WPF Awards Racial Equity and COVID-19 Relief Grants

WPF Awards Racial Equity and COVID-19 Relief Grants

Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2020
Source: William Penn Foundation

To our grantees and partners:

The William Penn Foundation Board of Directors continues to meet frequently to review special grant proposals supporting racial equity and COVID-19 relief across all our program areas. We are pleased to share the following details about efforts to advance racial equity and racial justice in the conservation movement, an equitable grantmaking pilot, continued support for food access in the region, and relief support for arts organizations.

We hope sharing this information helps create connections and increase coordination among all those working on behalf of Philadelphia and the region. Every day we are inspired by the work that you do, and we are grateful for your energy and service.


Janet Haas, M.D.

Board Chair

Racial Equity

This summer, our board committed to ensuring that William Penn Foundation consciously contributes to urgently needed efforts to advance inclusion and racial diversity. In September, our Board committed funding to specifically advance racial equity in the following ways:

Watershed Protection: To support improved organizational practices around racial equity in the environmental sector, our Watershed Protection Program awarded a grant to Youth Outside to facilitate an intensive, cohort-based virtual program of cultural relevancy workshops and individualized coaching for leaders from up to 20 grantee organizations. Training series will be tailored to the selected organizations' needs and may be suitable for any watershed protection grantee that is committed to long-term equity and inclusion changes within their organization. ($200,000 over 12 months)

Great Learning: WPF will pilot a new approach to more equitable grantmaking. This effort is designed to support small organizations led by – and primarily serving – people of color and will focus on supporting families with young children. This pilot program will allow WPF to explore ways to share power: The development of selection criteria, review of proposals, and selection of grantees will be led primarily by community members. A consultant will facilitate and evaluate this effort to help us gather insights and learn from the project, as well as create opportunities for networking among the grantee organizations. More details about the program and how organizations can apply will be announced in future communications. ($450,000)

COVID-19 Relief

Grants were awarded to:

  • Step Up to the Plate (Broad Street Ministry) to continue providing meal service to Philadelphians experiencing homelessness and hunger, while planning for the extended future of this effort into 2021. Originally conceived as emergency response to an anticipated short-term need, Step Up to the Plate is now in its sixth month of operation with no abatement in current demand and potential increased need in the months ahead. This collaborative effort led by Broad Street Ministry, Project Home, Prevention Point PHL, and SEAMAAC currently provides 13,000 meals per week at sites in Center City, Kensington and South Philadelphia. ($300,000)
  • Share Food Program to improve and expand its food storage, handling, and delivery infrastructure. Share Food Program is the largest food bank and hunger relief organization in the region, currently delivering enough food for 1.5 million meals each week through a regional network of food pantries. Share Food Program also manages the National School Lunch Program that provides nutrition to 305,000 children across the region. ($500,000)

Creative Communities: Our New Audiences/New Places strategy, which sought to support creative expression in public and non-traditional spaces, has been constrained by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public programming, particularly large in-person gatherings, is now limited due to COVID-19, and organizations that offer these programs will continue to face this reality for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, a total of $916,763 was awarded to the following applicants to the New Audiences/New Places program as unrestricted relief support to continue to manage the impacts of the crisis on their work:

  • African Cultural Alliance of North America
  • BalletX
  • Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
  • Bowerbird, Inc.
  • Camden Repertory Theatre
  • CultureTrust/Juniper Productions
  • CultureTrust/Power Street Theatre Co.
  • CultureTrust/We Are the Seeds
  • Encore Series, Inc.
  • Headlong Dance Theater
  • Headlong Dance Theater/Jumatatu Poe Dance
  • Intercultural Journeys
  • Koresh Dance Company
  • Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates
  • Philadelphia Orchestra Association
  • University of Pennsylvania - WXPN-FM

Great Learning: A grant to The Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia provided backpacks and learning supplies to students attending the City’s new Access Centers – safe, supervised spaces for K-6 students to access their school’s virtual learning program when a caregiver cannot be home during the school day. ($60,000)