Grants & Initiatives

Financial Outreach Initiative/Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The Financial Outreach Initiative began during the 2002-2003 academic year. The project mission is to organize, implement, and sustain a multi-university project concerned with various forms of asset development for low-income communities in the Philadelphia region.

During the 2010 tax-filing season, students from Swarthmore College and Widener University, along with many community volunteers and agency staff, provided free tax services to 1845 filers who collectively received over $2.7 million in refunds, a 45% increase over 2009. The target audience for this effort is low-income filers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  This credit has been touted to be the most effective way of lifting a family above the federally defined poverty line. In order to accomplish this, we created a special working group, Delaware County Asset Development or “DelCoAD” to oversee this project as well as discuss ongoing issues with regard to asset development in the county.

K-16 Partnerships

Operating under the overall PHENND network, the K-16 Partnerships Network brings together higher ed faculty and staff who manage partnerships with public schools. The focus is two-fold: learn from each other about best practices and models for K-16 partnerships in general and as appropriate, work with the School District of Philadelphia to help improve and expand K-16 partnerships in Philadelphia.


The goal of GEAR UP is to help low-income students attend college by doing intensive college awareness programming beginning while students are in middle school. As part of the School District of Philadelphia’s new GEAR UP grant (2011-2016), PHENND is managing the college student tutor involvement with the AVID program for 25+ middle and high schools across the city.  The School District selected the AVID program as one of its college access and success strategies; the AVID model requires that college student tutors work with small groups of students twice a week during an “AVID” class.  K-16 Partnerships Coordinator Liz Shriver works with local colleges to identify, recruit, train, place, and manage 75+ college student tutors for this program.