Inaugural Projects for Progress recipients announced

Awardees include three Penn teams that will help address health care, education, and environmental justice, respectively, in Philadelphia.

College Hall

The University announced Friday its inaugural Projects for Progress prize recipients, which include three teams of Penn students, faculty, and staff. The teams, awarded up to $100,000 each to support their initiatives, all enhance and promote equity and inclusion in Philadelphia by addressing health care, education, and environmental justice, respectively.

Established by President Amy Gutmann last summer, and managed by the new Office of Social Equity & Community, Projects for Progress are meant to build on Penn’s longstanding commitment to social justice and civic engagement in Philadelphia.

“It’s enlightening to see the interdisciplinary collaboration among so many teams, as well as the local community, who have joined creatively together for Projects for Progress for the good of all in Philadelphia,” says Gutmann. “This initiative is near and dear to my heart, and I am incredibly excited to see how each project evolves in the coming months.”

Projects for Progress received 63 total applications, which were due in March, and each application included three to five team members. A total of 270 members of the Penn community participated, including 61 undergraduates, 73 graduate and professional students, 70 faculty members, and 66 staff members. The Projects for Progress selection committee included representatives from the School of Social Policy & Practice, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Nursing, the Perelman School of Medicine, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, Civic House, and University Life.

“The winning teams prioritized listening as they collaborated with existing entities in Philadelphia—that was pivotal,” says Nicole Maloy, director of the Office of Social Equity & Community, who is coordinating the initiative. “Each proposal demonstrated thoughtful consideration of the community needs that were communicated to the teams. They followed through with practical plans to take action in partnership with local leaders who share their dedication to this ongoing work.”

This year’s Projects for Progress recipients are:

Shelter Health Outreach Program – Community Family Care Clinic

The team will establish a Community Family Care Clinic (CFCC) at the People’s Emergency Center in West Philadelphia, focused on offering prenatal, women’s, and pediatric health care twice weekly by professional providers. In partnership with Sayre Health Center, Penn Medicine, and Chosen 300, a homeless advocacy organization, CFCC will address health disparities in Philadelphia’s homeless and underserved populations through consistent, community-centric care.

Team Shelter Health

The team:

Evelyn Gotlieb, Wharton 2021 – Undergraduate, Concentration in Health Care Management and Policy, minor in Chemistry

Junduo Liu, College of Arts & Sciences 2022 – Undergraduate, Double major in Biochemistry and Health & Societies, minor in Bioethics

Michael Hagan, College of Arts & Sciences 2022 – Undergraduate, Major in Neuroscience

Ian McCurry, Perelman School of Medicine 2022 – Doctor of Medicine program

Deepti Tantry, College of Arts & Sciences 2022 – Undergraduate, Major in Neuroscience, minor in Healthcare Management

Mentor: Joseph Teel, Perelman School of Medicine – Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine and Community Health

Bridging Gaps and Building Capacity: Student and Educator Supports for School Reopening in Learning Network 2

To address the effects of the global pandemic, this initiative will address elementary students’ school readiness and teachers’ instructional capacity and mental health needs by providing evidence-based programming and professional development at 1-2 summer learning sites in West Philadelphia, followed by network-wide professional learning supports throughout the 2021-22 academic year.


The team:

Caroline Watts, Graduate School of Education – Director, Office of School & Community Engagement; Senior Lecturer, Professional Counseling Programs

Diane Waff, Graduate School of Education – Professor of Practice; Director, Philadelphia Writing Project

Zachary Herrmann, Graduate School of Education – Executive Director, Center for Professional Learning

Marsha Richardson, Graduate School of Education – Senior Lecturer, Human Development & Qualitative Methods

Regina Bynum, The Netter Center for Community Partnerships—Director of Teaching and Learning, University Assisted Community Schools

A Collaborative Initiative to Renovate and Optimize the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center

Through major renovations, updated instrumentation, and additional environmental justice-focused STEM programming, this initiative will enhance the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center and its K–16+ collaborative learning opportunities. The team has engaged with key stakeholders in the West Philadelphia community to identify and prioritize their needs and goals.


The team:

Erica DePalma, The Water Center – Research Program Coordinator, Earth and Environmental Science

Chinedu “Ocek” Eke, School of Engineering and Applied Science – Director for Graduate Students Programming, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Anna Balfanz, The Netter Center for Community Partnerships – Senior Research Coordinator

Cooper Yerby, School of Arts & Sciences 2023 – Doctoral program in Earth and Environmental Science

Visit the Projects for Progress website for more information, or email