When graduates fill Franklin Field at Commencement, they not only celebrate the culmination of their studies at Penn but join the University's international network of alumni.
The alumni organization PennPAC harnesses Penn pride by bringing together more than 500 former Quakers to provide pro-bono consulting to nonprofits in the New York and Philadelphia areas. Through the organization, small teams of alumni with a broad range of skills are assembled to take on specific projects. They have provided more than $1 million worth of consulting to over 25 nonprofits.
“We use our intellectual capital to help nonprofits with projects that they can’t do in-house, whether it’s because they don’t have the resources or because they just need some outside advice,” said Jackie Einstein Astrof, the group’s founder and a 1993 College graduate.
Astrof conceived of PennPAC while working in the nonprofit sector during the financial crisis. As many organizations were losing a significant amount of funding, she saw that they were struggling to work on strategic growth. Astrof also spent several years as a pro-bono consultant for the UJA-Federation of New York. She saw an opportunity to capitalize on the skills of Penn alumni and use them to assist nonprofit groups in need.
Because of the range of expertise of PennPAC volunteers, teams are able to assist organizations on several fronts. They provide everything from market research to branding assistance to website and social media help.
“It’s incredible that we are able to put together the intellectual capital of Penn alumni and put it to good use,” Astrof said. “PennPAC is a wonderful opportunity for Penn alumni to come together and feel a sense of community while doing rewarding work to assist some fabulous organizations.”
PennPAC also hosts its annual ImPACt event, a one-night alumni volunteer event in New York. At a recent event, volunteers conducted mock college interviews with underprivileged students from the Bronx. They helped the students develop their interview skills while getting them excited about educational opportunities.
Given the success of the organization, Astrof is ready to grow PennPAC. She would like to see project teams form in other cities, and perhaps even student involvement in some capacity. She also hopes that more alumni will support PennPAC by volunteering, providing financial support, recommending nonprofits or by simply spreading the word to other alumni.
“We’ve been around now for three years. We’ve kept a low profile as we tested the waters,” said Astrof. “Now, we’re ready to have more alumni and students aware of what we’re doing and increase our capacity to help more nonprofits thrive.”
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