Since 1945, the William Penn Foundation has expressed Haas family values through its grantmaking. Our strategic plan, entitled Capitalizing Change, charts a vision and strategies consistent with the Foundation’s enduring values of respect, integrity, stewardship, collaboration, and accountability.

Capitalizing Change is designed to help Greater Philadelphia seize the opportunities of a rapidly changing world. Our grantmaking is driven by the passionate belief that Philadelphia can be one of America’s great cities.

We approach this work with urgency, pragmatism, transparency, and inclusivity. We leverage our philanthropic assets in highly focused ways for maximum impact in the Foundation’s three traditional areas of concern: children, creativity, and the environment.

Grant Centers

  • The Closing the Achievement Gap grant center seeks to increase the number of children from low-income families able to achieve academically and socially on par with national and global success norms. Our primary focus is to increase the supply of great educational opportunities, and we seek to bookend that effort with early childhood education and research that identifies pathways to post-high school success.

  • The Creative Communities grant center advances Philadelphia as a leading center of creativity by promoting sustainable arts organizations, new artistic work, great public spaces, and arts education for school-age children. Our investments leverage the region’s cultural assets, reinforcing and expanding current efforts to foster creativity and grow audiences.

  • The Watershed Protection grant center ensures the supply of clean water in the Delaware and Susquehanna watersheds by conserving and restoring important lands, building a constituency for conservation, encouraging smart regulatory compliance, and promoting green infrastructure. Our investments are based on data and science.
Reframing Our Philanthropic Practice

While the Foundation will continue to invest in its long-term areas of interest — creativity, the environment, and children’s futures — we will go about our work in new and different ways. We believe that how we do our work is as important as what we do, and we will embrace practices that make us more: transparent and accountable; pragmatic and solution-oriented; and inclusive in our leadership style.

Our work will be:

  • Knowledge-based, data-centered, and measurable. Decisions will follow where the data leads, biased only toward what succeeds. We will tie our goals to specific outcomes and adopt a rigorous measurement approach. Within our areas of focus, we will sponsor fellows and shape publications that share knowledge, heighten the impact of our work, and advance the field.

  • Entrepreneurial. We will relentlessly pursue new ways to solve pervasive regional problems with a renewed sense of urgency. We will tolerate risk, own failure, and embrace innovation that changes norms and raises expectations.

  • A catalyst for a civic marketplace. Change is most powerful when it responds to what people want and need. Seeking to understand these needs, the Foundation will become a dynamic hub of activity, a thought leader that welcomes, incubates, and promotes new ideas.
Over the next decade, we will work with grantees, philanthropic partners, and civic leaders to bring about positive, tangible, practical change that makes a difference in educational achievement, environmental sustainability, and the vitality of the communities where Philadelphians live and work. Our success is tied to the ability of the region to prosper, which means creating, managing, and responding to change.