SNF Paideia Program expands, thanks to new grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation

Increased funding will enable the SNF Paideia Program at Penn to strengthen a commitment to the civic mission of higher education on campus and beyond with enhanced course offerings, an expanded fellowship program, and more event programming.

Group of people gathered together by a building entrance.
During a celebration in May 2022, current fellows in the SNF Paideia Program welcomed the 2025 cohort.

The University of Pennsylvania today announced an expansion of its SNF Paideia Program, starting July 2022. A new grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) will enable the SNF Paideia Program to support additional courses each year; grow the Fellows cohort; and provide more campus-wide programming, as well as assist student organizations to effectively incorporate robust but respectful dialogue into their activities. This renewed partnership will strengthen a shared commitment to the civic mission of higher education at Penn and beyond.

“The SNF Paideia Program has been a tremendous resource for students to obtain the knowledge and skills to foster lives of citizenship, service, and wellness,” says Interim President Wendel Pritchett. “We are extraordinarily grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their continued commitment to this critical program. With increased course offerings and expanded outreach to students, the SNF Paideia Program is poised to increase its impact exponentially.”

Since the program’s launch in early 2020, nearly 1,250 students from all four of Penn’s undergraduate schools have enrolled in one or more SNF Paideia-designated courses, which are designed to help undergraduate students develop as civic-minded citizens who embrace wellness, practice productive dialogue across difference, and pursue service-oriented roles to enhance the lives of others.

“True to its name, in less than three years, the SNF Paideia Program has cemented its place as a new model for educating the whole person by providing Penn students with the concepts and tools they need to become thriving and conscientious citizens of the world,” says Michael X. Delli Carpini, faculty director of the SNF Paideia Program. “This generous grant will enable even more Penn students to experience the lifelong benefits of the SNF Paideia Program.”

“Since SNF first collaborated with Penn to create and support the SNF Paideia Program, the need for its thoughtful work to foster civil discourse and civic engagement has only become more pressing,” says SNF co-president Andreas Dracopoulos. “We are thrilled that with this ongoing growth and expansion of the program, more students will be able to experience the chance to connect across divides, to encounter new perspectives, and to build the skills and habits that shape a lifetime of active and productive citizenship.”

Increased support from SNF will allow the SNF Paideia Program to enhance the number of yearly course offerings and reach 1,000 students annually. A portion of the SNF grant will also expand the SNF Paideia Fellowship Program, which provides selective cohorts of Penn students with an immersive three-year experience designed to connect their general education and major requirements to public engagement, dialogue, and community building. With the expansion, the Program will be able to support 25 Fellows per cohort, increasing the total number of Fellows from 60 to 75 each year.

The final portion of SNF’s expanded grant will support new SNF Paideia Program events that facilitate broader exposure to robust and civil dialogue on issues related citizenship, service, and individual and community wellness. To date, SNF Paideia events and programs have been attended by nearly 15,000 people on campus and beyond. With increased funding, the Program will be able to expand its sponsored and co-sponsored events, create new skill sharing opportunities, assist student groups in integrating dialogue into their work, and strengthen collaboration with existing campus programs devoted to creating a culture of civic dialogue and engagement at Penn.

“The SNF Paideia Program offers students the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking dialogues with their peers,” says Tori Sousa, a junior studying philosophy, politics, and economics at the College of Arts and Sciences. “It equips students to appropriately utilize dialogue as a tool to dissect the societal issues that many of our studies center around, in a manner that is productive, rather than pointless or ineffective. In such a divisive political climate, the SNF Paideia Program has proven, for me, to be incredibly relevant to my coursework and even my conversations outside of a classroom setting.”