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Kean University

Kean Enhances Community Engagement Through KUBS Program Visit

Students from Kean's KUBS program stand on the basketball court at U Penn

In a significant step toward supporting youth in New Jersey's urban communities, representatives from Kean University's Building Stronger Urban Communities (KUBS) program recently visited the University of Pennsylvania's Netter Center for Community Partnerships to learn strategies for creating social impact through sports.

The purpose of the visit on February 19 was to explore synergies between Kean's KUBS Athletics Program and the Penn Young Quakers Community Athletics Program, a model initiative that has been serving underprivileged students in West Philadelphia for 15 years. The Young Quakers program offers athletics, mentoring and enriching activities to students in grades 4-8, emphasizing youth development, trauma-informed sports practices and transformative experiences.

"Dynamic student-athletes from both institutions shared insights and mentored middle school students from West Philadelphia, demonstrating the impact of community service and engagement," said Joseph Youngblood II, Ph.D., senior vice president of Transformational Learning and External Affairs at Kean.

The Kean team included members of the Kean Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC), the Athletics Department and the Division of Transformational Learning and External Affairs. 

"College athletes have the potential to create dramatic and lasting impact in the local community," said Tanner Ash, a member of SAAC. “Our interactions with the Young Quakers program serve as a model that solidifies Kean University as an institution that transforms not only its students but also the local community.”

The day included a Q&A session with UPenn students and observation of the Young Quakers basketball program, providing Kean representatives with valuable insights into effective community engagement and mentorship through athletics. 

“I really enjoyed seeing the Young Quaker's faces light up the second they walked through the gym to play basketball with the UPenn basketball teams,” said Karly Messina, a member of SAAC. “It was amazing how excited they were to see the returning volunteers.”

The visit to the Netter Center is an important step in the further development of the Kean KUBS program as it works to enhance community engagement and social impact in urban communities throughout New Jersey. 

"I am excited to see how Kean University makes use of what we saw and learned about to make it our own and apply it to our KUBS program," said SAAC member Kayla Brady.

Launched last year, the Kean KUBS program has held several sporting events, including basketball tournaments and volleyball and lacrosse clinics, to connect young people across the area with higher education through athletics.

The insights and experiences gained from the University of Pennsylvania visit will shape new initiatives and programs at Kean that will benefit the local community and beyond.

"The KUBS program and Kean student-athletes are committed to climbing even higher and making a difference in the lives of students in urban communities," said Kean Athletic Director Kelly Williams.

For more information about the KUBS program, contact Michael Shapiro, KUBS coordinator, at