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Penn Medicine established the CAREs Grant Program in early 2012 to support student, faculty and staff led efforts to improve the health of the community and foster community involvement. Each quarter, the Foundation awards grants of up to $2,000 per project. After receiving the money, many of the organizations have used the money to better support their causes.

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The Daily Pennsylvanian takes a look at how some of the recent recipients’ projects have turned out.

The Penn Human Rights Clinic

The Penn Human Rights Clinic received the CAREs grant in the spring of 2013 and has since put the money to use training doctors to help people seeking asylum. They partnered with Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization that works to train doctors to become better advocates for these patients.

“The role of physicians in patients seeking asylum is to help objectively confirm the clients stories about what physical or emotional issues were inflicted on them that caused them to leave their countries,” said Leah Seifu, a second-year medical student and volunteer at the Penn Human Rights Clinic.

The Penn Human Rights Clinic was founded in 2012 and is dedicated to helping provide psychiatric and physical evaluations to those who have been persecuted and are now seeking asylum. While many other cities in the country already have programs in place to do so, Philadelphia was lacking in this area.

This year, the clinic has 13 new doctors because of the grant. The doctors, working in conjunction with medical students, write affidavits and go to court on behalf of their patients.

“It’s been such a great opportunity as students to serve the global health community right here in our backyard,” Seifu said.

UC Green

UC Green received its grant in April of 2013 and has since spent the money on the Green Corps Program, which provided environmental education and leadership training for young adults. It offers teens who live in West Philadelphia a part time job in which they become responsible for maintaining the green space in the city.

The money was put toward buying new supplies and work shirts for the Green Corps. The grant money helped UC Green to maintain the program.

One of the volunteers, Karen Wagner, a clinical dietician specialist at Penn Med’s Abramson Cancer Clinic, became involved in the organization when she was looking for a small community garden in the neighborhood in West Philadelphia.

She decided to apply for one for UC Green.

“When I heard about the Penn CAREs grant intended for people who work for Penn Med, I thought that UC Green was the perfect recipient,” said Wagner.

Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services started UC Green in 1998. The organization is responsible for maintaining sidewalks, playgrounds and establishing other green spaces around University City. They recently celebrated their 15th anniversary.

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Additionally, this past summer, “UC Green had some of their most participants who worked for the program and were able to care for more blocks and acres than usual,” Wagner said.

Sink or Swim Philadelphia:

Sink or Swim has been able to help more than 20 people with their medical bills since the program began in 2011. It has raised over $35,000 through a combination of fundraising, donations and a CAREs grant.

“We’re a microfinance organization, we’re not going to raise enough money to pay off all their bills, but want to give them a one month break of not having to decide between food and medical bills,” said Marion Leary, assistant director of clinical research for the Center for Resuscitation Science in Emergency Medicine.

Leary applied for the CAREs grant in order to sustain funding and keep the organization running.

Each month, SOS picks one individual to help them out with their expensive medical bills.

“We got the Penn CAREs grant last year and it was hugely helpful. We are a small, all volunteer nonprofit and we’ve only been around for two years with no steady funding, and the grant helped us … to sustain the program,” Leary said.

University City Hospitality Coalition Clinic:

The University City Hospitality Coalition Clinic received the grant in April of 2013 and has been using the $1,500 to expand some of the services provided and allow for the upkeep of the clinic.

UCHC is run by students at the Perelman School of Medicine and serves as a free clinic that provides medical care, education and referral services to low-income and homeless individuals at Saints Agatha and James Parish.

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They have replaced machines such as blood glucose monitors and blood pressure cuffs. They have also used the money to cover their monthly pharmacy cost for the medication that they distribute to those who cannot afford it.

“Overall we’ve been really pleased with the program and really happy that there are these options are available to students that help us serve the community better,” said Alessia Bhargava, a second-year medical student and volunteer at UCHC who applied for the grant.

The clinic is a multi-disciplinary clinic in which many volunteers, students and doctors from different fields of medicine work together to give patients care that they would not receive otherwise.

“We all come together synergistically to try to deliver the best care we can to people that don’t have any other options,” said Courtney Rubin, a second-year medical student and another UCHC volunteer.

A previous version of this article stated that the organization was called Penn Medicine CAREs Foundation Grant Program. The correct name is Penn Medicine CAREs Grant Program.

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