Initiative to Expand High-Quality Early Learning Grows with $3.8 Million Grant from William Penn Foundation

Great Learning

Initiative to Expand High-Quality Early Learning Grows with $3.8 Million Grant from William Penn Foundation

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Source: William Penn Foundation

For eight years, the Fund for Quality has increased the availability of high-quality early childhood education for children across Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA (May 31, 2022) – Today, the William Penn Foundation announced a $3.8 million grant to Reinvestment Fund to continue operating the Fund for Quality. The local initiative provides capital funding and planning services for the expansion of high-quality early childhood education facilities in Philadelphia. Through the Fund for Quality, childcare businesses and non-profit organizations have expanded their high-quality early learning programs to provide care and education for thousands more children each year, either by opening a new location or expanding their footprint at a current site. A report on the impact of the Fund for Quality found that the initiative has reduced shortages of high-quality childcare in communities across the city.

The William Penn Foundation supported the launch of the Fund for Quality in 2014 and made a $15 million grant in 2016. The initiative has created over 3,000 more seats for children in high-quality early learning programs in Philadelphia. With this next phase of funding, it is anticipated that by 2024 an additional 680 seats will be added by supporting the expansion of a limited number of high-quality Philadelphia ECE centers that meet readiness criteria for expansion.

“The Fund for Quality has a track record of success in increasing families’ access to early childhood education programs,” said Elliot Weinbaum, Chief Philanthropy Officer at William Penn Foundation. “Over the course of eight years, this initiative has fine-tuned the process for supporting high-quality program operators to expand in neighborhoods where data showed children’s access to these opportunities was previously limited.”

“The Fund for Quality has provided my organization with the opportunity to serve more children and families, who were on our waitlist, in a state-of-the-art classroom with all of the materials, tools, and furniture needed in a high-quality setting. It has also provided opportunities for members of the community to enter the ECE workforce and become employed with us,” said Damaris Alvarado-Rodriguez, owner of Children’s Playhouse Early Learning Center. “The technical assistance, resources, and support that I received through the Fund for Quality, in addition to the grant dollars, were what I needed in order to grow and to remain sustainable, while preparing our future leaders for kindergarten.”

The Fund for Quality is operated by Reinvestment Fund and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). In addition to the William Penn Foundation, Vanguard Strong Start for Kids ProgramTM has also previously provided grant funds for high-quality providers through the program. In addition, Reinvestment Fund has provided $3 million in loan capital since 2014 to allow for larger expansion projects.

“The Fund for Quality has been a critical resource to early learning providers across the city who have been working to give more families and children access to the high-quality care and education that they need and deserve,” said Sara Vernon Sterman, Chief Program Officer at Reinvestment Fund. “We are grateful to the William Penn Foundation for this infusion of capital that will enable the program to continue to partner with providers to build sustainable operations and grow.”

The Fund for Quality is instrumental to other citywide efforts to increase access to early childhood education, such as the City of Philadelphia’s PHLpreK program, which funds free high-quality early learning services for three- and four-year-olds. The Fund for Quality helps increase seats in the early learning centers that already meet high-quality requirements so that capacity exists to serve more children through PHLpreK or other childcare subsidies.

“In our work with Fund for Quality, PHMC deploys individualized learning environment and business practice consultation to ensure that early learning programs develop sustainable business models, achieve their expansion goals, and maintain program quality. The Fund for Quality approach establishes a model for achieving population-level early learning impacts using data-informed and provider-driven strategies,” said Amanda Atkinson, Managing Director of Child Development and Family Services at PHMC. “PHMC is proud of this partnership with Reinvestment Fund and is eager to continue the work with this generous investment from the William Penn Foundation.”

The Fund for Quality was developed based on a comprehensive analysis by Reinvestment Fund of the availability of high-quality early childhood education in Philadelphia and the accessibility of childcare for families. Reinvestment Fund’s analysis was funded by the William Penn Foundation and has been updated annually since 2014. Data from the analysis informs the Childcare Map, accessible at, an interactive tool that helps parents, policymakers, and providers identify where high-quality early childhood education is available, where areas of scarcity exist, and where investments are most needed.

Reinvestment Fund’s latest analysis of childcare supply and demand in Philadelphia found that by early 2021, the total number of available seats in childcare settings in Philadelphia had been affected by closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, though the number of high-quality seats remained relatively stable.

Philadelphia has a total of approximately 11,000 more high-quality early learning seats than in 2014, with the Fund for Quality generating 3,000 of those new seats, or more than a third of the overall growth. Other coordinated initiatives designed to support and sustain a higher quality of childcare programs across the city have also played an important role. The share of high-quality early learning seats has grown from 25% to 37% of all available childcare options in Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia has benefitted from the commitment, creativity, and levels of coordination and collaboration demonstrated by our local early learning sector for many years, but we must address the significant underfunding and systemic issues that continue to impede our nation’s ability to provide high-quality care and learning opportunities for children who are not yet in kindergarten,” said Weinbaum at William Penn Foundation. “We will continue to provide support and work with partners in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania so that every family has the ability to give their children a strong start.”

To learn more about the Fund for Quality, visit


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, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at

About Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at

About Public Health Management Corporation

Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, businesses, and community-based organizations. The PHMC Child Development and Family Services (CDFS) team has a mission to ensure that all children, and particularly those at-risk, have access to high-quality early learning experiences. CDFS designs and implements culturally responsive models for direct service, intermediary support, and quality improvement initiatives. PHMC has served the Greater Philadelphia region since 1972 as an innovator in the field of public health. With more than 3,500 employees, hundreds of programs and a network of subsidiary organizations, PHMC serves hundreds of thousands of clients annually and is one of the largest and most comprehensive public health organizations in the nation. Learn more at