The Germination Project is creating a self-sustaining, and perpetuating ecosystem for Philadelphia’s next generation of leadership. The Germination Project seeks to catalyze and energize an elite cadre of ambitious young men and women, brought together by their talent, drive and commitment to putting their gifts into service for the benefit of our city, our nation, and wherever their vision and ambition may lead them.
Recruiting the best and brightest 10th graders in the region—regardless of socioeconomic circumstance— into a dynamic and lasting fellowship, by helping our Fellows to develop strong, reciprocal relationships with the individuals, organizations and institutions already at the vanguard of the struggle for shared prosperity, the Germination Project offers a lifetime’s worth of opportunities in exchange for a promise by the Fellows to pay those opportunities forward.
The Germination Project’s objective is not to sew the proverbial seeds of change, but to empower a new class of farmers. We do not insist that our fellows commit to any one particular cause or initiative; rather, the Germination Project’s intention is to provide the skills, insights, judgment and confidents to choose their own crops to cultivate. The Germination Project asks of its fellows only that they dream big and set out to change the world in proportionate measure.
The Summer Leadership Boot Camp
The Summer Leadership Boot Camp, a two-week program originally designed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business/Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and now residing under the auspices of Penn Medicine, aims to inspire our Fellows to maximize their individual potential and ability to make a broad positive impact on the world through a two-fold approach of leadership development and social entrepreneurial skills development. Under the guidance and direction of experienced professors and guest lecturers, the Fellows, individually and collectively, undertake a range of experiential learning opportunities designed to develop the leadership skills needed to thrive as leaders.
As immersive and intensive as it is, the Summer Leadership Boot Camp does not serve solely as a crash course in one or another academic discipline. Just as central to the Boot Camp experience is the Fellows’ exposure to and interaction with their predecessors in excellence. Here, by way of just one example, the Germination Project Fellows undertake both rigorous thought experiments and casual conversations with Dr. Robert Vonderheide, Dr. Carl June and Dr. Bruce Levine, all pioneers in the revolutionary field of cancer immunotherapy research at Penn Medicine.
By the conclusion of the Summer Leadership Boot Camp, the Fellows emerge not only with a stronger grasp of the dedication, imagination and grit needed to pursue solutions to global problems, but with a sense having recognized something of themselves in their trailblazing mentors.
Through their involvement in specially-designed service initiatives, Germination Project Fellows have the unique opportunity to work alongside leaders from a variety of prominent forward-thinking organizations, companies and academic institutions. Fellows gain invaluable experience working to identify, understand and develop strategies to key issues and problems that impact the lives of Philadelphians and the world at large.
The next generation of our regions’ leaders needs strong academic skills to succeed, yet thousands of students lack the basic literacy skills necessary to graduate from high school. Recognizing that disparity, the Germination Project Fellows undertook a literacy initiative to launch the immediate action necessary to equip all Philadelphia students with the literacy tools they need to succeed. In partnership with Achieve Now, the Fellows developed literacy curriculum whose content and delivery method were research-based, data-driven and geared toward systematically moving students to grade level reading. Over the course of an academic year, the Fellows coached elementary school students to reading fluency, giving them the opportunity to pay it forward.
Healthcare Access Initiative
For too many low-income Philadelphians, the abundant medical service facilities and resources that this city boasts are out of reach, whether due to geographic and transportation barriers or prohibitions of cost. The Germination Project’s Healthcare Access Initiative is an ongoing, dynamic program of education, community awareness and intervention, through which Fellows are empowered by the institutional expertise of Penn Medicine, Temple University Hospital, Jefferson University, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) to engage directly with both top medical research faculty and Philadelphia’s most underserved communities. with local healthcare systems to establish a mobile health clinic (MHC) targeting Philadelphia’s most underserved communities. Since the launch of the Healthcare Access Initiative, Germination Project Fellows have partnered with AHA to provide life-saving CPR training to underserved communities around Philadelphia, and even traveled to Harrisburg to lobby the state legislature to make CPR training a high school graduation requirement. The Fellows have also worked with CHoP to develop targeted educational programs on healthy eating practices to combat childhood obesity, heart disease, and other serious diet-related health issues in Philadelphia. Individual Fellows have completed internships with leading medical researchers like Jefferson’s Dr. Lorraine Iacovetti, exploring groundbreaking treatments for neurodegenerative disease. And as Philadelphia emerges as a leading hub of med tech and applied medical artificial intelligence, Fellows will continue to work alongside the pioneers in the field, both learning and gaining experience they might soon integrate into their own professional careers.
Public Markets Initiative
Each year, the current class of Germination Project Fellows treks to New York City to spend the day at the New York Stock Exchange. The field trip is not just an opportunity to ring the bell and gaze at the omnipresent scrolling chyrons announcing the minute by minute vagaries of the stock market. Rather, the Fellows are given an immersive experience, learning not only about the history of American capital, but the present and future of capital markets in increasingly uncertain times. Fellows routinely describe the NYSE trip as one of the most illuminating and eye-opening of their young lives. The understanding they gain of the financial machinations that influence and dictate so many aspects of daily life is profound, reconfiguring their perspective on economics and society, and providing a foundation to more fully comprehend the causes, effects and solutions to the rampant economic inequality facing our country.
Draft Day Gala
The annual Draft Day Gala is the Germination Project’s flagship public-facing event. Combining the glamour of a society ball with the energy, excitement and drama of the NBA draft, the Gala introduces the newest class of Germination Project Fellows to the region’s civic community, and provides an early affirmation both of the esteem in which we hold them and the expectations set upon their future achievement. The Gala is also an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the Philadelphia’s established civic leaders. With the presentation of the annual ICON Award, the Germination Project honors luminaries in medicine, business and philanthropy, recognizing their accomplishments and inspiring our next generation of trail blazers.
As the scope and ambition of the Germination Project has evolved over the years, even as our foundational principles endure, we have expanded eligibility for participation in the Germination Project to include schools beyond those within Philadelphia proper and the immediate suburb. Nevertheless, we remain indebted to those schools that partnered with the Germination Project in our earliest iteration, providing both invaluable consultation and our first classes of Germination Project Fellows, who set the high standard of excellence to which all subsequent Fellow classes have aspired. The Germination Project’s Legacy Partner Schools are:
Central High School
George Washington High School
Julia R. Masterman School
Neumann and Goretti High School
Parkway Center City
Pennsbury High School
Swenson Arts and Technology High School
The Shipley School
Friends of the Germination Project
Sashi P. Reddi
The Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation
The Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation is committed to re-establishing Philadelphia as a global force in policy, commerce and culture. With its foundational support of strategically selected philanthropic initiatives, the Raju Foundation employs a unique interdisciplinary approach to the greater development of Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Among the Raju Foundation’s principal enterprises is the Germination Project, a catalytic incubator and ecosystem for Philadelphia’s next generation of business, political and civic leaders, drawn from the best and brightest of Philadelphia’s high school students. In addition to its civic leadership and education endeavors, the Raju Foundation is a leading supporter of arts and culture and Philadelphia. The Foundation’s successful efforts both to promote Philadelphia’s robust and growing creative community and to attract leading artists and patrons from around the world have opened new cultural and commercial trade routes, putting Philadelphia on the map as a truly cosmopolitan city and as a promising destination for global investment. Underpinning each of the Raju Foundation’s initiatives is the conviction that recapturing and cultivating the very traits that made Philadelphia a historically great city will ensure its bright and thriving future.