Partnerships and Projects: Drexel’s Recent Industry and Civic Engagement Connections

A blue graphic showing hands shaking

Last term, Drexel University — through its colleges, schools and other units and programs — created a variety of new opportunities for industry and local partnerships as well as civic engagement. This update offers a snapshot of activity courtesy of the Office of the Provost. 

Key Partnerships

The West Philadelphia Action for Early Learning Initiative (AFEL) received a grant from the PNC Foundation, Grow Up Great, for $99,581 to support the ongoing Summer Kindergarten Bridge Program and expanded Kindergarten Readiness Outreach in 2024.

The College of Computing & Informatics’ Corporate Partners Program is a vital component of the College’s innovative and collaborative ecosystem to bolster the development, recruitment and retention of top tech talent. New corporate partnerships include Lula Convenience, Dynasty 11 Studios, Product Savvy Consulting, Apollo, Eigen X LLC; and Benefits Data Trust.

The ExCITe Center’s Digital Navigators completed phone outreach to 1600 households to inform them of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program for low-cost broadband. Comcast donated 50 laptops to the North Star Digital Inclusion efforts at the Beachell Family Learning Center. The Beachell team was awarded a $60,000 grant from the City's Office of Children and Families to expand digital inclusion efforts. 

The College of Arts and Sciences partnered with the Science History Institute to host “Start Talking Science,” a free public event where STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) researchers present nontechnical posters to the Philadelphia community.

The College of Engineering is tapping its strength in electric power, energy systems and industry partnerships to develop talent at Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, through a new Power Systems Graduate Certificate program. The rigorous curriculum was designed by Drexel engineering faculty, led by Karen Miu, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering, in partnership with representatives from BGE, to meet the specific needs of the company. It includes advanced coursework in power system analysis, protective relaying, distribution systems, automation and control, and integrating renewables and distributed energy resources onto the grid.

The College of Engineering’s Academic Equivalency agreement with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) has been renewed and expanded to include additional courses as equivalent to the certification knowledge exam, satisfying one of the requirements toward Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP) and Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) certification.

Drexel Global has added new student exchange partnerships at the University of Otago and University of Auckland in New Zealand and International University of Monaco in Monaco —adding additional destinations for Drexel students for enhanced global educational opportunities.

As part of its Teagle-funded civic foundations course series, the Pennoni Honors Program has created strategic internal partnerships allowing students to achieve University core requirements while also taking part in the specialized civic education curriculum. It partnered with the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement to offer special Honors sections of CIVC 101 and the English and Philosophy Department/First-Year Writing Program to offer special Honors sections of ENGL 103.

Jeffrey Stanley, visiting assistant professor of screenwriting & playwriting in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, has co-created and will co-administer the short play contest “SULTANS AND SOLDIERS: How Two Indian Muslim Kings Energized the US Revolutionary War.” The contest is a collaboration between Stanley and the Bangalore Little Theatre in India and is open to undergraduate students at Drexel.

The B-Smart small business training program concluded its 10th cohort, with nine businesses and 10 entrepreneurs, in early November. There were over 100 attendees at the Pitch and Present event on Nov. 2 where B-Smart graduates were awarded $12,000 in grants and $7,000 in loans. The Beachell Family Learning Center offered a successful career workshop in partnership with ShopRite. During the event, 57 of the 60 attendees received interviews onsite. 

For Drexel’s Kelly Hall renovation project, Hunter Roberts, Drexel and ACC have disbursed a total of $4.5 million to minority-, woman- or disabled- owned businesses, out of $26.4 million subcontractor direct costs — or 17 percent — specifically 13 percent to minority-owned and 4 percent to woman-owned businesses for the entire project. The workforce for the project included 34 percent local residents (from among 191 local zip codes) and 3 percent area residents (from among 19131, 19151, 19142, 19139, 19142, 19153).

Key Civic Engagements

This fall, the Lindy Scholars Program offered after-school club opportunities with four of Drexel’s partner schools. The Drexel Gaming Association offered an esports program for McMichael students at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Drexel Graduate Women in Science and Engineering offered a science club at Alain Locke, Drexel Sport Business Association ran a sports business club at Belmont Middle School and Raptor Robotics ran a robotics program with SLA-MS.

Students and faculty from the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, and the College of Nursing and Health Professions volunteered at the Science Leadership Academy Middle School, teaching mini courses every Wednesday afternoon to students in fifth through eighth grade on the topics of health professional careers and the health sciences.

