West Park Cultural Center (WPCC) was established in 2001 to address the lack of affordable, high-quality programs for the community’s children, youth, and families. The absence of programs and structured activities during the summer put children at risk. To provide them with a safe and engaging environment, we launched Camp Ginkgo, a summer arts and nature program, in July 2002. In 2006, Camp Ginkgo began a long partnership with the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, serving as the camp’s program venue.

In September 2006, after losing its home base, WPCC was invited to locate its afterschool programming at the newly opened High School of the Future. This move enabled West Park Cultural Center to become the school’s resident community partner, providing the community with the only consistent access to the school. All afterschool programs that WPCC offered at the School of the Future were open to children and youth throughout the community aged 6-18.

In 2008, WPCC launched the West Park Arts Fest, a family-friendly event that has since become a signature event of West Fairmount Park. Under the theme ‘Friends Across Cultures,’ this annual event brings together arts, cultural, and community partners to celebrate Philadelphia’s arts, cultural diversity, and talent. It also serves as a platform to promote greater awareness of our city park and the area’s history and heritage, fostering a sense of community and cultural exchange.

In June 2010, WPCC was honored with the Crimson and Gold Award by Microsoft and the School of the Future for our work with the school and the community. This recognition was a testament to our commitment and impact. Additionally, we were one of nine arts organizations in Philadelphia to receive a Philadelphia Cultural Fund Youth Arts Enrichment Grant. This grant empowered us to create and pilot the Arts for Literacy initiative, significantly improving language arts skills and fostering a love for the arts among classroom learners.

In May 2015, the Franklin Institute selected the WPCC after-school youth arts program as one of twelve programs/organizations across the city to participate in their “Students Making a Difference” event. This event allowed our program participants to showcase their social, artistic, and educational growth.

Over the last seventeen years, the organization has been providing out-of-school time programming in multiple locations, maintaining valuable venue partnerships throughout and near West Philadelphia. In addition to the School of the Future and the Horticulture Center, program venues have included the Community Education Center (CEC), John Anderson Cultural Center, Martha Washington School, Alain Locke School, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Parkside Evans Recreation Center, and the Dornsief Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

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