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Drexel University and Philadelphia Partner in Major Greening Initiative

April 18, 2011

Drexel University and the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation are embarking on a multi-faceted partnership aimed at greening the West Philadelphia community surrounding Drexel University. Participating in the announcement on April 18, on the University’s campus, were Mayor Michael A. Nutter; John A. Fry, President, Drexel University; Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources; Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, 3rd District; and Rick Young, President and CEO, Mantua Community Improvement Committee.

The collaboration supports Mayor Nutter’s Greenworks Philadelphia plan, which includes planting 300,000 new trees by 2015, and capitalizes on the University’s resources and academic expertise to significantly impact neighborhoods in West Philadelphia and beyond. Program elements include the greening of several playgrounds in the Mantua section of the City, the giveaway of 200 trees to Drexel employees living in Philadelphia, and the creation of new storm water treatment systems for local parks and playgrounds, designed and implemented by the University’s environmental engineering students.

“Thank you to Drexel University for your continued leadership toward sustainability, and for your commitment to a comprehensive greening and community partnership,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said. “With partners like Drexel, Philadelphia is set apart from other urban areas as we work together to become the greenest city in America.”

“Drexel is very proud to collaborate with the City of Philadelphia in this effort,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “We take very seriously our responsibility to be a good neighbor, and this initiative, in particular, allows us to leverage all of the University’s strengths to positively impact our community. It’s a perfect fit – aligning seamlessly with our vision for Drexel to be the most civically engaged university in the nation across all three dimensions of engagement – academic, student and employee volunteerism, and institutionally supported neighborhood investment.”

Program activities will launch on April 30, 2011 at the University’s first official “Greening Day,” when 100 Drexel students, alumni, and employees join representatives from UC Green and the Mantua Community Improvement Committee, and Mantua residents, to transform Miles Mack Playground. The corps will perform a complete cleanup of the playground, located at 36th and Aspen Streets in the heart of Mantua, and will plant 30 new trees. Two more “Greening Days” will occur at other playgrounds in the Mantua community in the coming months.

In addition to planting trees in these three public green spaces, Drexel professional staff and faculty living in Philadelphia can sign up to receive free trees to plant on their properties. The University will give away 200 trees, accompanied by a “planting and caring” training session. Sign-ups for the free trees will begin on April 18, with distribution planned for June 4, 2011.

Perhaps most notably, Drexel will lend its academic expertise in environmental engineering to the greening partnership. Through a series of coursework this year, students enrolled in the University’s College of Engineering will be tasked with surveying playground sites in Mantua, and developing effective designs to manage the storm water treatment systems at those sites. The students’ designs will also serve as templates for the City to implement storm water treatment systems in other green spaces across Philadelphia.

“Drexel is fortunate to be in a position where we can provide valuable resources to the community, and to be able to do so while providing unique learning experiences for our students makes for a powerful combination,” said Fry. “We look forward to a long and sustainable partnership with the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation.”

Fry recently signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, validating Drexel’s pledge to eliminate its carbon footprint, promote research and educational efforts, and equip the University to contribute in stabilizing the earth’s climate. This year, Drexel, for the first time, was included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Top 50 list of the largest green power purchasers. The University was also recognized by PennFuture, a leading Pennsylvania environmental advocacy organization, for becoming the first institution in the country to deploy Viridity Energy’s VPower System™, an energy monitoring system at its University City Main Campus.

Founded in 1891, Drexel is the nation’s 14th largest private university and is ranked second among national universities in the U.S. News list of “Up-and-Comers.” Drexel is widely recognized for its focus on experiential learning through its co-operative education program, technology and use-inspired research.

To register for a tree, visit


Photo Caption (left to right): Mario the Dragon, Mayor Michael Nutter, Vice President for Human Resources Deborah Glenn, Drexel President John A. Fry, President and CEO of the Mantua Community Improvement Committee Rick Young and Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell.

News media contacts:

Niki Gianakaris, Director, Drexel News Bureau, 215-778-7752 or
Patrick Morgan, Office of the Deputy Mayor/Parks & Recreation Commissioner, 267-438-7154 or

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