Arts and Culture

Our Arts and Culture grantmaking strategies support:


The general operations of arts and culture organizations to produce high-quality arts and culture programs and activities informed by diverse staff, boards, and audiences that build community, regional vibrancy, and achieve goals of racial and economic inclusion.

In-school partnerships, grades K-6, and community-based arts training, grades 7-12, that provide an entry to the arts for young people and help develop skills that reflect the cultural diversity of our communities as well as students’ own cultural and racial identities.

High-quality arts and culture projects or programs that emphasize diverse and culturally relevant work produced in an inclusive and equitable way.



Provides unrestricted general operating support to organizations whose missions are rooted in arts and culture and invest in their staff, programming, and operations to deepen or maintain a commitment to greater racial and economic equity and strengthen our communities and the region.

Arts and Culture Hubs organizations are community-minded, equity-focused organizations making substantial impacts in their communities or region wide to build community, regional vibrancy, and/or cultural identity. Eligible organizations may represent any artistic discipline. They must be in the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia). However most funding focusing on the City of Philadelphia. Eligible organizations must also:

  • Be incorporated as a 501(c)(3)
  • Provide year-round programming
  • Serve multi-generational audiences
  • Have a history of Creative Communities funding
  • Demonstrate a commitment to racial equity, economic inclusion
  • Generate high-quality work in terms of strong artistic skill and cultural expertise that acknowledges and reflects the participants and audiences

Applicants will be reviewed for:

  • A clear description/plan for how funding will help an organization in its commitment to racial equity and economic inclusion through its operations, programs, and activities
  • The role that high-quality artistic programs and activities play in reflecting and building on a shared identity—locally, regionally, or nationally
  • The role that diverse audiences/communities play in building an organization’s understanding of local, regional, or national context; involving appropriate expertise in programming and operations to drive shared power and to share the benefits of the organization and its work equitably

Typically, an Arts and Culture Hubs grant is awarded for three years (36 months). The grant term will be tied to the organization’s fiscal year so please refer to the How to Apply to Creative Communities webpage to see the quarterly board meetings to determine when to apply.

What We DO NOT Fund:

  • Fiscally sponsored projects
  • First-time Creative Communities applicants
  • Organizations established around one annual event or festival
  • Government agencies, departments, or offices
  • Organizations that only offer youth-focused programming (18 years-old and younger)



Primarily provides funding to support programming; however, some activities may be eligible for planning support. Programs taking place throughout the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) and the City of Camden, NJ are eligible for funding, though most funding will focus on the City of Philadelphia. In any locale, activities should be focused on supporting youth from low-income households.

Applications will be reviewed for:

  • A clear definition of the young people the program seeks to engage and benefit through its work
  • A plan to engage youth that builds on past work or that thoughtfully leverages external expertise and community assets
  • A clear definition of benefits the arts education program seeks
  • Evidence of a plan to provide these benefits in ways that are equitable, inclusive, and developmentally appropriate
  • A commitment to continuous improvement that takes student/participant feedback into account
  • A design that facilitates youth-led approaches
  • An implementation plan that clearly supports opportunities for ongoing, continual learning (e.g., staff time, professional development, learning from other similar programs, etc.)

What We DO NOT Fund:

  • Nonprofits that are not direct providers of professional arts education programming
  • Support directly to early childcare providers, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools
  • Scholarships for individuals
  • Individual teaching artists
  • For-profit arts education providers
  • Arts organizations without professional teaching artists on staff
  • Organizations without a recent history of at least two consecutive years of programming are not eligible for project support funding, although can apply for planning support
  • Arts education programming in which the vast majority of participants (over 75%) are not young people coming from low-income households
  • Arts therapy programs

To learn more about the process for applying to Arts Education and Exposure, or any of the Creative Communities strategies, visit the How To Apply To Creative Communities webpage.



Provides support for projects and programs of any artistic discipline. It supports projects and programs geared toward greater equity of access, ensuring more people feel welcome and a part of the arts and culture experiences in our region, because of how they are created and presented. The strategy may also provide planning support for projects or programs in their early development stages. Programs and projects must take place in the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) and the City of Camden, NJ, though most funding will focus on the City of Philadelphia.

