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Philadelphia’s Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development, co-founded by Netter Center for Community Partnerships Director Ira Harkavy, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a two-day conference that began yesterday.

PHENND consists of 31 Philadelphia colleges and universities which work to develop sustainable community-based service-learning partnerships across greater Philadelphia. Penn is hosting the PHENND conference in Houston Hall, following its postponement in February due to weather conditions.

Participants have come from across America, and the conference features many guest speakers from across the country.

PHENND believes that higher educational institutions can work as anchors and partners for community improvement in the wider area. At the conference, groups will discuss the regional approach that anchor institutions — which include hospitals and universities — can take in the Philadelphia area.

Participants at the conference will address ways in which anchor institutions can develop partnerships for education and community-based research, as well as ways to open up employer-assisted housing and health programs.

The conference will also focus on ways to promote college access in the wider community and how city-wide engagement can be further documented. Workshops on Thursday addressed multi-institutional collaborations and faculty engagement.

The conference’s keynote speaker Lillian Kuri, program director for Architecture, Urban Design and Sustainable Development at the Cleveland Foundation, which is the oldest and one of the largest community foundations in the United States, spoke on Thursday about ways in which anchor-based initiatives can be developed.

Today, talks will focus on engagement and gathering data across institutions.

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