Drexel Community News





May 9, 2013 — Drexel University will showcase its KEYSPOT — a community computer lab — at an Open House on Wed., May 15, from 4pm – 7pm at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, 3509 Spring Garden Street.

The KEYSPOT will provide free computer classes and Internet access to the West Philadelphia community. Through a collaboration with Drexel College of Engineering’s Freedom Rings Partnership and Philadelphia FIGHT, 10 computers will be available at the Dornsife KEYSPOT. Drexel FRP also has partnered with Goodwill Industries to provide training at the lab. Revenue generated from donations collected through the Goodwill bins located on Drexel’s campus will go directly to pay for a Dornsife KEYSPOT computer trainer.

The Open House will feature a raffle, refreshments and an opportunity to tour the lab and meet the instructor. Please register your attendance by clicking here.

KEYSPOT is a citywide collaboration of civic, community and nonprofit organizations including Drexel University, Urban Affairs Coalition and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology. By some estimates one out of two Philadelphians are without Internet or computer access, impeding access to job opportunities, health care and education information, and government and social services. KEYSPOTS has 80 sites citywide to address this need.

Since its launch, the Partnership has:

  • Launched more than 80 KEYSPOTS, offering over 800 new workstations across Philadelphia
  • Provided nearly 200,000 hours of  in-depth training to more than 20,000 participants
  • Served almost 300,000 visitors through free computer access
  • Distributed 5,000 netbooks to PHA residents completing an 8-hour, sweat equity training
  • Saved or created 113 jobs in the region

The Partnership is funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program under the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


The Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships will serve as a resource for sharing expertise and knowledge with the members of the local community. Dedicated to education, problem solving, social entrepreneurship and innovation, it will offer a welcoming environment for local children and families, rich with technology, and fully accessible to senior citizens.

As the venue for Drexel’s research, practice and scholarship, the Dornsife Center will offer space for activities developed and delivered by the University’s participating colleges and schools. Through offerings—such as a free law clinic, health and wellness programming, homework help, arts collaborations, architectural design-build studios and environmental engineering demonstrations—Drexel faculty, students and professional staff will provide service and instruction as they fulfill the requirements of their academic programs.

Expected to open in 2014, the Dornsife Center will be located at 35th and Spring Garden Streets on a vacant site that currently includes two historical properties and a school totaling more than 29,400-square-feet of space.



Ribbon cutting ceremony for first house bought under the Home Purchase Assistance Program

In October 2010, President John Fry announced an enhanced Employee Home Purchase Assistance Program to connect employees and the University to the University City community and be a catalyst for positive change in West Philadelphia.

On April 28, 2011 Drexel Professor of History and Politics George Ciccariello-Maher, his Wife Abbey, and their 15 month old Son Oakley closed on the first home sale under this program. The occasion was celebrated at a May 12th ribbon cutting ceremony where President Fry presented the Family with a novelty check.

The program is offered to all Drexel and College of Medicine faculty and professional staff and includes:

  • $15,000 towards the purchase of a home within defined boundaries
  • $5,000 towards renovations of current homes within defined boundaries
  • Discount mortgage rates and waived application fees with area bank(s)
  • Realty assistance from industry leading agents
  • Discounts on moving services
  • Areas include 31st to 42nd Streets from Chestnut Street to Mantua Avenue





The foundation for a strong neighborhood begins with livable and affordable housing. Drexel is committed to supporting initiatives and programs that encourage and support home ownership and improvement. From a home purchase assistance program for Drexel employees to workshops for residents on completing energy efficient renovations, Drexel provides substantial support to neighborhood homebuyers directly and through partnerships with local developers.

The Drexel Employee Home Purchase Assistance Program is one of the most extensive of its kind in the nation today. Established to encourage and support home ownership within the neighborhoods around the University City Main Campus, the program offers a $15,000 forgivable loan to employees towards the purchase or renovation of homes within defined borders. Drexel also gives Drexel employees who live in the neighborhood a one-time $5,000 home improvement grant for renovations.


  • In 2011, Drexel became one of the first employers to sign-on for the new Home•Buy•Now program, which helps Philadelphia’s workforce to become homeowners. Through the program, the City gives incentives for participating employers to volunteer to provide employees with grants or forgivable loans toward the purchase price of a new home within the city limits and then matches this funding up to $4,000 per home buyer. Drexel employee Dr. Kalatu Davies became the first individual to purchase a home under the new program in July 2011.
  • Drexel joined a collaboration of local partners to help the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which is supporting the redevelopment planning for Mt. Vernon Manor, an assisted housing project in the Mantua neighborhood, with a $250,000 grant. The initiative evaluates the current physical, socio-economic and educational assets of the neighborhood and engages residents and local community groups in a collaborative process to identify areas in need of improvement. Drexel University has committed faculty and administrative expertise to the planning process. Additional local organizations involved in the effort are The Philadelphia Foundation and The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia.