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Announcing Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative Reimagining the City’s Gateway

Last year, the Free Library of Philadelphia welcomed more than six million visitors. Thirty percent of those visitors stopped in monthly. In a single year, those visitors generated more than 3 million reference questions, which equates to two questions for every man, woman and child who lives in the city today.  What are all of these people seeking?  Information and services, access and opportunities. Historically, libraries were a hub for learning, reading, and research. Today, they are so much more, offering resources and assistance in everything from technology training, social services, job coaching, and, yes, literacy and education.  To support this massive growth of the Free Library’s role in the fabric of the city, the Free Library of Philadelphia is partnering with the William Penn Foundation and the City of Philadelphia to announce the transformational Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative, reestablishing the Library as a central resource in every neighborhood in Philadelphia, serving as a portal to learning, public services, economic opportunity, recreation, and community engagement.

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PUBLICATIONS

2012 Annual Report

The 2012 Edition of our Annual Report illustrates Foundation and grantee accomplishments over the course of the past year and highlights our new goals and strategic priorities. more...

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NEWS

Region’s Trail Network, The Circuit, Gets Major Boost The region’s trail network, known as the Circuit, has received a significant boost toward further trail completion, awareness-building and bettering public access to Philadelphia’s waterways with new funding from the William Penn Foundation.  The grants, totaling $8.6 million, will leverage the work of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which are members of the Circuit Coalition.  When complete, the Circuit will include 750 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting people to jobs, communities, waterways and parks in the Greater Philadelphia region. To date, more than 300 miles of the network have been built.

Region’s Trail Network, The Circuit, Gets Major Boost For Trail Completion

The region’s trail network, known as the Circuit, has received a significant boost toward further trail completion, awareness-building and bettering public access to Philadelphia’s waterways with new funding from the William Penn Foundation.  The grants, totaling $8.6 million, will leverage the work of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which are members of the Circuit Coalition.  When complete, the Circuit will include 750 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting people to jobs, communities, waterways and parks in the Greater Philadelphia region. To date, more than 300 miles of the network have been built.

William Penn Foundation Commits to Invest in US Challenge

William Penn Foundation has joined the launch of Invest in US, a national campaign and challenge issued today by President Barack Obama to business leaders, philanthropists, advocates and public officials to build a better nation through high-quality early childhood programs for children from birth to age five. William Penn Foundation joins dozens of corporations, foundations and nonprofits that have also pledged significant commitments – financial and otherwise – to making sure that more children and communities have high quality early childhood education programs.

William Penn Foundation bestows $25 million on Free Library for innovations, renovations

The Free Library of Philadelphia has received the largest gift in its 120-year history: $25 million from the William Penn Foundation.

The donation is meant to transform the library into a vibrant, 21st-century institution.

Dilworth Park, transformed into a beckoning public realm, officially opens

By a most exacting measure, the newly opened Dilworth Park already seems a success: hundreds of Philadelphians endured more than an hour of speeches under a blazing sun Thursday and still wanted to stay and kick the tires.

"Gorgeous," was the assessment of Rochelle Schwartz, 66, of Center City, after first wandering the park and then making her way underground to the gleaming new transit concourse.

And so it is.

HUD head to visit West Phila. Promise Zone

The feds promised to help West Philadelphia. And now a cabinet secretary is showing up to take a look around.

Julián Castro, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will tour parts of the new Promise Zone on Friday, as two local institutions commence a $4 million initiative to transform early childhood education in a troubled part of the city.

The effort, led by the William Penn Foundation and Drexel University, seeks to double the number of neighborhood children in high-quality child care within three years.

William Penn Foundation Names Laura Sparks as Executive Director

The William Penn Foundation today announced it has named Laura Sparks as Executive Director, succeeding Managing Director Peter Degnan.  Mr. Degnan recently tendered his resignation effective August 31 for personal reasons, and the Foundation’s Board has accepted his decision to step down.

Survey paints bleak picture of Pa. school funding HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Rising costs and shrinking state and federal aid at Pennsylvania's public schools are exacerbating a pattern of property-tax increases, school program cutbacks and employee layoffs, two statewide groups representing school managers said Thursday.

Philadelphia Academies, Inc. Expands Home-Grown Nationally Proven College And Career Academy Program

A program that prepares Philadelphia high school students for college and careers will expand to serve an estimated 5,000 more students across Philadelphia. The William Penn Foundation, which has partnered with Philadelphia Academies, Inc. for more than 15 years, invests in high quality educational opportunities for low-income students in Philadelphia. The Foundation granted Philadelphia Academies, Inc., a nonprofit youth development organization, $1,425,000 over the next two years to grow its successful career academy model. 

 

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation Receives $5 Million to Increase Access to the Waterfront The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) has received $5 million from the William Penn Foundation to further implement its Master Plan for the Central Delaware, which advances “public access” as the organizing principle guiding redevelopment of the waterfront. 

Philadelphia Zoo Receives $6M Grant from the William Penn Foundation to Blaze a New Trail

The Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce a $6 million grant from the William Penn Foundation, whose philanthropy is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region by investing in great public spaces to serve the cultural and recreational needs of the City’s expanding urban core.

Awbury Arboretum hopes $300K grant leads to sustainable future in Northwest Philly As William Penn Foundation works with nonprofits to improve some of Philadelphia's greatest community treasures, Awbury Arboretum has become an exciting new partner. A $300,000 WPF grant, approved in July, will help Awbury develop new revenue streams and form strategic partnerships to expand its reach in the community that surrounds it. 

Changing Skyline: An elegant redesign for Ben Franklin - and Venturi

Ben Franklin was a great and fearless tinkerer, but even he might have been reluctant to mess with the Old City architectural icon that honors his life and work. The deceptively modest Franklin Court complex was designed by world-famous Robert Venturi for the 1976 Bicentennial, and it changed the way we think about memorials. The historic site reopened last week, after three years of planning, construction, and dire warnings of architectural Armageddon. Just as the experts predicted, everything is different. But different is also better.

Eakins Oval pop-up park enhances Parkway On June 11, 2013, City residents applauded the opening of the new pop-up park called “The Oval” on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as part of the More Park Less Way design process led by Penn Praxis and the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Philadelphia.

Research team braves heat to collect samples from Manatawny River As many volunteers and partnering organizations participate in our coordinated efforts with the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Open Space Institute, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to protect and restore key areas of the Delaware River Watershed, they help bring us one step closer to ensuring a healthy watershed and clean drinking water for millions of people.

Old City Named One of America’s Top Neighborhoods for the Arts A national coalition of foundations, banks, and federal agencies has named Philadelphia’s Old City one of America’s 12 most creative places: a distinction recognizing the central role that the arts play in revitalizing communities.


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