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CCP and Parx Casino Work to Eliminate Barriers, Build On the Strengths of Philly's Students

Community College of Philadelphia and Parx Casino recently announced a diversity partnership that will help fund support services for students who are veterans, LGBTQ, women and members of underserved communities.

The partnership, which includes a gift in the amount $102,000 over three years from Parx, is designed to guide and mentor students who often face constant personal, emotional and academic hurdles while in college.

In addition, employees from Parx Casino will personally mentor students from these areas.

“The College is addressing the disparities in student success with promising practices tailored to support students’ individual needs, including those that provide bridges to degree completion and supports that anchor students when tough times arrive,” said Dr. Donald Guy Generals, president of the College. “Students need to have an environment that is conducive to their interests, that is sensitive to their needs and really paves the way and enlightens them to the importance of doing well, not just in the classroom, but in preparation for going into the classroom.”

Ron Davis, director of Diversity and Community Affairs at Parx Casino and one of the growing legions of current and former NFL players now tackling educational equity, has been mentoring young men at the College for several years.

He sees the same potential in them that others once saw in him. “I was one of those students. I went to Virginia State University. I was a "C" student in college and somebody reached out to me and helped me, so this is a way of giving back,” Davis said. “We have a responsibility to share our success with the community. We’ve done that since we opened our doors in 2006. Corporate responsibility is community responsibility…we’re hoping that other corporations join this initiative at some point to help begin a gateway of growth within the College’s community.”

When Philadelphia Mayor James F. Kenney released his comprehensive workforce strategy last month, he urged the city’s corporate leaders to get involved in the community and find ways to address the underlying barriers that hinder access to career opportunities.

“Parx Casino has gone far beyond providing scholarships and funding,” Dr. Generals said. “They bring caring leaders to our campus who make a huge difference in our students’ lives.”

During the celebration, Ismail Ebo, a recent graduate of the College who gained mentors and advocates at the College’s Center for Male Engagement (CME), said these programs instill confidence, and provide a vital support network.

“They put faith in us as young men who, if left to the system, would be out in the street or in jail,” he said.