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Staff, Faculty, and Alumni Volunteer Opportunities

The Netter Center's Penn Volunteers in Public Service (VIPS) program is responsible for providing volunteer activities for faculty, staff and alumni. The program manages a variety of activities that include creating volunteer activities, informing the University community and the community at-large about available volunteer programs, and managing several University-wide volunteer activities. These activities include, but are not limited to:

Teaching Opportunities

_____Nonprofit Institute

The Nonprofit Institute takes place over a two week period normally in the fall and the spring. It is designed to help nonprofits and communities of faith effectively manage their agencies. Volunteers teach a class in their field of expertise that include, but is not limited to board development, accounting, grant writing, legal issues, human resource management, fundraising, and public speaking. Classes are usually 90 minutes long.

Volunteers teach and/or co-teach a class providing technical information and/or support in their area of expertise. 

_____University-Assisted Community School (UACS) Nights

Teach adult learners your expertise. Teach resume writing, interviewing skills, computers, employment prep, dance, hair braiding, cooking, and or a subject you are passionate about. Teach once a week for a one or two hour period for four to six weeks.

We also welcome classes that can be taught in one session.

Classes are held on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays from 6pm- 8pm at West Philadelphia High School located on 49th and Chestnut Streets.


Semester-long Volunteer Programs

_____Penn WorkPlace Mentoring Program

This program engages University staff and faculty to work with 7th Grade students from Mastery Charter School – Shoemaker Campus in West Philadelphia once a month throughout the school year. The goal of the program is to expose mentees to a college campus and to help the mentees set goals for their future. Mentors form positive relationships with their mentees and talk to them about the importance of an education and how to set goals.

The mentor shares information about their career and they provide information on what is necessary for the mentee to achieve their goal. A mentor in the Penn's WorkPlace Mentoring Program is a friend.

Mentees visit campus the 3rd Thursday of the month from October – May from 9am – 1:30pm.

_____Penn Scholarship Program

Approximately 6 scholarships ranging from $1,000 - $1,250 are provided annually to graduating seniors with an interest in community service accepted at accredited colleges and universities. Students are selected from Bartram, Parkway, Overbrook, West, Robeson and Sayre High Schools. Students must complete an application due at the end of April.

Volunteers assist with planning the reception where students are honored, distributing college application, selecting winners, and selecting keynote speakers for the event.

_____Volunteer List

Every other month, Penn VIPS posts a list of request for volunteers from a variety of community agencies seeking assistance to help provide service to their constituency. Requests includes and are not limited to: tutors, computer teachers, working with seniors, donations, participation in health fairs to name a few. Join the Penn VIPS list and receive listings of the various request from the community.

_____Information and Referral

Penn VIPS maintains a database of services available at the University and provides that information upon request.

_____Dropsite Volunteers

Become a drop site volunteer and participate in the various drives held throughout the course of the year. Assist with collecting donated items that are shared with a variety of agencies in the community. Penn VIPS provides donations go to local agencies to assist them with better servicing their constituency. Drives take place as follows:

March – Change Drive to Benefit the Scholarship Program

August - School Supplies Drive

November - Food Drive

December – Toy/Gift Drive

December – Coat Drive

Dropsite volunteers advertise the various drives, help designate the beneficiaries of the drives, and help with the distribution of the donated items.

Excess Items Distribution: The University often has items such as furniture and office supplies no longer in use. Penn VIPS is responsible for sharing the items equitably with the community. Share information about no longer needed items that may benefit members of the community.


One Day Event Volunteer Opportunities

_____Create Your Own Volunteer Program

Have an idea about a volunteer event you would like to undertake with your colleagues? Penn VIPS can help you plan your event/program. Penn VIPS can also connect you with a variety of volunteer activities in the surrounding area.

Volunteers do a presentation at the school in the student’s classroom and then they entertain questions. Presentations and Q/A usually lasts an hour.

_____Penn WorkPlace Mentoring Program Guest Speaker/Career Day Speakers Bureau

Volunteer to be a guest speaker for the children involved in the Penn WorkPlace Mentoring Program. Chat with students about career choices, stories of triumph and the importance of a college education. Students visit campus once a month, participate in group discussions and spend time with their mentors. The Program seeks guest speakers who can address the students during one of their group sessions that generally take place 9:00-10:00am and 12:30-1:30pm. Speakers talk to students about the impact and worth of their college education. The program meets on the third Thursday of each month between October and May.

Also, Penn VIPS recruits speakers from across the University to respond to request for career day speakers at local schools and fairs.

_____Adopt A Family for the Holidays

During the holiday in December, departments from across the University “adopt” a deserving family. The adoption is usually done in lieu of departmental gift exchanges. The assigned family is treated to presents and sometimes holiday dinner. Families participate in the program on a one-time basis.

Departments may request a “wish list” from the family or they may choose their own gifts for the family members. Departments choose the number and types of gifts they will provide. Departments are provided with size of the family, names, ages and sizes of each family member.

_____Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service

Each year, on the King Holiday, the University of Pennsylvania and our surrounding communities come together to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in community service activities. Volunteers participate in the University’s commemoration of the Dr. King holiday by becoming involved in a variety of service activities that include spruce up projects, books on tape and creating gifts for the elderly and shelters in the surrounding community.

Penn VIPS is available to connect you and your family/colleagues to the many activities that take place during the commemoration.

_____Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Join the University of Pennsylvania Team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is as unique and special as the stories that motivate the dedicated volunteers. Volunteers help create a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays. The walk is normally held the 3rd Sunday in October.

More than just a walk, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event describes the progress being made to save lives by helping people get well, stay well, find cures and fight back. Volunteers, walk, fundraise, and participate in planning meetings for the Penn Team.

_____Penn Adopts A Classroom

“Adopt” a West Philadelphia school classroom.

Provide needed classroom items like reams of paper, pens, pencils, tissues, hand sanitizer, notebooks, folders, glue sticks, disinfecting wipes, calculators, index cards, scissors, backpacks, pencil sharpeners, dividers, protractors, highlighters, markers, construction paper, book socks, combination locks, personal organizers, Post-It, tape, stapler and staples, etc.

Work with classrooms involved in University-Assisted Community Schools operated by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Schools include Lea, Sayre, West, and Comegys. You would have the opportunity to select the age group you prefer. A classroom would be assigned to you with a wish-list. Provide supplies needed by your assigned classroom teacher. Your donation helps to insure that every student in the selected has the supplies needed to help them be successful at school.

For more information, please contact: Isabel Sampson-Mapp, Associate Director/Director Penn VIPS at 215-898-2020 or