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The CAREs grant program was founded by Penn Medicine in 2012.

Credit: Oscar Vasquez

Penn Medicine awarded over 20 grants to community projects through its CAREs program to support additional green space, affordable health care, and local sports initiatives.

Founded by Penn Med in 2012, the CAREs grant program provides Penn Med students and employees with financial assistance to allow them to volunteer in their communities, Penn Today reported. The program had provided over $600,000 dollars to more than 43 grant recipients as of August 2020. 

This year, the program aimed to support the needs of the community, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as initiatives to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Among this year’s award recipients is Puentes de Salud, a program that provides food and other medical necessities to Latinx families in the Philadelphia area. Yessenia Caballero Tilleria, a Penn Med employee, plans to use the CAREs funds to enable the initiative’s distribution of menstrual products and diapers to members of the Philadelphia community.

Two volunteer initiatives will work to create more green space in Philadelphia. Research specialist at Penn Med's Center for Cellular Immunotherapy Donna Gonzales received grant money on behalf of the West Poplar Tree Tenders. The group plants trees and shrubs in Philadelphia’s West Poplar neighborhood, where the tree population has decreased by more than 6% since 2019, TreePhilly reported.

“We have many hardworking families living in our neighborhood, and we work hard to improve things for our neighbors," Gonzales said to Penn Medicine News. "It’s amazing that Penn Medicine offers funds for neighborhood improvement, and I believe it's important to offer these types of programs to encourage community involvement.”

Other projects selected this year include an After-School Athlete Snack Program, which will feed children after sports activities, and the Heart Health Bridge to Care Clinic, which provides affordable health care to people with heart disease.