Applications will be reviewed for:

  • A clear definition of the benefits that proposed work is trying to generate
  • A clear definition of the people the work aims to engage and benefit
  • A plan to provide these benefits in ways that are racially equitable and economically inclusive
  • A plan to engage the intended audiences/participants for the project that:
    • Reflects an understanding of local context
    • Thoughtfully leverages community and external assets and expertise, if applicable
    • Seeks to build lasting collaboration through which decision-making power can be shared

What We DO NOT Fund:

  • Individual artists*
  • Public or private memorials
  • Art projects focused on young audiences and with a goal of sustained arts learning; these projects should review Arts Education and Exposure for potential eligibility
  • Projects that do not pay artists/creators for their involvement
  • Projects that do not involve artists centrally in the design and conception of the projects
  • Film projects that are not supporting filmmaking as an art form or are primarily for instructional or educational purposes

*Individual artists would be considered as a member of an arts organization’s team or project team if funded through a fiscal sponsorship.

To learn more about the process for applying to Arts Presentation and Art Making, or any of the Creative Communities strategies, visit the How To Apply To Creative Communities webpage.

And for any additional questions, see if our FAQs provide answers, or feel free to reach out to us.



Public Spaces

Our Public Spaces grantmaking strategies support:

The creation and stewardship of high-quality, inclusive, sustainable public and community spaces, including support for best practices related to maintenance, programming, and governance.

Investments to enable public and community spaces to generate long-term, equitable economic benefits for neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia and the region.



Requests for project support, time-limited general operating support, and capital support are all eligible for funding. Public and community spaces throughout the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) and the City of Camden, NJ are eligible to apply, though most funding will focus on the City of Philadelphia. Eligible requests are those that concern one or more public/community spaces that are freely accessible to the public (e.g., hours of operation and public access periods clearly communicated) and are operated in ways that are welcoming and inclusive (e.g., through signage, programming, staffing, and other policies/practices related to accessibility and inclusion).   

Applications will be reviewed for:

  • A commitment to advancing racial equity and economic inclusion, both organizationally and programmatically
  • High-quality, people-centered programs or services as demonstrated by:
    • Experience with, or a thoughtful approach to, understanding and integrating community or constituent needs, desires, and perspectives into programmatic or operational decision-making
    • Efforts to promote accessibility and inclusion, such as physical design, signage, staffing, culturally relevant programming, and other organizational governance policies that promote feelings of welcome and belonging
  • Benefits to Philadelphians and/or other residents of the region in ways that are equitable and inclusive such as, but not limited to:
    • Providing joyful experiences
    • Supporting physical health, mental wellbeing, and community healing
    • Fostering social engagement and community empowerment
    • Enabling the pursuit of community-specific goals
    • Encouraging interpersonal interactions and relationships within and among diverse populations
    • Reinforcing identity and social ties within local communities and neighborhoods
    • Creating equitable economic impacts
    • Promoting resiliency to social, public health and environmental crises
  • A clear definition of the benefits that proposed public and community space work is trying to generate
  • A plan to provide benefits in ways that are racially equitable and economically inclusive
  • A clear definition of the people the work is trying to engage and its benefit to them
  • A plan to engage intended participants that:
    • Reflects an understanding of local context
    • Thoughtfully leverages community and, as applicable, external assets and expertise
    • Seeks to build lasting collaboration through which decision-making power can be shared
  • Credible, realistic work plans and budgets
  • A plan for addressing relevant systems or policy-related barriers
  • An approach for addressing relevant long-term maintenance, operational sustainability, and climate resiliency challenges or opportunities related to the public or community space

Applications for general operating support must demonstrate how general operating support will help them achieve necessary evolution or growth to improve specific practices related to operations, maintenance, and/or programming in ways consistent with these funding guidelines. 

What We DO NOT Fund:

  • Places and public spaces that require tickets, purchases, or memberships to access them
  • Spaces that are primarily profit-seeking
  • Public or private memorials
  • Athletic leagues

To learn more about the process for applying to Public Space Creation and Stewardship, or any of the Creative Communities strategies, visit the How To Apply To Creative Communities webpage.



Provides support for projects that have clear and specific economic equity goals related to public and/or community spaces, even if goals are long-term and would be realized after the grant period. Work happening throughout the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) and the City of Camden, NJ is eligible for funding, though most funding will focus on the City of Philadelphia.

Funding could support, but is not limited to, the following areas: entrepreneurship, business development, employment, contracting, community land ownership, community organizing, coalition building, advocacy, policy development, and research/analysis.

