateful to the Lenfest Foundation for its transformative investment. We look forward to working with long-standing partners through the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to close the opportunity gap in West Philadelphia."