City Semester Philadelphia

Questions and Answers for Community Partners

What is the Penn State City Semester Philadelphia Program?

The Penn State City Semester Philadelphia is a unique semester-long, affordable, urban, educational experience for Penn State students. Students will be placed with community partners that have been chosen based on Penn State Center Philadelphia’s mission of advancing equity, inclusion, and quality of life. In-depth, community-based learning while residing in Philadelphia for the entire semester offers transformative learning experiences.

What are the curriculum and community placement options?

Based on feedback, we have identified the following options to meet community partner and student needs.

A required 6-12- credit field experience/practicum for a 20-40 hour field placement with a local community partner

A 3- credit general education course: CI185: Principals of Social Justice in Education

Optional 3 – 9- credits of on-line coursework to fulfill major or minor requirements

How can a community partner participate?

This program offers community partners knowledgeable boots-on-the-ground 2nd through 4th year students. Students will come from various majors and minors such as human development and family services, rehabilitation and human services, education and public policy, bio-behavioral health, special education, health policy and administration, curriculum and instruction, landscape architecture, geography, recreation/ parks/ and tourism management, community/environment/development, business and sustainability to name a few.  Penn State will provide the community partner with the student best matched to carry out the desired community impact for their scope of work/project.

How can a community partner participate?

In order for a community partner to be considered for future student placements, the community partner will need to submit a project proposal. Information for the proposal will include: organization’s name, project supervisor, project overview, desired student skills, desired student availability per week, resources offered to the student, desired project results, and community impact. We are accepting partner project proposals on an open, rolling basis.

Please direct any inquiries as well as the proposal submission to Shivaani Selvaraj at the Penn State Center Philadelphia at shivaani(at)

How many hours per week will the student be available for community placement work? How many students will be placed per community/project? Can the community placement be multi-semester in duration?

The community placement will range from 20-40 hours depending on the option chosen by the student. Depending on the number of interested community partners, and the scope of work for projects, it is possible for more than one student to be placed with one community partner. Projects lasting longer than one semester are permitted as long as each semester’s work is discrete, understandable, and doable by the subsequently assigned students.

Who matches the student with community partner’s needs? What kind of student skills can be expected by community partners? If there are HR or performance issues, who is responsible?

From a pool of program students, Penn State will offer the best student match, based on the community partner’s scope of work/project. Student expertise will be in the areas of human development and family services; rehabilitation and human services; education and public policy; bio-behavioral health; special education; health policy and administration and curriculum and instruction. Minimum technology skills will include full knowledge of Microsoft Office and most social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Community Engagement Specialist at the Penn State Center Philadelphia is responsible for addressing any HR or performance issues. Community partners are required to participate in an orientation meeting prior to placement and post placement evaluations. The Community Engagement Specialist will be in regular contact with the partner organization to discuss any issues and she will meet regularly with the students during placement.

If placed with a community organization, will the students be paid?

There is no cost to the community partner for the student placement of 10-20 hours or 35-40 hours per week. Community partners are encouraged to submit their project proposals and request to be paired with a qualified Penn State student at no cost. In subsequent semesters, Penn State may explore options for both paid and unpaid placements, along with sponsored fellowships.

During community placement, who is responsible for liability? Are any restrictions placed on where a student can work or the work content?

The University’s insurance does not extend to cover the student’s actions while the student is working for the community site. If the community site requires liability insurance, the site needs to inform the student of this requirement as soon as possible so that the student can purchase the required insurance and verify that it was purchased.