While Drexel University works to expand its capacities and improve its reputation with projects like the construction of a new business school, and new housing at the $97.6M Chestnut Square, it’s also looking to better its capacities for community outreach.

Last month, Drexel announced plans for The Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, thanks to a recent $10M gift from the Dornsife family. The Center will direct resources from across the university and channel them to focus on a range of issues that includes health care, the struggles of small businesses, troubling homeowner problems like mold and overall quality of life issues in West Philadelphia.

Dornsife site

Expected to open in 2014, the 29K sqft-plus building will be constructed on the north side of Spring Garden Street, between 35th and 36th Streets. In order to create the Center, the University will build new construction and also renovate the 1.3 acre site’s three existing buildings, an empty school and two vacant administrative buildings. The mission of the building is dedicated to education, problem solving, social entrepreneurship and innovation, and it will offer a welcoming environment for local children and families, rich with technology, and fully accessible to senior citizens, according to a press release. In addition, it will host a free law clinic, health and wellness programming and architectural design-build studios, as well as serve to strengthen Drexel’s K-12 educational initiatives with various local schools and institutions.

From 35th Street

Closer look at one of the existing buildings

Dana Dornsife, raised in Bucks County, is a 1983 LeBow graduate. She joins the ranks of countless other Philadelphia-area born magnates that have donated to their alma mater, like, for example, 1958 Saint Joseph’s Graduate James S. Maguire, who has donated more than $15M to assist the school’s purchase of Episcopal Academy, near doubling the size of Saint Joe’s.

It is lovely news to see folks educated in town providing massive financial help to projects that will only serve to enhance Philadelphia’s reputation as a city with world-class educational opportunities, but also as a developing city still on the rise. And check out some of Drexel’s master plan, to see what the Blue Dragon higher ups are envisioning for the 21st century.

–Lou Mancinelli