Aquinas Center: The Community Literacies Project
1700 Fernon St.
Philadelphia, PA 19145
Aquinas Center, a former convent, was re-purposed to be a welcoming place that offered mutual support to foster understanding across cultural divides. Aside from the Aquinas Center, there are few places where undocumented immigrants and new refugees, as well as longtime residents, can gather to learn from each other and to grow together as a community. The Community Literacies Project at the Aquinas Center was founded by Dr. Gerald Campono, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. The program has brought together doctoral and master’s students from the Reading/Writing/Literacy program at the University of Pennsylvania with community members from St. Thomas Aquinas to support educational access across the various linguistic and cultural communities of the parish. Programs have included: a family literacy night, an afterschool comics group, a girls of color writing club, a Penn-Pal letter exchange between Master’s students and local kids, an Inquiry into College with young children and another with older youth, a family literacy/ESOL class with Latina mothers, adult ESOL, and a literacy project where youth learned research methods.