FACT Course Spotlight: The Welcoming Center

Five people sit around a table listening to the presenter of the International Professionals Program

International Professionals Program

The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, located in Center City, works to streamline services and resources for new immigrants in order to make it easier for them to gain access to everything they need to be successful in their transition to the United States.

The Welcoming Center was founded by Anne O’Callaghan in 2003, who found it difficult to navigate the U.S.  when she first arrived decades earlier. She wanted to change the system; she envisioned “a centralized resource center for immigrants,” where they would easily have access to services that would help them prosper in the United States, such as ESOL classes, job guidance, small business support, and more.

The Welcoming Center strongly believes that the constant flow of “new customers, workers, and entrepreneurs can invigorate Pennsylvania’s aging population, renew its neighborhoods, and re-energize our economy,” as stated on their website. Supporting immigrants in Pennsylvania will help us as a state become more innovative, artistic, and a more productive member in the global economy.

Five people of sit around a table with paper and pens in a writing class with a teacher in an orange sweater and glasses at a large television screen

English for Entrepreneurs class

The FACE Office is excited to showcase the Welcoming Center as one of the organizations participating in Family Academy: Courses and Training (FACT)!  Their course focuses on navigating career pathways regardless of one’s past. It helps people think about making a plan for the future and how to connect with neighborhood resources. Nicole Pumphrey, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Welcoming Center, said her organization was eager to get involved with FACT because “the School District of Philadelphia is the way to connect with families and communities.”

Ms. Pumphrey points out that the District “thinks about the whole family, not just parents and students.”

FACT fits with the Welcoming Center’s mission to provide services, resources, and guidance to a diverse population. Of course, participants shouldn’t expect to get everything out of only one workshop.  “It’s just the beginning, the start of building a relationship,” Ms. Pumphrey commented about the FACT workshop. People who are interested in learning more about what the Welcoming Center has to offer should go down to the organization’s office in One Penn Center.

The Welcoming Center offers a variety of programs and services, such as:

  • English classes that span from beginning grammar to professional writing
  • ABE, GED, and Vocational Literacy classes
  • Business technical assistance to help entrepreneurs starts a new business or expand an existing business
  • Small business workshops, business training classes, and English classes especially for entrepreneurs
  • Employment services that help individuals find and establish meaningful employment in the U.S.
  • International Professionals Program that helps immigrants with foreign college degrees re-establish their careers in the U.S.
  • Citizenship classes
  • Immigrant Leadership Institute that prepares foreign-born residents of Greater Philadelphia to engage in the civic life of the city and the region
  • Monthly legal clinics that provide advice about immigration and other issues
Individuals sit at tables facing the front of a room with vibrant blue walls and images that has a tv screen that says "Global Brains of Philly" on it and two women present to them.

Networking workshop

The Welcoming Center’s FACT workshop about navigating career pathways was just a small taste of what the organization has to offer.  The content for the workshop was designed to be adaptable to many different people in many different situations, much like a lot of the services and programs offered at the Welcoming Center’s office in Center City.  Those interested in receiving more information about the services the Welcoming Center offers should feel free to visit its website: welcomingcenter.org.

Are you passionate about helping immigrants adjust to their new lives in Pennsylvania? Do you have business or mentoring skills you’d like to share? The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians is always looking for volunteers who share passion for its cause and wish to get more involved. If you are interested in volunteering, check out the Welcoming Center’s Volunteer website to see if any volunteer opportunities interest you.

Any level of commitment is welcome! You can contact the Welcoming Center by calling (215)-557-2626 or emailing info@welcomingcenter.org.

The FACE Office and FACT are thrilled to be working with the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians!  To sign up for other FACT courses, visit https://www.philasd.org/face/fact.