The Lenfest Foundation Makes Significant New Investment in WPSI

The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) | A graduate working as a patient sitter

University City District is pleased to share that earlier this month, the Lenfest Foundation awarded us $500,000 to help fuel the continued growth of our West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) job training subsidiary.


This new gift of $500,000 pushes the total support from Lenfest to UCD and UCD’s partners to $5.9 million over five years. “The Lenfest Foundation’s impact on our organization has been profound,” says Matt Bergheiser, President of University City District. “Moreover, their impact on the lives and livelihoods of local workers fighting to gain a foothold in the labor market has been transformative. The Foundation has been a generous and unwavering partner, and we are truly grateful.”


The support from Lenfest will aid WPSI’s growth plan, focused on three pillars: accelerating job quality for WPSI graduates, including an intensive focus on continuing education and post-secondary degree opportunities; expanding program delivery mechanisms, leveraging the online curricula developed in response to COVID-19; and expanding WPSI’s geographic footprint, building on the fledgling partnership with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC ) to engage employers and local talent at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.


“The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative is a gold standard for employer-driven workforce efforts,” says Dr. Keith Leaphart, Chairman of the Lenfest Foundation. “We are thrilled to continue to support the expansion of a proven model to connect talented Philadelphians to life-changing jobs, particularly in a time of deep economic distress.”


Recent partnerships include training programs for emergency medical technicians with Drexel University, for lab assistants at Penn Medicine, and for landscape technicians with Four Seasons Total Landscaping in partnership with PIDC and the Navy Yard. Recruitment is currently underway to offer no-cost Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training and job opportunities as bus operators working with SEPTA, and planned partnerships in 2021 include CHOP, Penn Medicine, Philly Shipyard, Rhoads Industries, Keystone Quality Transports, American Medical Response, and Good Shepherd Penn Partners.


We are so grateful to the Lenfest Foundation for helping to fuel the incredible talent in West Philadelphia. Partners like them make our crucial work possible.