Aquinas Center Honors Chinh Dinh and Community Literacies Project

Philadelphia, PA – Aquinas Center is pleased to announce the creation of two annual awards to recognize the outstanding contributions of a community leader and a partner organization that have helped us advance our mission to build unity in diversity, support learning, and inspire thoughtful action. These awards will be presented at 12:45PM on Saturday, May 7th at our One Table event at 1700 Fernon Street.

Chinh Dinh

Mr. Chinh Dinh

The 2016 Community Leader Award will recognize Mr. Chinh Dinh who is a longtime resident of the Aquinas neighborhood. He is known both locally and nationally for his work in the Vietnamese Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. English language learners at Aquinas Center have benefited immensely from Mr. Dinh’s consistent and positive presence as a volunteer in our classes. As someone who learned English as a Second Language (ESOL) himself, Chinh can personally connect with the students. This is true even across language boundaries, as reflected by the fact that Chinh does not assist just the Vietnamese speakers, but any student in class who needs his help. His patience and good humor have contributed so much to make our classes a more beneficial experience for everyone involved. As Aquinas Center board treasurer Matthew Davis remarked, “Chinh is the type of leader that you know you can depend on. When he commits to doing something, you know his words mean something and you know that his actions will follow through. Chinh is very generous with his time.” You can learn more about Chinh’s journey to America in this StoryCorps interview.


Dr. Gerald Campano

The Partnership Award for 2016 will go to the Community Literacies Project, led by Dr. Gerald Campano, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Through the project partnership, which is in its sixth year, Gerald has brought together doctoral and master’s students from the Reading/Writing/Literacy program at the University of Pennsylvania with community members from St. Thomas Aquinas to support educational access across the various linguistic and cultural communities of the parish.

The partnership has resulted in a number of activities designed in conversation with community members. Programs have included: a family literacy night, an afterschool comics group, a girls of color writing club, a Penn-Pal letter exchange between Master’s students and local kids, an Inquiry into College with young children and another with older youth, a family literacy/ESOL class with Latina mothers, adult ESOL, a literacy project where youth learned research methods to investigate topics of interest in their community, and an intercultural inquiry community where families and youth from across the parish could investigate the issues of educational access that impact all their children.

AERA group

Mr. Chinh Dinh and Dr. Gerald Campano pictured with St. Thomas Aquinas community members at a presentation on education advocacy for immigrant families.

This collaborative work is chronicled in a new book released this month by Teachers College Press. Partnering with Immigrant Communities: Action through Literacy will be available for sale at One Table.


For more details about One Table, visit
For press inquiries, contact Bethany Welch at bwelch @ or 267-702-3454