Strategic Planning Process: An Overview

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why did you decide to initiate a strategy revision now?

A: Our current grantmaking in education and environmental protection has been guided by priorities that were established in 2013 when we last conducted a comprehensive review of our work. At that time, we committed to evaluating our approaches and their impact after 10 years, which is where we are now.

Q: What is the timeline for the strategy revision?

A: We have months of work ahead of us to conduct research, community engagement, learning, and planning. We expect the process to be completed by summer 2024. At that time, we will introduce the strategies and guidelines for our work going forward.

Q: What will happen as part of the strategy revision?

A: Staff have already done a great deal of work looking back at our past grantmaking. Working with external evaluators, we have identified areas where we’ve had more and less success. Our Board has digested that information and identified areas where they would like us to explore for potential future work. At this point, staff along with external experts are gathering research and data on those areas. This will overlap with and be followed by stakeholder engagement to understand local strengths and opportunities. Staff will then take all that information – past performance, new research and data, community input – and propose ideas to our Board, which will make the final decisions about our future grantmaking. We hope to get final approval from our Board in the summer of 2024 with grantmaking under those guidelines to begin in the final quarter of 2024.

Q: Didn’t Creative Communities already go through this process?

A: Yes, Creative Communities completed a strategy review in 2021. As such, we are not revising the guidelines for this program as part of this process.

Q: Will your three overall program areas remain the same?

A: The Foundation will retain its focus on the success of children, access to a healthy natural and built environment, and a vibrant arts and culture sector. The way in which we pursue these first two areas is likely to evolve somewhat as we see gaps in our past work and look to seize new opportunities. We are also looking at some new areas of work that we believe are vital for the success of our region and its residents. One area that we are looking at in this regard is how we can help people to enter or advance in the labor force to build and sustain wealth.

Q: In addition to exploring ways to support more equitable access to recreational opportunities in the natural and built environment will the Foundation continue to prioritize water protection and conservation?

A: Over the past decade, our grantmaking has focused narrowly on efforts to improve water quality. Going forward, our environmental work will likely be somewhat broader, supporting residents in our region to access healthy spaces for interaction with each other and the natural world and for recreation while also working to help make communities more resilient in the face of ongoing climate change.

Q: Can you preview what some of the new areas might include?

A: Here is an example of some of the questions our Board has asked us to explore as part of this review process:

Are there non-academic services and more holistic approaches that the Foundation can support to strengthen early learning for children from birth to age 8 in Philadelphia, including expanded support for the role families play in early learning and development?
Building on our past support for public parks, regional trails, and open spaces, are there ways for the Foundation to support more equitable access to recreational opportunities in the natural and built environment, especially for nature-deprived communities?
Are there ways the Foundation can promote more environmentally resilient communities, including providing refuge for residents from the growing impacts of climate change?
Given the high rate of persistent poverty in Philadelphia and the fact that incomes in the city are inequitably distributed, are there ways that the Foundation can help people enter the labor force or progress into careers that provide family-sustaining wages and build and sustain wealth?

Q: Will you share updates about the process? How can I receive more information?

A: We will be sharing periodic updates via email and on our website as our strategy revision progresses. Please sign up for our email list (via our website) to receive email updates.

Q: What kind of changes do you expect? Will things like the grant application process, grant size and length, or the geographic footprint of your focus change?

A: We have months of work ahead of us in terms of research, community engagement, more learning, and planning. It’s too early to know where specific changes will occur. We expect the revision process to be complete by summer 2024 at which point we will introduce new strategies and guidelines.

Q: Are current grantees likely to receive funding under the new priorities?

A: Once we have identified the specific strategies and tactics that will guide our work, we will be in a much better position to say what organizations are likely to be funded. At this point, it is simply too soon to say. We will be in touch with current grantees about ways in which the Foundation is planning to support them through this period of transition. In addition, we will be making the broader community aware of funding opportunities through our communications in late summer 2024.

Q: Is it OK for me to contact my program officer during this time to talk about an existing grant?

A: Yes. You are always welcome to be in touch with your Program Officer to discuss an existing grant or to share your thoughts about important emerging priorities that the Foundation should consider.

Q: Is the Foundation accepting proposals for new grant ideas during this strategy revision period?

A: No. For our Board and staff to have the time to invest in the strategy revision process, we will not be developing or accepting proposals for new work related to the Great Learning or Watershed Protection programs for the next 12 months. Organizations with an active grant that supports work that plays a key role in advancing either of those two strategies as currently designed will hear from their program officers about how the Foundation will support them during our transition.