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William Penn Foundation announces new grants

Monday, December 16, 2019

In November 2019, the William Penn Foundation Board of Directors approved grants of nearly $20 million in support of Great Learning, Great Public Spaces and Watershed Protection.

Great Learning Grants

The William Penn Foundation Board of Directors recently awarded 22 grants, totaling almost $15 million, to support education in Philadelphia.

Engaged Families grants were awarded to:

  • Carnegie Hall Corporation to pilot and evaluate a music-based family engagement program for families of young toddlers in Philadelphia. The Lullaby Project encourages adults to write lullabies and sing with their young children, supporting positive parent-child interaction, early language development, and parent well-being. The program will be implemented in partnership with local teaching artists and social service agencies. ($716,500 over 36 months)  
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation to develop, pilot, and evaluate work with home visiting services for families experiencing intimate partner violence to increase families’ engagement and the benefits to their children. ($627,500 over 36 months)
  • Generations United to assess the characteristics, needs, and strengths of Philadelphia grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Learnings from the report will be shared with the broader Philadelphia community. ($198,941 over 12 months)
  • Health Federation of Philadelphia to enhance the work of home visitors by providing them with high-quality baby items, such as blankets and onesies, printed with messaging that reinforces the early learning messages they are sharing with families. This project will support Health Federation’s ongoing work with home visitors to strengthen their knowledge of early learning and strategies to share with families. ($683,208 over 36 months)
  • People’s Emergency Center to pilot an evidence-based home visiting program designed to meet the needs of families with young children in emergency or transitional housing. ($1,454,738 over 37 months)
  • FathersRead365 (an organization sponsored by Urban Affairs Coalition) to support early literacy programming that engages fathers in their children's early learning. ($120,000 over 24 months)

Literacy-Rich Environments grants were awarded to:

  • Too Small to Fail (an initiative of the Clinton Foundation) to create and pilot “Family Read, Play & Learn Spaces” in Philadelphia laundromats. These informal learning environments will feature equipment that engages children and families in opportunities for literacy and language development. ($253,400 over 18 months)
  • Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation to refine and expand the Read, Baby, Read program to reach 12 locations across the Library system with research-based programming, space, and materials for infants and toddlers and their adults. ($691,131 over 36 months)

Quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centers grants were awarded to:

  • District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund to work with partners around Philadelphia to establish professional development and resource hubs for home-based Family Child Care providers to achieve and sustain high-quality status. ($750,000 over 36 months)
  • Public Health Management Corporation to establish a fund for the purchase of curriculum materials and related professional development to improve the quality of instruction in early childhood centers. ($1,334,466 over 24 months)

Advocacy & Public Information grants were awarded to:

Nine organizations participating in three distinct but aligned early childhood advocacy campaigns to inform the public and policymakers about the benefits of critical early childhood services and the need for funding to ensure access to high-quality pre-K (Pre-K for PA), infant/toddler care (Start Strong PA), and evidence-based home visiting services (Childhood Begins at Home). ($6,993,547 over 36 months) The organizations include:

  • Council for a Strong America
  • First Up
  • Maternity Care Coalition
  • Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Pennsylvania Child Care Association
  • Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
  • Public Citizens for Children and Youth
  • Trying Together
  • United Way of Pennsylvania
  • Partners for Public Good to engage in formative evaluation with advocacy campaigns to enable them to continuously improve outreach and education efforts. ($351,420 over 36 months)
  • Early Learning Investment Commission (ELIC) (a project of Team Pennsylvania Foundation) to engage and educate a network of senior business leaders in Pennsylvania about the benefits of high-quality early childhood education. ($185,000 over 36 months)

A Civic Engagement grant was awarded to:

  • Philadelphia Public School Notebook to partner with national education news outlet Chalkbeat and establish a local focus on early learning efforts, challenges, and successes in Philadelphia. ($600,000 over 36 months)

Great Public Spaces Grants

The William Penn Foundation's board approved four grants under its Creative Communities Program, totaling $1.6 million.

