Program Description

Established by Penn's Center for Public Health Initiatives in 2011, Service Link sends pre-health and health professional students to the J. Edwin Wood Clinic at Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Family Care at Penn Presbyterian, Penn Center for Primary Care Refugee Clinic, and the Sayre Health Center, where volunteers play a vital role in helping health care providers address patients' non-medical determinants of health.

At the sites, volunteers work closely with patients in an intimate setting to secure basic living and health needs. Service Link's dedicated volunteers represent undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, medical, MPH, and law students

  • Service Link's overall mission is to improve the health of low-income patients in Philadelphia by linking them with a variety of benefits that they have a right to attain under current US legislation.
  • Service Link focuses on addressing the social determinants of health through education and community engagement.
What we do

Link patient to public benefits

  • Complete public benefits applications (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medical Assistance, Energy Assistance)

Facilitate “Know Your Rights Clinics”

  • Clinic-based, free events featuring attorneys and law students who advise on health-related legal issues

Patient Navigation

  • Assist with specialty care appointments & establish communication channels with the larger healthcare system

Advocacy & Education

    • Deliver literacy appropriate patient educational materials
    • Assist patients in reviewing and understanding provider instructions for prescriptions and follow-up care
    • Assist with prescription assistance applications
    • Assist with transportation assistance

To see the conceptual approach for Service Link, click here. Our model builds on a model first initiated by the successful Health Leads program headquartered in Boston. Service Link has over 40 volunteers and is organized by a medical student graduate group recognized by GAPSA, as well as by an undergraduate student group recognized by CHAC.

Volunteers are trained by representatives of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, the Family Planning Council, LIFT, and Penn faculty.


Neel Koyawala - Director of Operations and Communication, Clinic Liaison for Penn Family Care/CHAC Representative
Adam Akpinar - Post-bac student representative, Clinic Liaison for J. Edwin Wood Clinic
Tara McDowell - MPH student representative, Clinic Liaison for PCPC Refugee Clinic
Matthew Gerber - Representative for Penn Law/Toll Center for Public Interest
Meera Ramakrishnan - Medical School/GAPSA Representative, Director of Resources
Erica Von Stein - Medical School/GAPSA Representative, General Board Member
Connie (YiHui) Jiang - Co-Director of Data & Evaluation
Edward Gu - Co-Director of Data & Evaluation
Stefanie Rohde - Director of Volunteer Development & Training
Krushee Patel - General Board Member


Penn Law School
Penn Perelman School of Medicine
Penn Master of Public Health Program
Undergraduate Programs

Spring Recruitment

Service Link is a great opportunity to interact with patients and make a significant difference in their lives.

Volunteers should be prepared to dedicate 4 hour blocks at least twice per month to the program and must attend a mandatory training on January 31st, from2-5pm.

To apply, please complete an application by 11:59pm on January 26th.

If you any questions, feel free to contact us at