Penn and Knight Foundation to Develop Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence

PHILADELPHIA -- The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has approved a $2.4 million grant to the University of Pennsylvania to launch the Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence.

To help close the gap between supply and demand for practitioners with the skills needed to reverse neighborhood decline, CURExPenn will train at least 430 of the best potential urban-development managers and accelerate their growth into effective practitioners.

The program will consist of six weeks of classroom instruction and a two-year fellowships with leading innovators working in neighborhood revitalization nationwide.

"We are grateful to the Knight Foundation for its vision and support," Penn President Judith Rodin said. "CURExPenn will provide support and guidance for future urban developers and their critical role in shaping our cities' futures. This generous funding recognizes the University of Pennsylvania's role as a national leader in research and practice in urban-revitalization issues."

The program will be guided by some of the country's most respected community developers under the leadership of Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar, and Gary Hack, dean of Penn's Graduate School of Fine Arts.

"Front-line professionals are the key link to revitalizing America's cities," Hack said. "Our program, which immerses fellows in practice and provides opportunities to learn from experienced developers, should create a new generation of leaders."

"CurexPenn will fill a gap that those of us in the community-development field have felt for decades," Baron said. "The lack of experienced young entrepreneurs trained and committed to rebuilding cities has contributed to the decline of urban centers throughout the country."

The project highlights the new strategic direction of the National Venture Fund, the Knight Foundation's grant program focusing on innovative -- and sometimes risky -- ventures at the national level that provide models for systemic change in the foundation's area of interest.

"Penn's innovative leadership in neighborhood revitalization makes it the natural host for this new program," said Hodding Carter III, Knight Foundation president and CEO. "This fellows program fills a significant gap in the urban-development field."

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