To provide a meaningful look at a small sampling of Penn Medicine's community service, here are some of the programs in which Penn staff, faculty, and students participate and make a difference.

Abramson Cancer Center Science Meets the Community

At Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, we are continuously exploring ways to bring health programs to the community and to translate clinical trials into medicine.

Board Membership

Many members of Penn Medicine volunteer their time and expertise by sitting on boards of many different community non-profit organizations. The list below provides just a small sampling of some of these boards.

  • Aid for Friends
  • American Diabetes Association
  • Community Volunteers in Medicine
  • Gift of Life
  • La Comunidad Hispana
  • Maternity Care Coalition of Philadelphia
  • Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance
  • RJ Leonard Foundation
  • The Youth Alliance
  • Veterans Health Administration
  • Women Against Multiple Sclerosis
  • WXPN
  • Yardley United Methodist Church

Center for Public Health Initiatives

The University of Pennsylvania's Center for Public Health Initiatives' mission is to educate and train public health leaders and practitioners, foster multi-disciplinary collaboration, and promote excellence in public health research and community partnerships. To achieve this mission, we:

  • Enhance public health visibility and focus, and provide an institutional home for public health in the University
  • Support and foster growth of our world-class, multidisciplinary Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program
  • Provide high quality learning opportunities, seminars and institutes for students, faculty, alumni, and practitioners
  • Foster the application of evidence-based approaches and experiences in public health, emphasizing translation of science into sustainable health improvements in communities
  • Facilitate collaboration for public health related research, involving faculty in multiple existing centers, institutes, and departments across the university

Center for Public Health Initiatives

Charity Events

Global Health Initiatives

The goals of Penn's Center for Global Health Initiatives include:

  • Placing Penn medical students in international rotations, and hosting international medical students at Penn.
  • Facilitation of international research initiatives and sponsored programs undertaken by faculty of the School of Medicine.
  • Coordination of global activities with other schools of the University and the Office of the Provost.
  • Provision of information for faculty, students, and administration.
  • Representation of the School of Medicine in interactions with international institutions.

Global Health Website

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Nursing Community Outreach

Responding to the community's call for help, HUP nurses routinely conduct screenings and converse with community members on their health. This can happen at an array of venues. Most notable are the Odunde Summer Festival and LIFE Sounds of West Philadelphia.

Pam Mack Brooks

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community Outreach

In 2012, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PLM) started the PLM Activities Committee. One goal is to create opportunities empowering faculty and staff to give back to the local community. There have been an array of organizations the committee has partnered with, however the most notable contributions have been made to MANNA, the Penn Wissahickon Grief Reach, & the People's Emergency Center.

Committee's 2016 Community Outreach Initiatives

Nichole Howard

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Pet the Pooch Program

Created and managed by Heather Matthew, MSN, clinical practice lead in the Emergency Department, the program partners with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals (PSPCA) to bring several dogs and cats to the hospital so that employees have a couple moments to relieve work stress. This also provides an opportunity for these animals to find their forever home.

Heather Matthew

Neuroscience Graduate Group

The Penn neuroscience community began community-outreach programs several decades ago, when a faculty member and a few graduate students began visiting local schools with brains in jars and other items for students to look at and touch. Today we are active in a much broader range of community outreach and partnership activities in the Philadelphia area, including public lectures, courses, competitions, and informational presentations that are sponsored by the Mahoney Institute of Neurosciences (MINS) and organized by the Graduate-Led Initiatives and Activities (GLIA) Committee of the Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG). For more information, please visit NGG and GLIA.

Penn Medicine Breast Initiative

Building on the fact that mammograms remain the best, "first-line-of-defense" screening test available for the early detection of breast cancer, this initiative was started with financial assistance from Komen Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Healthy' Healthy Woman Program, offering free mammogram and breast diagnostic services as well as referrals for free cervical screenings, pelvic exams and Pap test for women who do not have health insurance.

Andrea Nicholson

Penn Medicine CAREs Grant

Penn Medicine faculty, staff and students throughout the organization donate their time and expertise to provide countless hours of work to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. To help with these efforts, the Penn Medicine CAREs Grant program (access is restricted to employees) was established to offer institutional support to these individuals and programs in the form of grants — awarded quarterly — that can be used for the purchase of supplies and other resources needed to perform this important work in the community. Take a look at a listing of projects funded by the CAREs grant from inception until 2015.

Penn Medicine High School Pipeline Program

The Pipeline is a two-year, year-round program that exposes junior and senior high school students from West Philadelphia high schools to the health care field while providing job readiness training and professional development. The students all work with mentors in departments and areas throughout the Health System. Once they graduate from high school, they become employed by Penn Medicine, working 20 hours per week receiving pay and benefits for 40 hours. Benefits include the robust tuition assistance program that enables them to go for the degree of their choosing.

Daniel Bryan
(267) 758-4600

Penn Medicine's West Philadelphia Gastrointestinal (GI) Health Outreach and Access Program

Founded in November 2011 with seed funding from an anonymous donor, the Abramson Cancer Center established the program, which provides education about colorectal cancer screening and physical navigation through the screening process for people who live in West, South and SouthWest Philadelphia. Patient navigator, Alicia Lamanna, works with patients on a one-on-one basis and addresses barriers that might prevent them from getting a screening test. She also ensures patients understand the information by using language that is easy to comprehend.

