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Bringing federal funding to the region for climate and environmental justice

Our foundation has a long history of helping the Philadelphia region access other philanthropic and public funding as a way of broadening and deepening our impact. Over the past year, we have focused on the unprecedented federal funding that has recently been made available to reduce climate pollution, help communities prepare for extreme weather, and address harm from toxic air, water, and soil. In the past 12 months, the William Penn Foundation has granted more than $6 million to help this region access federal funds that will help our communities to thrive under new and evolving conditions.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed by Congress in 2022, is making approximately $370 billion available for projects that reduce pollution, generate clean energy, and help vulnerable communities respond to extreme heat, storms, and flooding.  Almost 120 different programs provide grants, tax incentives, rebates, and low-cost loans for a wide variety of projects. For example, funding can help school districts replace diesel buses with electric, so that children aren’t exposed to harmful air pollution every time they ride. Funding can help nonprofits and local governments put solar panels on empty roofs to slash electricity bills and put more money toward needed staff and services. Funding can support home repair, so that families can stay cool during heatwaves and warm in the winter without breaking the bank, while transitioning to renewable energy and improving indoor air quality.  Funding can help communities with environmental justice concerns monitor pollution and then get resources to address and prevent the harms they experience. When these efforts are paired with equitable workforce development efforts, training local residents for family-sustaining jobs created by these investments, the economic benefits of this work extend even further.  

We want to attract as much funding to this region as possible. But meeting federal funding requirements can be challenging. To make federal funding more accessible, we have:

  • Supported grant writing processes, which can be time consuming and labor intensive for grantees.
  • Convened and coordinated with other funders to align resources. 
  • Made grants to key organizations working to help the region access funding and ensure it benefits the communities who need it the most.
  • Funded consultants to provide specialized technical assistance to assist local applicants in developing more competitive requests for funding.

In this post, we are excited to spotlight a group of strong and effective grantees who are creating the conditions for our region to benefit from federal climate and environmental justice funding for years to come.

Looking ahead, helping the region benefit from federal funding will continue to be a priority for the Foundation through our Democracy and Civic Initiatives program.


Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Local governments have a big role to play in bringing the benefits of federal funding to their communities; they are major building owners, fleet managers, stewards of local development, and direct service providers. However, outside the City of Philadelphia, many municipalities do not have the staff or capacity to develop eligible projects and apply for federal funding. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) provides a wide range of planning and programmatic support to the region related to clean energy, transportation, energy efficiency, and preparation for extreme weather. The William Penn Foundation’s grant is supporting DVRPC as it creates the structure, planning, data resources, and programmatic support for municipalities in the region so that they can apply for and successfully implement federal clean energy and climate funding.

Contact Karin Morris at [email protected] for more information. 


Green Building United

Buildings are a key focus for federal funding to reduce pollution and help communities to withstand extreme weather. The William Penn Foundation is funding Green Building United, working in collaboration with the Institute for Market Transformation, to develop a business plan for a regional building energy hub targeting priority building owners, who may include nonprofits, small businesses, and apartment building owners. To access federal funds, building owners may need technical assistance to understand their options for building improvements, find the right design professionals and contractors, and pursue financing and other federal funding incentives. Following completion of the business plan this fall, Green Building United will be seek funding to establish a regional building technical assistance hub.

If you’d like to share your perspective and support the development of a regional building energy hub, please complete this survey


Overbrook Environmental Education Center

With funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency established the Thriving Communities “Grantmakers” regranting program. Over the next three years, $40M will be re-granted across the Mid-Atlantic region to community-based organizations working on issues such as air pollution, toxic floodwaters, and soil contamination - many of which are made worse by extreme weather.

Alongside the Grantmakers program, the EPA has established 17 regional Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs). TCTACs are intended to help communities access Thriving Communities Grantmakers funds, as well as other federal funding. Grantmakers and TCTACs are working together to create a robust support network to assist eligible entities with applying for federal funding.

