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William Penn Foundation Announces Another $11.6 Million for COVID Emergency Action

Monday, March 30, 2020

To our grantees and partners,

As the impact of the Coronavirus crisis on our community continues to grow, on Friday the William Penn Foundation held its second urgent board meeting in two weeks and approved two additional actions to support the urgent needs of organizations.

New Emergency Fund for Early Education

Today we are pleased to join with Vanguard and Reinvestment Fund to announce a collaboration to support Philadelphia early learning providers who are struggling to sustain their organizations through closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A $5 million grant from William Penn Foundation and a $2 million grant from Vanguard’s Strong Start for Kids Program™ will launch the new Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education (PEFSEE).

Over the last five years, Philadelphia has created opportunities for 10,000 more children in high quality early learning programs and has expanded its home visiting services. We can’t let these important learning opportunities for children disappear as a result of this crisis.

The fund will support organizations that provide early learning for children from birth to age five. Licensed childcare, family childcare, pre-k, and home visiting programs in Philadelphia are eligible. Providers of these programs can request assistance to sustain basic expenses, support new methods of helping families during the closure period, and support future needs related to reopening. The Fund will be administered by Reinvestment Fund, which will review applications and award grants on a weekly basis and will welcome additional contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals. To learn more, donors or those wishing to apply for support can visit

$6.6 Million in General Operating Support Grants for Arts and Culture Organizations

In order to be flexible and responsive to the severe and widespread disruptions caused by the Coronavirus crisis in the regional cultural sector, the Foundation accelerated approval of this year’s cohort of Core Support grants. These grants were to be considered by the Board later this spring. However, given the early impacts the cultural sector has experienced, our Board understood how providing needed financial resources more quickly could be enormously beneficial, especially for organizations faced with making difficult staffing decisions on a daily basis.

Our conversations continue daily among our staff and leadership, and with all of you. We have heard from many of you and encourage you to continue to reach out about your current situations and to talk with us about how we may be able to support you through this challenging time.  We don’t yet know what mid- and long-term needs will be, but our priority is to be as responsive as possible and provide additional flexibility and support where we are able. With that in mind, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.


Janet Haas, M.D.
Board Chair

Shawn McCaney
Executive Director

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