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A student makes his way up a climbing wall during Campus Philly last year. The annual event is aimed at keeping students in the city.

In its continual effort to keep young talent in Philadelphia, city officials are turning to an unlikely source this weekend - hip-hop star Talib Kweli.

This Saturday, Campus Philly is hosting its annual kick-off event at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with live performances by Kweli and other artists and free access for college students to 11 museums across the city.

Retaining college grads has long been a concern for city officials - at Penn, a majority of alumni leave Philadelphia, with the top destination being New York City, according to Career Services director Pat Rose.

And officials at Campus Philly, a nonprofit organization focused on tying college students to the community, say the event will help students establish ties with Philadelphia that will extend past graduation.

Campus Philly has recently been at the forefront of the city's retention efforts, receiving a $1 million grant from the city to connect students with internships and help them take advantage of the city's cultural opportunities.

By working to retain recent college graduates, we "help local companies grow, and we help the economy grow," said Jon Herrmann, a 2000 Wharton graduate and executive director of Campus Philly.

Economic experts say the organization's new tactic - focusing on Philadelphia's cultural and social appeal as well as its large job market - is a good approach to combat the loss of graduates.

"The key for any region in growing its economy is to develop, attract and retain talent by showing off the region as an area with a great environment," said Steven Wray, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

Aside from Saturday's event, the organization is also planning a number of internship-oriented opportunities, including "Connections," scheduled for next Thursday.

There, soon-to-be graduates will have the opportunity to rub elbows with a room full of representatives from local employers.

Future initiatives also include multiple internship fairs, constant updates about internship opportunities on the organization's Web site and a conference at Temple University in November where student volunteers can network with local nonprofits.

Campus Philly's initiatives may be working: Spokesman Randy Giancaterino said 65 percent of all college students now stay in Philadelphia after graduating, a 15 percent increase over the last two years.

Still, convincing alumni to stay isn't always possible.

Such was the case for Kellyn Goler, a 2007 College graduate who wanted to stay in Philadelphia but did not have any luck in her job search.

"In the past, I think many people did not want to stay in Philadelphia, but now I think students enjoy Philadelphia and want to stay," Rose said. "But they need help finding attractive jobs here."

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