Great Learning


Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Source: William Penn Foundation

Today, the William Penn Foundation announced an additional $15 million grant to the Fund for Quality, the local initiative that provides capital and planning services for the expansion of high-quality early childhood education facilities in Philadelphia, particularly for families with low incomes. In addition to the grant funds available to high-quality providers, Reinvestment Fund has committed up to $7.65 million in loan capital from its network of 850 socially motivated investors, to be used for facility expansion. The Fund for Quality began in 2014 with an initial $4.6 million grant from the William Penn Foundation and an additional $1.5 million in capital from Reinvestment Fund. The Fund for Quality is operated by Reinvestment Fund and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) to increase the availability and accessibility of high-quality early learning opportunities throughout the city. The Fund for Quality helps high quality centers serve more children in current sites and open new sites in areas of high need.

“The Fund for Quality has made a significant impact on expanding quality pre-K throughout Philadelphia. This investment helps providers enhance facilities, enroll more students, and grow businesses,” said Mayor Kenney. “My Administration is committed to increasing quality pre-K opportunities, but we certainly cannot do it alone. Business and philanthropic participation is critical to the success of this effort so I’m extremely grateful for William Penn Foundation’s ongoing leadership and investment in early childhood education.”

Research from other cities shows that longer-term outcomes are significantly better for children that receive high-quality early childhood education. The High Scope Perry Pre-school study demonstrated that children in higher-quality programs achieved greater school readiness, higher levels of school commitment and achievement in the middle school years, higher high school completion, and higher wages. There are also economic benefits. Research conducted by University of Chicago professor of economics and Nobel Prize winner James Heckman suggests that for every $1 spent on preschool there was a $7 to $12 return back to society due to savings from reduced levels of crime, dependence on public benefits, and special education, and improvements in educational attainment and earnings.

“We owe every child the opportunity for a strong start,” said Dr. Janet Haas, chair of the Board of Directors of the William Penn Foundation. “Over the last two years the Fund for Quality added 630 new, high-quality spots in early childhood education, and 90 percent of those spots are occupied by children of low-income families. Every year new children will get to sit in those seats, meaning that over time this will change the trajectory of thousands of young lives,” she said. Dr. Haas added that the growth is the result of providers being able to expand in a responsible and affordable way through the Fund for Quality’s support.

Dr. Haas announced this new investment at Rising Stars APM Preschool Center where she was joined by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, officials from Reinvestment Fund and PHMC, and William Penn Foundation Executive Director, Laura Sparks.  APM is one of the early childhood education centers that were able to expand its facility to serve almost 60 more children as a result of the Fund for Quality’s support. 

“The early efforts of the Fund for Quality to support expansion of 17 early childhood education centers show us that achieving universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten is within reach for the city of Philadelphia,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “We are grateful to be able to collaborate with the William Penn Foundation and PHMC on this and salute Mayor Kenney for his strong commitment to quality universal pre-K for the children of Philadelphia. This kind of smart public-private partnership is what it’s going to take to get us there.”

“PHMC is thrilled to continue the work of this project and to support Mayor Kenney’s ambitious agenda to make high-quality pre-kindergarten available to every three and four year-old in Philadelphia,” said Natalie Renew, Managing Director, Early Childhood Education, PHMC. “The Fund for Quality has been so successful because it not only supports construction and renovation costs but provides intensive planning services to ensure that new high -quality seats will be sustainable and that child care agencies are strong and poised for further expansion.”

With this next phase of funding, it is anticipated that by January 2021, an additional 1,500 high-quality seats will be added, which means that over the coming years thousands more children from low-income families will be enrolled in high-quality child care in Philadelphia.  Others interested in supporting similar work should visit

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 child care for families. Reinvestment Fund’s analysis was funded by the William Penn Foundation and is accessible through, an interactive tool that helps parents, policymakers, and providers to identify where high quality early childhood education is available, where areas of scarcity exist, and where investments are most needed.


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. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets totaled approximately $2.3 billion as of December 31, 2015.

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 PHMC
Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices and evidence-based guidelines to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce. PHMC has served the region since 1972. PHMC has a diverse portfolio of early childhood education services including the Southeast Regional Key, the Philadelphia Head Start Partnership and several others designed to ensure that all children in our region, and particularly those at risk, have access to high-quality early learning experiences.