As a family foundation with its roots firmly planted in Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation has been committed to improving quality of life in the region for more than 70 years. The Foundation’s funding focuses on increasing high-quality educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged students; protecting the Delaware River watershed; and supporting arts, culture and the development of accessible and vibrant public spaces.
In its support of education, the Foundation believes the opportunity to succeed shouldn’t be exclusive to a particular address or a certain income level. Too many children are not receiving the learning supports they need and deserve. The Foundation’s grantmaking funds programs – in schools, for families, and within communities - that support early development and improve school readiness, helping young children read on grade level and build the groundwork for future success. To ensure students continue on paths to more successful futures, the Foundation also supports pathways to high school graduation.
In its work to help protect and restore the Delaware River watershed, which is the source of drinking water for 15 million people, the Foundation has prioritized addressing four threats to water quality where focused funding and action can be a tipping point for conservation. Through support of research and advocacy, on-the-ground work, and cultivating constituencies to care about clean water, the Foundation’s grantmaking is helping align the work of many organizations in order to maximize impact and accelerate conservation.
Lastly, Philadelphia’s creative and civic life encourages people to view issues, other cultures, and their own lives and communities from new and different perspectives. William Penn Foundation’s Creative Communities program seeks to support arts and cultural expression that stimulates those new viewpoints while at the same time helping create places and spaces where those new cultural experiences and perspectives can be encountered and shared. This takes shape through unrestricted core support to arts and cultural organizations, which provides arts groups with resources to pursue their missions and produce innovative, high-quality work. It also is reflected through the Foundation’s support of arts education, which funds organizations to work in schools that serve children from low-income households, increasing access for Philadelphia students to arts education experiences by providing direct delivery of high-quality programs. And, finally, Philadelphia’s public spaces offer new platforms for creative and cultural expression across the city, while also serving as places where people of every background and generation can come together, engage and become part of the civic life of the city.