  • City Parks Alliance, Inc. ($250,000 over 24 months) to sponsor the 2021 Greater & Greener international conference in Philadelphia, reinforcing the identity of the city as a center of public space innovation and thought leadership. The conference will feature local, national and international practitioners, and sessions will explore how urban parks can advance local goals related to health, climate resilience and economic development. A number of Philadelphia public spaces will be visited through mobile workshops and panel discussions. (
  • Fund for Philadelphia, Inc. ($495,000 over 24 months) to support a new, world-class design for park and transportation improvements to Eakins Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The plans for improvements will seek to establish the Oval and the entire Parkway as a year-round public space.
  • University City District ($445,000 over 48 months) to pilot and evaluate a new model for park maintenance, in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR). The grant will support UCD's social enterprise Green City Works in providing maintenance at five neighborhood parks in West Philadelphia.
  • Village of Arts and Humanities, Inc. ($475,000 over 20 months) to support capital improvements, sustainability planning, and public space programming for existing buildings and public spaces that form the Village's campus.

Watershed Protection Grants

The William Penn Foundation’s board approved 13 grants under its Watershed Protection Program, totaling $2.7 million.


  • National Association of Conservation Districts ($100,000 over 24 months) to analyze the records of farmers in the Delaware River watershed who have implemented practices on their farms to improve water quality in nearby streams, and publish case studies quantifying the impact of those practices on each farm's bottom line.
  • National Parks Conservation Association ($225,000 over 24 months) for outreach and organizing in communities surrounding First State National Park in Delaware and the Upper Delaware Wild and Scenic River in Pennsylvania and New York. Efforts would aim to limit existing and future impacts to nearby rivers and streams associated with development and stormwater.

Targeted Sub-Watersheds

Several grants will support the City of Philadelphia's "Green City, Clean Waters" stormwater plan. These grants aim to increase public awareness and support for the program, lower costs, and accelerate project implementation.

  • Red Flag Media ($150,000 over 24 months) for reporting and events via Grid Magazine that will connect a sustainability-minded audience of readers across the region to information about stormwater management, efforts to green the city, and reconnecting the area to its rivers.
  • Green Philly Blog ($125,000 over 24 months) to elevate information about water quality as well as Philadelphia's stormwater, waterfront access, and recreation goals through media posts and events.
  • Fund for Philadelphia ($250,000 over 18 months) for the City Office of Sustainability, to create a plan for the strategic expansion of green infrastructure and urban forests to maximize climate and community benefits.
  • U.S. Forest Service, Philadelphia Field Station ($325,000 over 36 months) to create a pilot nursery in Philadelphia that would establish an affordable and sustainable source of plants to be used in green stormwater infrastructure and urban forestation projects.
  • University of Pennsylvania - McHarg Center ($100,000 over 12 months) to analyze water infiltration within projects meant to absorb stormwater in Philadelphia, and expand field trials using new materials, with a goal to establish locally recycled crushed glass as a sustainable alternative to the sand currently used in green stormwater infrastructure projects.
  • A recoverable grant to Greenprint Partners ($320,000 over 24 months) will support early planning for green stormwater infrastructure projects in Philadelphia, recovering a portion of planning costs if projects are approved by the Philadelphia Water Department's Greened Acre Retrofit Program.
  • Academy of Natural Sciences ($200,000 over 12 months) to identify focus areas in Philadelphia where concentrated investment in green stormwater infrastructure could engage communities and multiple City agencies, and deliver significant and measurable stormwater pollution reductions.

University of Maryland - Environmental Finance Center ($275,000 over 7 months) to assess the feasibility of establishing a process to set water quality goals for the Delaware Basin and use computer models to prioritize where on-the-ground conservation projects can best avoid or reduce non-point source pollution. This will inform whether further investment should be made in implementing this work.

Constituency Building

  • Delaware Greenways, Inc. ($110,000 over 24 months) to advance trail development in northern Delaware, particularly trails that follow waterways and will connect to the Circuit Trails in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Two grants will support work to engage thousands of people in on-water and trail programs:

  • D&R Greenway Land Trust ($250,000 over 24 months) will expand access to the Delaware River in Lambertville, Trenton and Bordentown, N.J., through programs designed to build stewardship for the river.
  • Pocono Environmental Education Center ($315,000 over 24 months) will provide experiential day programs for thousands of community members and multi-day programs for hundreds of middle and high school students from Philadelphia and Camden, emphasizing watershed education and stewardship.