Watershed Protection


Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Source: William Penn Foundation

Funding from the William Penn Foundation will Support The Alliance for Watershed Education for

Three More Years of Collaboration


PHILADELPHIA (May 30, 2019) – Supporting a long-term vision to secure clean water in the Delaware River Watershed, the William Penn Foundation awarded $6.1 million to a network of environmental centers to fund their ongoing commitment to building greater awareness of and appreciation for our region’s primary source of clean water. Twenty three centers participate in the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River, and this new funding will support their continued collaboration.

The Delaware River system supplies drinking water to more than 13 million people in four states. Since 2017 the member centers of the Alliance have worked together to educate people about the importance of, and need to protect, clean water and habitats within the watershed, which is especially important given a growing urgency around safeguarding our water against a variety of threats including the possibility of reduced federal oversight of fragile ecosystems. The centers are all located within the 13,500-square-mile Delaware River watershed, and are rooted in varied neighborhoods, many in the urban core of Philadelphia and Camden, and others in more rural areas. All of the centers are positioned adjacent to the region’s rivers and streams, and many are also located along the Circuit Trails, making them more accessible. The centers’ locations provide significant opportunity to partner with local residents, community organizations, and school groups to grow awareness around protecting their shared source of water.

All 23 centers in the Alliance provide watershed education programs on or near local waterways that aim to cultivate an environmental awareness and ethic among visitors. By collaborating, the centers benefit from shared resources and deepened partnerships with each other and nearby communities. In its first two years, the Alliance has:

  • Established and grown its annual “River Days” series of events across the watershed, reaching more than 15,000 people through environmentally-focused events;
  • Encouraged more than 10,000 people to hike, bike, or boat more than 15,000 collective miles as part of River Days 2018;
  • Employed more than 60 young adults interested in the environment as summer fellows; and
  • Led six professional development workshops to improve knowledge and skills of environmental educators in the Alliance.

Looking to the future, the Alliance is focused on providing high-quality experiential education programs that will inspire people to protect the health of the Delaware River watershed, with a particular focus on engaging culturally diverse communities.

“The William Penn Foundation’s grant to support the Alliance for another three years is a great opportunity to reach even more people with experiential education programs that have real impact on participants' attitudes and willingness to be involved in assuring the future of clean water in this region,” said Brian DuVall, President and CEO, Center For Aquatic Sciences, and member of the Alliance’s leadership committee. “The centers of the Alliance are dedicated to dramatically increasing the number of people who are informed about our water and committed to ensuring our region sustains its clean water and healthy habitats into the future.”

The $6.1 million grant was awarded to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Since the formation of the Alliance, NWF has played an essential role in conceptualizing and fostering this network and will play a key role in managing grant funds over the next three years.

“At a time when much of the political discourse is racked with discord, the investment the William Penn Foundation made to help people engage in protecting wildlife and clean water in their communities helps show we all can make a difference," said Grant La Rouche, Director of Conservation Partnerships at the National Wildlife Federation. "The 23 education centers that comprise the Alliance are uniquely positioned to help their communities act locally to create a better future for the Delaware.”

“The Delaware River system has improved dramatically over the past 40 years, but it is still under threat from increasing pollution,” said Andrew Johnson, Watershed Protection Program Director, William Penn Foundation. “To ensure our water is protected into the future, we’re focusing funding on growing environmental stewardship across the region, and are pleased to support the Alliance for Watershed Education for their continued work as part of this effort.”

To learn more about the Alliance for Watershed Education, visit www.watershedalliance.org.



About the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River

The Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River (AWE) is a network of 23 environmental centers who envision a healthy Delaware River watershed with people empowered to sustain it. AWE’s member centers are located near rivers and streams in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and many are connected by regional Circuit Trails or other connecting trails. AWE works to increase knowledge and appreciation of the watershed, a 13,500-square-mile system that provides clean drinking water for more than 13 million people. The centers aim to inspire diverse communities to protect the watershed. The Alliance receives major funding from the William Penn Foundation.


About the William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.6 billion as of December 31, 2017.