Story: Powel-Science Leadership Academy Middle School

The Sponsor

Drexel University is a private, comprehensive global research university ranked among the top 100 in the nation. Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel is one of the city’s top 10 private employers and a major engine for economic development. Drexel has committed to being the nation’s most civically engaged university.

The Project

Broadstreet committed $7 million of LISC’s New Markets Tax Credit allocation, with PNC as the investor, to construct a new 87,000 SF facility for a permanent home and space to expand Powel Elementary School and Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLA-MS). Powel Elementary, one of the highest-performing elementary schools in Philadelphia, was at 175% capacity and had activities spread across multiple buildings. SLA-MS, which was conceived as the middle school feeder for Powel, opened in 2016 in a temporary space. By co-locating on one campus, “P-SLAMS” will enable the continuity of education from kindergarten through eighth grade. Both schools offer innovative curricula focused on inquiry-based, hands-on learning, and serve a diverse population of students, including children living in homeless shelters and transitional housing.

Recognizing that high-quality public schools are critical to neighborhood stability, Drexel has invested significantly in Powel Elementary, and hosted SLA-MS in its first two years of operations. The new facility is next to Drexel’s campus. In developing classroom projects and curricula, P-SLA-MS will partner with the University and other institutions to access STEM, arts, nursing, and other educational resources.

Impact Statistics

  • $7 M Broadstreet NMTC Allocation
  • 7 Permanent Jobs Created
  • 593 Students Served Annually

The Impact

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, very few students attended school in-person at Powel or SLA-MS in spring 2021. However, the new facility will serve 400 kindergarteners through fourth-grade students in 15 classrooms in Powel and will serve about 400 fifth- through eighth-grade grade students in 14 classrooms and two science labs in SLA-MS. The new school facility includes specially designed spaces to accommodate experimentation and project-based learning. P-SLA-MS, is open to all children in the underserved communities of West Philadelphia, and also provides direct support to their families.