Overbrook Environmental Education Center (OEEC), founded in 2005 in the Darby-Cobbs watershed, is the TCTAC partner serving the Greater Philadelphia area as part of a Mid-Atlantic coalition led by National Wildlife Federation and University of Maryland’s Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice & Health. William Penn Foundation funding will enable the OEEC to establish a trusted and accessible technical assistance center to increase the capacity of environmentally overburdened and capacity- constrained communities in the Philadelphia region to address environmental and climate justice issues. This includes educating organizations about how to apply for funds from the EPA’s $40M Mid-Atlantic Grantmakers Fund allocation, and other sources. This fall, the OEEC will host a 3-day symposium in Philadelphia to bring together community-based organizations, academic partners, government agencies, and other stakeholders in support of building community capacity to address environmental justice challenges. Entities in the Greater Philadelphia area seeking technical assistance with applying for Grantmakers funds, or those who are interested in offering pro-bono services to assist others, can submit an interest form here


Philadelphia Energy Authority

WPF’s grant is helping the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) and the PEA’s green bank affiliate the Philadelphia Green Capital Corp (PGCC) directly apply for and administer federal funding. PEA and PGCC have already helped secure $156 million for Pennsylvania via the Solar for All Program, which will help low-income households benefit from solar energy and lower electricity bills. At least $70M of this award is designated for the five-county region of Southeastern PA.

In addition, PGCC is part of three winning coalition applications working to expand financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects; these three recent awards total $8.3 billion through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The Philadelphia region could receive millions of that funding. These dollars will make it easier for local governments, businesses, and property owners to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency projects that will save them money over time.

The William Penn Foundation’s grant also supports PEA’s Built to Last program. Built to Last is considered a national model for holistic, “whole” home repair that addresses urgent needs – like a leaky roof or hazardous wiring—while also completing efficiency upgrades like appliance electrification and solar installation where possible to reduce utility costs and help residents stay safe in extreme weather. Built to Last blends multiple sources of funding to complete home repairs and is on track to complete 800 homes by mid-2026. The program has already leveraged almost $6 million in federal funds, and PEA has created a path to draw down another $37 million in the form of rebates, tax incentives, and grants.

Looking ahead, the Philadelphia Energy Authority will be continuing to help the region apply for competitive grants, while also building out its capacity to provide legal and tax related guidance to organizations participating in its programs, to access federal funding.  If you are interested in participating in PEA/PGCC’s programs, visit or 


POWER Interfaith Philadelphia  

Community participation is essential for the effective and equitable roll out of federally-funded projects and programs. Although it is frequently a required component of competitive applications, it is unfortunately often not funded directly by the grants. William Penn Foundation funding will enable POWER Philadelphia to organize residents to participate in decision-making processes surrounding the development of federally-funded programs and related policies. As an example, POWER is a partner in the federally-funded Community Climate Shift initiative, coordinated by the Institute for Market Transformation and the People's Climate Innovation Center. As part of Community Climate Shift, POWER will organize residents to inform the development and support the adoption of equitable building performance standards and other climate-focused buildings programs in the City of Philadelphia (e.g., by ensuring programs include family-sustaining jobs and support for climate resilient homes).

If you are interested in learning more, contact Pamela Darville at [email protected].


In addition, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability has been actively tracking Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding opportunities and has initiated a quarterly IRA Forum comprised of city officials, community-based organizations, and funders to strategize about applicable funding, do matchmaking with interested entities and organizations, and report on the City’s collective progress in securing funding. The City of Philadelphia has been awarded $13 million to date, with hundreds of millions of dollars in applications still pending or in development. The Municipal Energy Office is providing assistance to departments to maximize funding for capital projects.

If you are interested in applying for IRA grant opportunities or would like to join the IRA Forum, please contact Dominique Smiley, Program Manager of Grants Management & Technical Assistance, at [email protected].