Alicia Lamana

Penn Presbyterian Community Outreach Council

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC) has been pivotal in the West Philadelphia community for many years. The main goal and focus of PPMC is to service and address the many needs of the evolving community. To address these needs in the community, the Penn Presbyterian Community Outreach Council was created. The Council plans and provides events centered on health screenings, trauma information, stroke prevention, and other topics of health education outside the hospital wall within the community collaborating with local organizations. The most notable event to date is the annual PPMC Community Health Fair held at Saunders Park.

Jen Nelson, RN, MSN, CCRN 

Helena D. Pittman, BSN, RN, CCRN, ATCN

Perelman School of Medicine Student-Led Community Clinics

We believe that an essential aspect of training the doctors of tomorrow is preparing them to serve their communities. We take to heart the Association of American Medical Colleges position that compassion and service are essential components of being a doctor. The following list of student run or staffed health clinics demonstrate Perelman School of Medicine's commitment to community service:

  • Covenant House
    Covenant House provides a full range of services to meet the complex needs of homeless and runaway youth. Medical students conduct history and physical examinations, and engage with the youth in non-clinical activities, such as board games and karaoke.

  • Cut Hypertension
    The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) provides blood pressure screenings and information about the risks of hypertension, especially among Black males, every other Saturday in a barber shop in the heart of West Philadelphia.

  • Heart Health Bridge to Care
    A branch of the United Community Clinic, Heart Health Bridge to Care Clinic provides long-term care to underinsured individuals in the Parkside section of Philadelphia. Medical students work with nursing, pharmacy, and social work students, as well as faculty to develop care plans for patients with heart disease.

  • Homeless Health Initiative
    The Homeless Health Initiative provides free health services to women and children living in local emergency housing shelters. As part of a clinical team, medical student volunteers assist with history and physical exams, and medical counseling of patients. Volunteers also interact with patients and their families to gain exposure to and knowledge of the impact of homelessness on children's lives and health.

  • Puentes de Salud
    Puentes de Salud works to ensure the wellness of the Latino immigrant population in South Philadelphia by offering medical care, education, and social services. Medical student volunteers contribute to clinical teams for patient care, and participate in the Diabetes Management Program, a longitudinal experience. There are also leadership opportunities for other non-clinical projects run by the organization.

  • Refugee Women's Clinic
    Refugee Women's Clinic provides women's health education and culturally competent healthcare to refugee women who have resettled in Philadelphia. Medical students plan and provide patient education sessions on various women's health topics, as well as contribute to clinical care.

  • United Community Clinic (UCC)
    United Community Clinic is a free health clinic coordinated by University of Pennsylvania students that provides care to mostly African American men and women between the ages of 16-65, often uninsured or underinsured. Medical students help by taking patient histories, performing physical exams, and presenting to resident and attending physicians.

  • University City Hospitality Coalition (UCHC)
    The University City Hospitality Coalition provides services to the homeless in West Philadelphia, including hot meals, a medical clinic, a dental clinic, a legal clinic, and referral services for shelter, housing, food, and clothing. The medical clinic is staffed by Penn Medicine students, physicians, and pharmacists. Services provided by the medical clinic include: acute and emergent care; diabetes and hypertension screenings; HIV/HCV testing; dermatology consultations; flu shots; condom distribution; and referrals to social services.

  • Unity Health Clinic
    The Unity Health Clinic is a free clinic that primarily serves uninsured Indonesian immigrants of Chinese descent. Medical student volunteers assist and shadow Penn faculty and residents. On clinic evenings, medical students are involved in medical scribing, taking patient histories, checking blood pressure, calculating BMI, retrieving medications, and more. Volunteers also give presentations to small groups of patients on basic topics in health and medicine.

Stroke Community Education

Stroke is the number one preventable cause of disability. Stroke has many risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes. These factors are an identified need on the community health needs assessment, so efforts are made to assist the community in combating these risk factors along with increasing the awareness of stroke symptoms. Karrima Owens leads these efforts for Penn Presbyterian.

Karrima Owens

Veterans Affairs Partnership

Combat to Care is Penn Medicine's veteran recruitment initiative. Our goal is to strengthen our workforce by recruiting unusually qualified leaders who have demonstrated inspiring dedication, loyalty, and strength in the service of our nation. If you are a United States veteran seeking a new mission in an organization that values service to others above all else, ask yourself, Why Not You?

Rosemarie Cray

WeCARE @ Penn Medicine Information Services

(Community Activity Rewards Everyone) Information Services for Penn Medicine has combined their employees' charitable initiatives and community activities in order to maximize impact and participation. Focusing on approximately one event every month, this department provides volunteer hours, in-kind donations and monetary sponsorship to various programs centered on improving quality of life in the Philadelphia region.

Poppy Rae Bass

Get Involved

Penn Medicine employees and students: To find upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit the community events page.

Make it Count

Penn Medicine employees and students giving back. Report community activities on the Penn Medicine CAREs intranet site.

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