Foundation Launches Strategic Vision With $3.2 Million In Grants

Publication Date: December 19, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (December 19, 2012) – Today, Helen Davis Picher, interim president of the William Penn Foundation, announced more than $3.2 million in new grants to launch the implementation of the Foundation’s 10-year strategic vision.
The grants will go to: the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe ($1.5 million); the Children’s Literacy Initiative ($1 million); and a group of organizations working for environmental stewardship ($715,500 among four organizations).
The Foundation’s strategic vision focuses on three principal objectives: closing the achievement gap for low-income children; protecting the region’s water quality; and making Greater Philadelphia an even more vibrant and creative community.
“Philadelphia has extraordinary human, environmental, and cultural strengths,” said David Haas, board chair of the Foundation. “Building on these strengths and ensuring broad access to opportunity for all people will require long-term investment and inspired civic leadership.”
Haas said that the grants announced today “reflect what is possible when smart ideas are brought to life by organizations doing important work for the region’s children, environment, and cultural fabric. We are proud to provide support and momentum to these efforts and look forward to the long term impact they will have in our communities and region.”
New program guidelines and application procedures for grants under the Foundation’s strategic vision will be issued in late January.
Additional information about the grants follows:

The Foundation will invest $1.5 million in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe to help complete the development of its new facility in a renovated water pumping station at the foot of the Race Street Pier. “The Fringe’s new home will be an incredibly exciting destination on the Central Delaware Waterfront, demonstrating the power of cultural activity to revitalize and animate long-neglected urban spaces,” said Picher. “We’re also excited that it will transform one of Philadelphia’s signature cultural institutions into a year-round presenter of modern arts.”
Nick Stuccio, producing director of the Live Arts & Philly Fringe said the new facility will “offer a highly vibrant and social context to experience an extraordinary roster of contemporary American and international artists, as well as a provocative array of artists based here in our region.” Stuccio’s vision includes “year round programming aimed at expanding our audience for world-class art makers.”
"At the National Endowment for the Arts, we know that places literally change when you bring arts and culture into the center of them," said National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. "We know from the NEA's own investments in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival how much they have already done to contribute to Philadelphia's vibrancy, and we look forward to what more they will accomplish with this new support."

The Children’s Literacy Initiative will receive a $1 million challenge grant to dramatically expand its proven model in Philadelphia’s schools. CLI’s program helps low-income children in grades K-3 to improve their ability to read and write, and builds on students’ gains with consecutive years of high-quality instruction. The model has demonstrated great success in classrooms across the country, including Philadelphia. CLI will use the Foundation’s challenge grant to ramp up their program to serve more than 200,000 students over the next decade, working with 2,000 teachers in 90 schools.
“We need to ensure that more of Philadelphia’s children can become proficient readers and lifelong learners,” said Dr. Kelly Hunter, CLI’s executive director. “With only 13 percent of Philadelphia’s fourth graders reading on grade level, too much is at stake. We must focus our collective resources where they matter most – on our youngest readers, writers and thinkers.”

“Early literacy is one of the most important determinants of future success in a child’s life,” said Picher. “The evidence-based nature of CLI’s work and its potential for substantially transforming lives on a large scale is emblematic of what we hope to accomplish under our new grantmaking strategy,” said Picher.


The Foundation’s Watershed Protection grant center will bolster environmental stewardship with $717,500 in investments that will leverage the region’s outdoor amenities, including waterways and trails to engage urban communities and low-income children in environmental education and recreation. According to Picher, the grants are intended to “help create the next generation of urban environmental stewards in our region, while bringing additional attention to the region’s outstanding network of multi-use trails and waterways.”

“By engaging residents of all ages in outdoor activity along our city’s magnificent trails and waterways, the Foundation is helping to ensure that Philadelphia has a future constituency of people who care about our urban environment,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

Individual grants include:




The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, works to close the achievement gap for low-income children, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. With assets of nearly $2 billion, the Foundation distributes approximately $80 million in grants annually.



Note to editors/reporters: When referring to our organization, "William Penn Foundation" (or "the Foundation" on second reference) is preferred over "Penn Foundation" to avoid confusion with the University of Pennsylvania, with which we are not affiliated. Thanks very much.