Temple’s University College and Southwest Belmont Community Association, Inc.: Partnering to Promote Diversity, Accessibility and Success

Southwest Belmont Leadership team

To understand how deeply committed the Southwest Belmont Community Association, Inc. (SWBCA) is to empowering and uplifting underserved neighborhoods in the Philadelphia region, all you need to do is look at their history and their continuing mission.

“Our mission has been to empower youth, adults and families to promote a positive self-image and to develop their capacity to be effective leaders, communicate with efficacy and strengthen family systems,” said Charmayne Purnell, President of the SWBCA Board of Directors, an organization that traces its founding to 1870.

Purnell said she became part of SWBCA “because of its commitment to community.” 

“Anne M. Garrott (a civic activist in Philadelphia and the leader of SWBCA for more than 50 years) was the driving force behind our core programs — leadership development for women and youth; after school and summer camps for youth; and cultural arts built on SWBCA’s Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes outstanding Black women from this community,” she said.

Purnell said a new partnership with University College at Temple University — which includes a $50,000 endowed fund established by SWBCA — “will allow us to expand our ongoing mission and vision.”

“I see our role as being a facilitator to hopefully identify community needs and determine ways to address them,” said Purnell, whose granddaughter is a recent Temple graduate.

The endowed fund was formally established in early 2020 as Angela Davis, Assistant Dean of Development for University College, worked closely with leadership of both partners to identify programs that would provide the most benefit to students and children living in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Davis joined the SWBCA Board of Directors in 2015. 

The purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance for low-income children and students in pre-K through 12th grade from diverse backgrounds in and around the city of Philadelphia to enable them to attend community programs sponsored by University College — programs may be hosted at any of the University’s campuses in and around the Philadelphia area.

“The Southwest Belmont Community Association is an organization that completely aligns with University College’s values and goals,” said Dr. Vicki Lewis McGarvey, Vice Provost of University College, which includes the Temple University Ambler, Harrisburg and Center City campuses, Summer and Special Programs, Digital Education, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), the Real Estate Institute and ProRanger Philadelphia. “For decades, the Temple units that comprise University College have been providing programs designed to lift up, educate and inspire. We are grateful to have this opportunity to partner with SWBCA to bring new and exciting programs that are both educational and fun to a diverse group of students and their families.

This isn’t the first time that Southwest Belmont Community Association has provided support to Temple. The organization provided sponsorship for Temple Ambler EarthFest’s Transportation Angels program, which gives financial support to schools to help with travel expenses to attend EarthFest environmental and STEM programming.

SWBCA has also been a sponsor of Temple Ambler in Bloom, the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University’s annual fundraiser. The gardens at the Ambler Campus provide a wealth of educational opportunities for children from a diversity of backgrounds, ages and experiences

According to Nicole Westrick, Associate Vice Provost for University College, funding will be used in part to offer financial aid for children in need to attend summer camps located at Temple University Ambler and Main Campus and other pre-K to 12th grade-focused programming, such as pre-college experiences, held at various Temple locations.

The partnership between Temple and Southwest Belmont is all about “opening up opportunity and unlocking potential,” said SWBCA Recording Secretary Francine Cheeks. 

“You never know the potential of a child until you give him or her the chance to fully explore and unlock what is inside of each one,” she said. “Every child has the opportunity to do great things if given the opportunity to live up to their potential.”