Closing the Achievement Gap Watershed Protection Creative Communities

OUR MISSION is 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.

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ANNOUNCING BUILDING INSPIRATION: 21ST CENTURY LIBRARIES INITIATIVE: REIMAGINING THE CITY’S GATEWAYLast 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.

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.


WPF News and Information

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.


WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION AND DREXEL UNIVERSITY JOIN FORCES TO TRANSFORMThe William Penn Foundation and Drexel University today announced a new initiative in which they are working together with community child care centers and other local agencies to help tackle some of the issues facing early childhood education in West Philadelphia and help young children get a strong start in life. This partnership will support the West Philadelphia Early Childhood Education Initiative (WPECE) to increase the supply of high-quality child care in the Mantua, West Powelton, and Belmont neighborhoods, an area that has historically been plagued with low-quality child care options. more...

WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION NAMES LAURA SPARKS AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTORThe 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. more...

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.