A Southwest Philly high school is partnering with CHOP to guarantee jobs for graduates

The partnership will prepare Hardy Williams Academy Mastery Charter School graduates for full-time positions at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Madeline Bell speaking at a press conference

Madeline Bell, president of CHOP announces the partnership between Mastery Hardy Williams H.S. and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. (Courtesy of CHOP)

From Philly and the Pa. suburbs to South Jersey and Delaware, what would you like WHYY News to cover? Let us know!

A partnership between Hardy Williams Academy Mastery Charter School (HWAMCS) and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recently received a $19.6 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The money will facilitate the development of a curriculum that will prepare HWAMCS graduates for full-time positions at CHOP.

The school is one of 10 selected in urban and rural areas as part of a $250 million health care education initiative by Bloomberg Philanthropies announced in January. The initiative will target about 6,000 students in underserved communities in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Nashville and New York City, along with rural areas in Alabama and Tennessee.

“We are one of 10 schools across the country to receive this incredible grant, infusing millions of dollars into a community that is starving for these types of resources,” said Justin Meltzer, HWAMCS principal.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Elizabeth Polk, a junior at HWAMCS, is enrolled in the CHOP Rises program that introduces students to health care careers. By September 2025, she and more than 600 students spanning grades 7 through 12 will have the opportunity to attend the new multidisciplinary program, which offers training for positions such as certified medical assistants, lab technicians and hospital administration support staff. The students will also have the opportunity to learn from CHOP practitioners, engage in paid internships and earn college credits.

“I am very confident that this will do a lot for our students because I know a lot of friends of mine who are interested in health care and want to be midwives, nurses or even doctors and this will give them the opportunity,” Polk said. “I know that CHOP offers amazing things for someone who takes the opportunity.”

In Philadelphia, CHOP employs about 25,000 people and is one of the city’s top employers.

In 2020, the Philadelphia School District noted in its 2018-19 School Progress Report that HWAMCS, previously known as Shaw Middle School, demonstrated consecutive years of academic advancement.

About 150 people attended the announcement, including government and school officials.

Madeline Bell, CHOP president, said during the award announcement ceremony held on April 5, that about 2 million jobs in health care go vacant each year and the number is expected to rise in the future. In Pennsylvania, the shortages are especially dire, she said. Just in nursing, 32% of the workforce is likely to leave their positions in the next several years, she said.

“The Bloomberg initiative will help us address these shortages,” Bell said. “This program is important to me and important to the mission of Children’s Hospital. We offer more than 100 community programs that are trying to create healthier families, stronger schools, successful businesses and thriving neighborhoods.”

Joanna McClinton, the Speaker of the House representing the 191st District, who was also present at the announcement along with Joel Boyd, Mastery Schools CEO; Howard Wolfson, education program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies; Debora Carrera, chief education officer, city of Philadelphia; City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, D-4th District, who represents the area; along with several government officials and community members. McClinton said that her mother’s first job in the city was as a clerk at CHOP, where she established a support group for parents of children with sickle cell anemia.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“To know that our children have a pathway to self-sufficiency — we can all talk about intergenerational poverty, but the only way to break that intergenerational poverty is to have opportunities at your fingertips,” McClinton said. “There are children in this building right now who know they want to help people. These students can go from an entry-level position to a career that can span decades.”

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal