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William Penn Foundation announces Creative Communities Grants

Thursday, December 13, 2018

William Penn Foundation Announcement

The William Penn Foundation is pleased to announce our recently approved Creative Communities grants totaling $9.7 million. We hope that sharing a list of recently approved grants can foster greater synergy, coordination, and communication among our grantees and can surface new opportunities to learn from each other and work together. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about a particular grant, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Grant Officer listed below.   

Great Public Spaces

The Foundation works to support equitable access to great public spaces. We believe that great public spaces strengthen communities; they are places in which we spend time with family, friends, and neighbors. They can also promote health through physical activity, help children learn through play, enhance appreciation of the natural environment, and offer platforms for cultural expression.

Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

  • As part of our commitment to supporting the development of community-driven public spaces, we awarded a grant to Bread and Roses Community Fund ($460,000) to launch an Equitable Public Space Giving Project. The two-year project will help create, sustain, and elevate public space projects that low-income community members are supporting to enrich their own neighborhoods. In doing so, it aims to prioritize local knowledge in public space design, build communities’ investment in the spaces they have created, and ensure that community perspectives are incorporated into planning and decision-making processes. (Grant Officer: Cara Ferrentino)
  • Branch libraries are among the city’s most important neighborhood public spaces, particularly given that they support the educational mission of the School District and early care facilities in Philadelphia. A grant was awarded to the Free Library of Philadelphia ($2,500,000) to support the full transformation of the Frankford Library to better serve local community needs and engage visitors of all ages with relevant programs, collections, and materials. (Grant Officer: Cara Ferrentino)
  • Fund for Philadelphia ($150,000) to support the City of Philadelphia’s Urban Agriculture Plan. Philadelphia’s 500 community gardens, farms, and orchards are unique, shared community assets and examples of how citizen stewardship of shared land builds community connection, neighborhood bonds, and civic engagement. The plan will document the current state of urban agriculture in Philadelphia, offer strategies for how to better coordinate activities to sustain existing community spaces, and recommend ways to better include urban agriculture in City efforts to re-purpose vacant land. (Grant Officer: Cara Ferrentino)
  • Fund for Philadelphia ($600,000) to support the implementation of key elements of Parks and Recreation’s strategic plan and help advance the department’s internal systems so that it can better steward all of its assets, and especially Rebuild’s investments. (Grant Officer: Cara Ferrentino)
  • Fund for the School District of Philadelphia ($2,500,000) to transform three schoolyards into high-quality, playful learning-oriented outdoor spaces serving area families as well as elementary school students. This grant was awarded and funded in collaboration with the Foundation's Great Learning program. (Grant Officer: Amanda Charles)
  • Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises ($500,000) for the development of a resident-driven planning process for a new park in Fairhill. The process will engage local residents in designing and planning for the park, as well as preparing for its long-term stewardship by the community. As part of park planning efforts, HACE will offer credit counseling to local renters interested in homeownership in the area. (Grant Officer: Cara Ferrentino)
  • John Bartram Association ($4,000,000) to support capital investments, programs, and community engagement so that Bartram’s Garden can further its mission to serve as an inclusive, locally-facing public space and important center for environmental education on the Delaware River. Through this process, Bartram aims to deepen its relationships with communities in South and Southwest Philadelphia, while also preparing for increased visitors from across the city and region in anticipation of it being connected to the Schuylkill River Trail. This grant was awarded and funded in collaboration with the Foundation's Watershed Protection program. (Grant Officer: Cara Ferrentino)  

New Audiences, New Places

Through our New Audiences/New Places strategy, we support creative expression in public and non-traditional spaces to help bring art into neighborhoods, meeting people where they are. Support of this work encourages organizations to experiment with ideas that engage new audiences, creating more art, for more people, in more places. Grants were awarded to:

  • Nichole Canuso Dance Company ($225,000) to support Being/With, an immersive video/sound/dance performance that will engage participation of residents at community-based sites in two Philadelphia neighborhoods. (Grant Officer: Hillary Murray)
  • Taller Puertorriqueño ($383,800) for creation of Memorializing Fairhill, a historically informed public art project intended to reflect the history, community and place of Latino North Philadelphia. (Grant Officer: Judilee Reed)

About the Creative Communities Program

All of the grants detailed above were awarded through the Foundation's Creative Communities program. The program supports artistic and cultural expression that stimulates new viewpoints and helps create places and spaces where new cultural experiences and perspectives can be encountered and shared. The Foundation provides core funding support for arts and culture organizations, funding for arts education programs to work in Philadelphia schools, and we invest in artistic projects and public spaces that empower and engage communities.   

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