Applications will be reviewed for:

  • A commitment to advancing racial equity and economic inclusion, both organizationally and programmatically
  • Provision of people-centered programs or services within the six-county region
  • Clear and compelling economic equity objectives related to public and community spaces, including long-term goals that may come to fruition after the grant period
  • A clear path toward these objectives with an emphasis on racial equity and economic inclusivity
  • An approach that builds on existing community/local assets
  • The strength and relevancy of applicant’s relationships, knowledge, and skill sets related to the grant proposal
  • Demonstrated understanding of relevant external factors and policy issues with a clear and credible plan for navigating them to achieve desired aims

What We DO NOT Fund:

  • Efforts that do not focus on economic equity issues that are directly related to public and/or community spaces

To learn more about the process for applying to Equitable Economic Impacts, or any of the Creative Communities strategies, visit the How To Apply To Creative Communities webpage.

If you have any additional questions, see if our FAQs provide answers, or feel free to reach out to us.



How to Apply to Creative Communities

Please note: the following information is only for the Creative Communities program. If you are seeking funding through the Great Learning or Watershed Protection programs, please click the corresponding hyperlinks to visit each webpage.

The Foundation welcomes requests from grant seekers and actively seeks opportunities to fund efforts aligned with the Creative Communities program’s strategic goals. Funding will not be considered for any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, or sexual orientation in policy or practice.

Funding requests are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed at quarterly board meetings. Dates by which a submission must be received to be reviewed for each board meeting are provided in the Timeline to Consider When Applying section below.

General questions about portal navigation or the grantmaking process may be directed to


Step 1: Review of Foundation’s Strategic Priorities and Guidelines
Prior to making an inquiry, we ask grant seekers to please visit the What We Fund pages of our web site to better understand the Foundation’s strategic priorities and consider how projects for which they are seeking funding align with these priorities.

Visit the Arts & Culture and Public Spaces tabs on the Creative Communities How to Apply webpage to understand guidelines for applying to each specific strategy.

Step 2: Creating a Portal Username and Password

  • New Portal Users: If you have not used the William Penn Foundation online application system before, or if you used it while working for a different organization, you can create a new username and password. Go to the portal and click "Not a member?" You will fill out a short form that will allow us to associate your user account with your organization. Please enter your organization EIN in the format xx-1234567. We recommend using an email address tied to you as a person (i.e., not something like


  • Returning Portal Users: If you have previously used the William Penn Foundation’s online portal, please log into the portal using the username and password you previously created. If you do not remember your login credentials, use the links on the login screen to reset them. If you experience trouble resetting your password, can’t find your username, or aren’t sure if you already have a username with your current organization, email for assistance. Do not create a new username for yourself, as this creates duplicated records in our system and may delay review of your submission.


Step 3: Starting a Creative Communities Concept Inquiry Form
The Creative Communities process begins with completing a Concept Inquiry Form (CIF) available in our online portal. Once you have finished finding or creating your username and password, log into the portal and click on “Apply Now” at the top right. Follow the instructions at the top of the page and click the link within the text to see the available applications. Select the link titled “Creative Communities,” and it will bring you to the Creative Communities Concept Inquiry Form welcome screen. Go the top right corner and select "Apply.”

Clicking “Save” means that the next time you log in, you will automatically see that you have a Creative Communities request in progress on the “Proposals in Development” page. You can then click on the request you previously created to finish working on your Concept Inquiry Form. For your convenience, a template of the Concept Inquiry Form is also available here for reference.

The following is a more detailed description of important information about the Creative Communities grant development process, including:

Timeline To Consider When Applying

Concept Inquiry Forms (CIF) are accepted at any time on a rolling basis for all Creative Communities funding strategies. The Creative Communities review process can take up to six months from the submission of a CIF, depending on the grant opportunity and the Foundation's schedule of board meeting reviews.

In 2024, the Creative Communities program will bring proposals to the April, July, and October board meetings. We encourage grant seekers to submit CIFs at least 3 months prior to when proposals are due, based on the Board Meeting schedule below. Proposal Due Dates are referenced as corresponding submission deadlines for invited applications.

CIFs can be submitted up to the following dates
Full Invited Proposals Due
Board Review Meeting
October 26, 2023
January 26, 2024
April 26, 2024
January 26, 2024
April 26, 2024
July 26, 2024
April 26, 2024
July 26, 2024
October 25, 2024

Funding requests at or below $110,000 may be reviewed outside of the Foundation's scheduled Board meeting dates by staff and Board leadership. Review of the CIF and the funding level request are both used to determine if a request for funding will be invited at a level that does not require going to one of the quarterly board meetings.


What to Expect After Submitting a Concept Inquiry Form

Grant development is an iterative process between the Foundation and applicant organization. After submitting a CIF, a Creative Communities team member will be in touch to gain more information and/or communicate next steps based on alignment to a funding strategy, project readiness, and timeline. This communication is typically initiated within 4-6 weeks. An invitation to submit a full application is required to advance a concept to a full proposal.

