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William Penn Foundation, Philly’s biggest foundation focused solely on the city, is changing what it funds

Thursday, June 27, 2024

By Peter Dobrin for the Philadelphia Inquirer

Change is coming to Philadelphia’s largest foundation devoted solely to giving in the region.

The William Penn Foundation is instituting a broad set of changes — from the kinds of projects and organizations it is interested in funding, to how groups may apply for money.

Some of these shifts are being influenced by a generational turnover playing out gradually on the foundation’s board. Founded by the Haas family with fortunes amassed through ownership of chemical manufacturer Rohm & Haas Company, the foundation is phasing in leadership of the family’s fourth generation.

Preparation for an eventual generational handoff has been underway for a decade and roughly coincides with a new 10-year strategic plan. While the new giving priorities and interests were championed by the fourth generation, they were developed in partnership with the one before it, says Katherine H. Christiano, William Penn’s board chair.