A team from the University of Pennsylvania has been named the winner of the fall 2014 Philadelphia Public Policy Case Competition hosted by the City of Philadelphia. The winning team, Elizabeth Farwell and Alounso Gilzene, are both students in Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Their proposal, “Peer Mentor Academic Academy,” addressed the question: “What can the City of Philadelphia do to prevent the greatest number of students from dropping out of high school?”
Farwell and Gilzene’s “Peer Mentor Academy” proposes training high school juniors and seniors to mentor freshmen. The mentors would earn course credit in return for helping the ninth graders in problem-solving, note-taking, accepting consequences and studying.
The proposal was chosen from 11 submissions by teams from Drexel University, Philadelphia University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University and Penn.
“This competition,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said, “is a way for young people to participate and truly engage in the civic process and present ideas that can be implemented to help solve the very complicated and long-standing problem of low academic success in Philadelphia. I would like to congratulate Elizabeth and Alounso for their winning presentation, and I look forward to meeting them to discuss their proposal.”
The case competition was managed by the Mayor’s Office of Policy Planning and Coordination and the Mayor’s Office of Education and was co-sponsored by Campus Philly and Penn’s Office of Government & Community Affairs and Fels Institute of Government. The sponsors were not involved in the selection process for the finalists.
David Thornburgh, executive director of Fels, said, “The Fels Institute of Government was proud to co-sponsor the Public Policy Case Competition, which worked to inspire students to think creatively about how local governments can create and analyze solutions to large-scale challenges.”
Jeffrey Cooper, vice president of the Penn Office of Government & Community Affairs, said “Our office was happy to work with the City of Philadelphia and co-sponsor this competition, which gave local students the opportunity to engage directly with their government and have their ideas heard by community leaders.”
As the winners, Farwell and Gilzene will receive a meeting with Nutter and tickets to the Mayor’s Box for a Philadelphia 76ers game.