This fall, monthly Dornsife Community Dinners welcomed 300–400 attendees. A special program in October celebrated local members of the Tuskegee Airmen, in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Chapter. This past summer and fall, the Promise Neighborhood reimagined the Promise Village, an outreach program that coordinates partners’ participation in local community days and other festivals organized by community organizations. This year, the Office of University and Community Partnerships invited internal Drexel partners to be visible in the communities Drexel serves, including: College of Medicine, Drexel Medicine/Smoking Cessation, Beachell Family Learning Center, Public Safety, College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Lazarex Cancer Wellness HUB and Digital Navigators. Drexel was visible at community events including HopePHL Men’s Community Day, 16th District/Mount Vernon Manor Community Day, Drexel Public Safety National Night Out, Mill Creek Community Day, West Belmont Community Day and Philadelphia Zoo Community Night.

Drexel Public Safety held its Public Safety Day on Oct. 4 at the Dornsife Center. Over 200 individuals (children and families) filled the lawn for the opportunity to paint pumpkins and canvases, play lawn games with police and enjoy snacks.

The Promise Neighborhood facilitated an ongoing relationship between Alain Locke School and the Drexel Athletics Department: the two came together on Oct. 30 for the third annual Vidas Field Day. Over 300 students from Alain Locke joined Drexel athletes and coaches for lunch and an afternoon of play on the Vidas Field, with Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee addressing the crowd. Each student received an autographed copy of her book.

Rising high school seniors from historically excluded communities participated in a daylong program on campus as part of the Wohlreich Junior Fellows Program. Doctor of Physical Therapy students from the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Dismantling Health Disparities committee organized a tour of the Health Sciences Building and activities in the research, simulation and anatomy labs. The afternoon included a student panel during lunch and a review of a case study with DPT students.

Students from the College of Medicine’s MD program and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, as well as faculty and professional staff, volunteered at Esperanza College of Eastern University on Oct. 13 for an event called “Minorities in Health Sciences Symposium.” During the event, Drexel students participated in panels for high school students, sharing their experiences as minorities in health care and research, and performed hands-on activities with attendees.

Rachel López, JD, director of the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic and associate professor of law in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, started the Participatory Law Fund (PLF) devoted to supporting the production of an emergent genre of legal scholarship called “participatory law scholarship” (PLS). PLS is legal scholarship written in collaboration with authors who have no formal training in the law, but rather expertise in its function and dysfunction through lived experience.

An Intensive Course Abroad course to Tanzania (Drexel Fall Break in Tanzania: Culture & Community Development) was featured on Tanzanian national news after a collaboration project with Drexel Mandela Washington Fellow’s non-profit organization “MED (Medicine, Education, Development) LIFE” installed a computer lab in an under-resourced school, which resulted in additional commitment from the local government to further improve the school’s facilities and resources.

The Lindy Center for Civic Engagement hosted its fall Community-Engaged Learning Instructor training in partnership with Lindy Center faculty fellows, Norris Square Neighborhood Partnerships, a community co-facilitator and Drexel’s Teaching and Learning Center. This fall, 12 community-engaged learning courses were offered in the Drexel course catalog. The Lindy Center, in partnership with the Kline School of Law, Community Lawyering Clinic and Undergraduate Law Program, hired a part-time Coordinator for Community-Engaged Learning, a long-term resident of West Philadelphia and long-time facilitator of Drexel Community-Engaged Learning training sessions from a community perspective.

The Drexel AmeriCorps Nonprofit Co-op Corps program completed its first year, with members collectively dedicating over 16,000 hours to direct service. The Corps began its second year of service in October for the fall-winter season.

Writers Room’s 10th season of public programming, courses and community-driven research kicked off this fall, with Second Tuesdays writing workshops and the “Writers Room Experience – WRIT 290” course. The TRIPOD intergenerational writing and photography program is in its seventh year as Canon Solutions America has continued their sponsorship for 2023–24; a new cohort of Drexel and Paul Robeson High School students as well as alumni and older neighborhood residents launched in October. The UnMapping three-year project celebrating and advancing the role of literature and story in truth-telling and social change launched in September; five Drexel faculty members across the University (College of Arts and Sciences, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Kline School of Law and the Lindy Center) and their community co-instructors are developing and offering courses available to students and community members. Work is continuing with the “Placekeeping: A Co-designed Model for Intergenerational Co-housing and Coalition Building in a University-Adjacent Community” project.