The Center for Public Purpose engages Penn Charter students in community-based work addressing some of the most pressing social issues in metropolitan Philadelphia. The center’s work aligns with Penn Charter’s Quaker values and curriculum and creates structures that inspire students to take ownership of their own learning experience. Through this process students gain the skills and competencies to live lives that make a difference. Mission Statement

What is the Center for Public Purpose?

The Center for Public Purpose (CfPP) engages Penn Charter students in community-based work addressing some of the most pressing social issues in the metropolitan Philadelphia. The CfPP’s work aligns with Penn Charter’s Quaker values and curriculum and creates structures that inspire students to take ownership of their own learning experience. Through this process students gain skills and competencies to live lives that make a difference.

What does CfPP do?

  • support and expand the Penn Charter community’s sense of social responsibility and justice

  • serve as a place for incubating ideas, connecting communities, sharing dialogue and supporting good works

  • streamline access that students and other community members need to make a greater difference

  • facilitate experiential learning that develop students’ skills and competencies to inform their lives as citizens and support them in living lives that make a difference

  • focus student work, initially, on issues of equity in education, poverty, and food insecurity in the city of Philadelphia

  • strengthen our participation in the Philadelphia community and our role as a community resource

How does CfPP accomplish all of the above?

Building on Penn Charter's long-standing practice of building service learning into the curriculum, the CfPP works closely with classroom teachers, with student clubs, and with individual students to facilitate learning and accomplish our mission. Here are just three examples.

Co-Curricular Partnerships

The CfPP works closely with grade-level teachers to integrate real-world events and experiential learning through partnerships with local schools and organizations addressing Philadelphia's greatest needs; students gain exposure to individuals who are letting their lives speak through public-purpose work.

An Example:  Sixth Grade Food Insecurity Capstone

Sixth graders (above with teacher Charlie Brown) are immersed in a yearlong interdisciplinary and service learning experience focusing on food insecurity both locally and globally. Cross curricular activities include utilizing hunger statistics as they learn ratios and percentages in math, researching the essential nutrients in health, exploring the issue of food deserts in our city in science, and examining food insecurity in various parts of the world in social studies.  

Throughout the year students are joined on campus by several local organization leaders who are engaged in this issue and they participate in an ongoing internships (repeated visits over the year) at local organizations that work to combat food insecurity in various ways.

Extra-Curricular Programs

The CfPP supports groups and individual students in learning more about specific areas of interest in public-purpose work. We provide opportunities through time in school and in our local community working with valued partners to deepen their understanding, develop skills and design programming around pressing social issues.

An Example: Service Council

Through the Center for Public Purpose, Penn Charter has developed an extended partnership with the DePaul House, which serves adult men experiencing homelessness in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Through job and life skills training, DePaul supports and prepares men for independent living. Our work together has multiple facets, including: students volunteering for Penn Charter's Days of Service, a Middle School internship program, and through our after-school service program. Once a week, Penn Charter students work alongside DePaul's administrators and residents to maintain 15 of DePaul's garden beds that produce fresh produce for the house and the local community. With food harvested directly from the garden, Penn Charter students prepare and serve meals and have the opportunity to meet residents and share stories.

Community Incubator

The CfPP creates a space for individual students, alumni and faculty to bring their questions and curiosity about the most pressing issues in our communities and provides resources and support to research, design and implement solutions that address essential questions in school community and/or the larger Philadelphia region.

An Example:  Quake Makers

In the spring of 2017, a Penn Charter junior who recognized an interest of students decided to lead the development and implementation of a social entrepreneurship club. This became Quake Makers, a club designed and facilitated by Penn Charter Upper School students with the support of the CfPP. Students meet weekly for an introduction to the entrepreneurial process, exposure to the tools and practices associated with evidence-based social entrepreneurship, and, ultimately, to develop their creative problem-solving skills. Students have the opportunity to conceive and test a start-up product/organization/business and pursue and pitch that concept to local Penn Charter alumni who are entrepreneurs and organization leaders in the Philadelphia community.

An Example: Allegheny West Consortium

Founded by faculty across local schools, the Allegheny West Consortium includes Penn Charter, Bayard Taylor School, St. James School, Logan Hope School and Jefferson University. Teachers meet throughout the year to share ideas and best practices on teacher-selected topics. In addition, the schools share resources to enhance education and opportunities across all campuses.

 

How does CfPP help your child grow and learn?

Through the CfPP, students are given the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of what is happening in our local, national and global communities. In addition, they have the space to practice and develop the following skills and competencies. Consider:

  • Constructive Listening:  Students listen to understand another’s experience and perspective rather than simply responding.
  • Intellectual Humility:  Students are open to new ideas and are receptive to new sources of evidence.
  • Lifelong Learning:  Students seek formal and informal learning opportunities to ask questions, find answers and foster continuous development and revelation.
  • Creative Problem-Solving:  Students see possibilities in problems and use their skills and resources to develop multiple solutions.
  • Civic Responsibility:  Students recognize their own abilities and believe they can have a significant, positive impact on our world.

PC History of Community Engagement

Our school’s founder, William Penn, embraced the call to service as a fundamental article of his Quaker faith. His school has a distinguished heritage of service unsurpassed by any other school in the Commonwealth. More.