Water: A Critical Resource

Supporting the Water Center


Urban Water Challenges

Urban water crises make frequent headlines, with cities like Flint and Newark grappling with water quality issues while Chennai and Cape Town, among others, face water shortages. These crises are inextricably tied to issues of climate change and social inequality.

Industry and Academic Expertise

The Water Center is unique in its combination of industry expertise and scholarly insight. Through partnerships with water professionals and researchers alike, the center works toward actionable, evidence-based solutions. The Water Center prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, collaboration, and communication in its research, annual conferences, public events and the peer-reviewed wH2O: Journal of Gender and Water, and aims to become an internationally recognized hub for providing integrated real-world solutions to critical urban water challenges.

Howard Neukrug (center), Professor of Practice in Earth and Environmental Science and Executive Director of the Water Center, and members of the Water Center team take a delegation from PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, on a tour of Penn’s green stormwater infrastructure. The group also held a conference discussing the need for a holistic and sustainable approach to urban water resource management.

Engaging Students

The center recognizes the important role of students from Penn, as well as from the surrounding community, in solving regional, national, and global environmental challenges, and has several initiatives designed to educate the next generation of water scholars and industry professionals. Research fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students grow the community of water scholars at Penn, while a community engagement program will promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and create dialogue between Penn and its neighbors in West Philadelphia.

Members of the Water Center team, students, and University staff meet with federal, state, and local stakeholders at an abandoned mine site in the headwaters of the Schuylkill River to discuss collaboration on a remediation project to improve water quality.


Giving Opportunties

The Water Center at Penn Arts & Sciences is committed to finding sustainable and equitable solutions to urban water challenges. The transdisciplinary applied research center focuses on policy, innovation, science, community engagement, and environmental justice to address the biggest challenges facing urban water systems and ensure the right to clean, safe water for all.

Endow and name the Water Center with a gift of $8 million

A naming gift to endow the center would provide a perpetual funding stream and secure its permanent home within Penn Arts & Sciences.

Endow and name the Water Center executive directorship with a gift of $2 million

A gift to endow the center directorship will associate the donor’s name with the program’s academic leadership in perpetuity.

Support the industry and faculty fellows program

The Water Center will bring together an elite cohort of industry and academic experts for transdisciplinary, applied research to bring scalable solutions to the water sector. Fellows will work together, conduct seminars, participate in an annual conference, and undertake industry and community outreach.

A gift of $120,000 supports one industry fellowship for one year; a term gift of $600,000 supports five years of industry fellowships. A gift of $25,000 funds one faculty fellowship for one year; a gift of $125,000 funds five faculty fellows for one year; and a term gift of $625,000 supports five faculty fellows for five years.

Support the annual water innovation and equity conference

This conference will bring together thought leaders, researchers, and students to discuss equity and environmental justice issues as essential components of the holistic approach necessary to solve urban water challenges.

A gift of $40,000 funds the conference for one year; a term gift of $200,000 funds the conference for five years.

Support wH2O: Journal of Gender and Water

Based at Penn, wH2O: Journal of Gender and Water is a peer-reviewed journal and centralized hub for scholarship of gender related water issues, sanitation and hygiene, and gender equity in the water sector, among other topics. Support provides funding for the journal’s publication and related programs.

A gift of $15,000 funds wH2O: Journal of Gender and Water for one year; a term gift of $75,000 funds the journal for five years.

Support STEM education in West Philadelphia

Support for a water-centric community engagement research program would allow Penn faculty and students to collaborate with community institutions and organizations to create STEM programming for local students.

A gift of $60,000 funds the STEM education program for one year; a term gift of $300,000 funds the program for five years.

Support student and faculty research

Research fellowships provided to undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty provide support for the study of a wide range of environmental, financial, and social issues that must be overcome in order to ensure access to clean drinking water as a human right.

Gifts supporting student and faculty research exist at different levels ranging from $3,000 to $25,000 for annual fellowships. A gift of $175,000 supports a comprehensive research program for one year. Lower level gifts may support individual research grants to faculty and student cohorts.

The Water Center hosts a speaker series for Penn students, faculty, staff, and guests on a wide range of water topics including drinking water contaminants, wastewater management, integrated watershed management, and environmental justice, among other topics.


To learn more about supporting the Water Center, please contact Deb Rhebergen, Vice Dean for Advancement, at drheberg@sas.upenn.edu.