If a CIF is declined, it may be for reasons of eligibility, available resources, or priority shifts in the program. If the applicant organization is invited to submit a full application, a Creative Communities team member will send an invitation email that provides the link to access the portal, an explanation of the submission process, and the due date.

After submission of the full application, Creative Communities staff may ask for clarification about aspects of the proposed work and budget. As this is an iterative process, the original application may require edits and resubmission to finalize this information. Having a request for funding go before the Foundation’s board does not guarantee funding will be awarded or awarded at the requested level.

Creative Communities staff may request meetings, site visits, or follow up conversations to help build our understanding of an organization, meet key staff/stakeholders, or see programming in-person.


Using a Fiscal Sponsor

Applicants may use a fiscal sponsor for fiduciary oversight of a grant with these considerations:

  1. If a grant is awarded, the Foundation will enter a contractual relationship/grant agreement with the fiscal sponsor, not the project, and the fiscal sponsor will legally be the grantee.
  2. A representative who is authorized to legally bind the fiscal sponsor will be required to sign the grant agreement.
  3. As the grantee, the fiscal sponsor will be responsible for fulfilling all terms and conditions of the grant agreement, including the reporting requirements.
  4. Payments will be made directly to the fiscal sponsor.


General Operating Support

It is Foundation policy not to fund more than 25% of an organization’s operating budget. The Foundation may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis under limited circumstances, subject to approval by its board of directors.


Overhead/Indirect Costs

Direct costs can include funding for staff, materials, and other organizational costs related to the project. We also encourage organizations to include funding to support related indirect costs or overhead. The percentage allowed for indirect costs to support a project cannot exceed 25% of the total requested amount and is determined with the Program Officer. Program staff work with applicants on a case-by-case basis to determine what is reasonable and appropriate and in proportion to the organization, scope of work, and level of reporting required under the intended grant. The amount of indirect expenses should be allocated over the term of the request and entered as part of the Project Budget.


Additional Reviews Done on Every WPF Application

  • Financial Review – The Foundation conducts an in-depth financial review to assess the financial health of each applicant organization to ensure the prospective grantee has the capacity to carry out the work during the grant period. The assessment identifies potential risks and determines the level of WPF financial exposure. Finance staff use the financial statements provided to make this assessment. Members of the Foundation’s finance team may contact the applicant organization directly to clarify or request further information if needed.
  • Legal Review – Proposals may require legal review, especially for advocacy requests or if lobbying activities are included as part of the proposed work. (Please refer to our Advocacy and Lobbying Guidelines). Legal review is necessary on more complex grants such as unusual grantee structures, recoverable grants, program related investments (PRIs), or grants of a very significant size. These may require communications with our legal representatives to assure that potential grants are aligned with IRS requirements.


Advocacy and Lobbying Guidelines

If a funding request supports advocacy efforts and/or lobbying activities, which is not typical for work funded through the Creative Communities program, please follow these guidelines.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prohibits private foundations from earmarking grant funds for “lobbying.” However, the IRS allows private foundations to fund projects undertaken by section 501(c)3 public charities that include lobbying activities so long as the private foundation demonstrates that its grant funds are not earmarked for any lobbying activities and the grant satisfies the “Project Grant Rule.” The Foundation uses the Project Grant Rule as set forth in the IRS Regulations. Under the Project Grant Rule, the total grant requested from the Foundation cannot exceed the total non-lobbying portion of the project.

The Project Grant Rule pertains to lobbying as defined by the IRS in section 170(c)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. Using the IRS definition of lobbying, applicants should estimate the cost of lobbying and non-lobbying activities for the proposed work and provide the expected lobbying budget for each project year. The full project should be considered to determine lobbying costs, not just the portion of funding to be requested from the Foundation. The Foundation cannot fully and appropriately review the proposal until this information is provided. If lobbying activities are included in the project, the Foundation cannot be the sole source of funding for the project. Adequate sources of other committed, pending, and anticipated funding should be available and indicated on the "Other Funding" tab of the application form. This support must reflect donations or pledges of cash; the IRS will not consider in-kind support for Project Grant Rule purposes.

To use the Project Grant Rule, applicants are required to have enough non-WPF funds on hand to cover the full amount of the lobbying allocation prior to the request being considered for approval. Program staff will work with applicants to resolve any issues if enough funds are not available by this time.

Also note that under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

If your organization has questions about how the Project Grant Rule or Campaign Intervention regulations apply to your project, please contact your organization’s legal or tax advisor.