PHILADELPHIA (June 30, 2020) – William Penn Foundation (WPF) today announced $2.6 million in additional support for efforts that address the impacts on Philadelphians of COVID-19 and the economic shutdown. In its fifth special meeting since March, the Board of Directors approved a series of grants to immediately support multiple elements of recovery, including efforts to support early learning, youth programs and employment, and food access.
The grants detailed below advance WPF’s commitment to supporting regional COVID-19 recovery in ways that are racially, economically, and socially just.
“We know that much work is needed to ensure that all Philadelphians share in the recovery from COVID-19,” said Janet Haas, M.D., Board Chair of William Penn Foundation. “Back to normal’ is not our goal, nor should it be; we know that our country’s ‘normal’ was neither just nor inclusive of communities of color. These initial grants signify our commitment to helping ensure that all Philadelphians have the opportunities and resources needed to thrive.”
WPF has a long track record of seeking to improve access to high-quality early learning opportunities for Philadelphia children. The need to support early childhood education has only increased amid the pandemic and economic disruptions.
Organizations that run programs for young children have been required to significantly alter the way they offer services and interact with families, from designing new online delivery models to significantly changing the in-person experience in order to accommodate social distancing and sanitizing routines. These adjustments can be costly for programs already operating with limited resources. The grants below support efforts to ensure young children receive critical learning supports this summer.
Grants were awarded to:
- The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium of the non-profit organization It Takes Philly, Inc. to provide COVID-19 testing for early learning program staff in high risk communities of color to minimize spread of COVID-19. There is a particular need to reduce virus infection in Black communities, where mortality rates have been the highest. Focusing on areas of the city that experienced particularly high numbers of COVID-19 disease and death and are more than 80 percent African American, the Consortium will coordinate with early learning programs to conduct COVID-19 testing to assist with safe re-opening of childcare centers. Using its mobile testing van, the Consortium plans to test more than 1,500 early learning program staff.
- Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) to provide free childcare health consultation services and personal protective equipment and disinfectant supplies to up to 800 Philadelphia early learning providers. Individualized guidance from consultants trained in childcare and health and safety precautions will help providers limit potential spread of infection when they re-open to support families.
- Health Federation of Philadelphia (HFP) to ensure that families receiving home visiting services have access to the internet to maintain regular contact with their home visitors through video conferencing. Since mid-March, home visiting programs have worked hard to continue to support families with young children, but technology, particularly reliable internet service, continues to be a barrier for some families. HFP will work with the network of Philadelphia home visiting programs to supply 750 families with tablet computers that can also serve as mobile internet hot spots with unlimited high-speed data.
- Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) to provide a modified, virtual version of the ParentChild Plus home visiting program this summer. COVID-19 has made it extremely difficult for families living in PHA developments to participate in existing early childhood programs offered by PHA. To help mitigate learning loss and reduce family stress, 50 families with children ranging in age from 16 months to 5 years will receive twice weekly Zoom “visits” from a community-based early learning expert, as well as children’s books and educational toys. ParentChild Plus home visitors coach adult caregivers on the best ways to use books and play to support their child’s development.
Grants supporting organizations to modify summer and afterschool programming were awarded to:
- Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) to transform the out-of-school time (OST) programming it provides to 250 youth at 11 sites. PHA and its partner organizations will redesign and implement enhanced OST programming that responds to current conditions, including developing print materials and virtual programming, and extending the “Lunch and Literacy” program at three PHA sites. PHA is working to substantially expand internet access at its sites, which will strengthen this work and the virtual home visiting supports noted above.
- Philadelphia Parks Alliance to provide Philadelphia Parks & Recreation summer camps with additional supplies needed to ensure social distancing among camp groups and reduce equipment sharing among children and staff.
URGENT COMMUNITY NEEDS
WPF will support select efforts outside of its core grantmaking programs to address community needs that have intensified as a result of the pandemic, including support for workforce and training and food access.
Grants were awarded to:
- Philly Summer Jobs Fund (Philadelphia Youth Network) to expand and adapt the annual WorkReady Philadelphia program that connects youth and young adults age 12 to 24 with paid summer employment experiences. This year, more than 18,000 youth have applied to the program, which is quickly transitioning to offer digital work experiences via a network of more than 80 organizational partners. Participants will complete three tracks: career exposure, financial literacy, and digital literacy.
- Step Up to the Plate (Broad Street Ministry) to continue providing meal service to Philadelphians experiencing homelessness and hunger. This collaborative effort led by Broad Street Ministry, Project Home, and Prevention Point PHL is providing 2,000 meals per day at sites in Center City, Kensington and South Philadelphia. Many funders and partners have joined the effort, which represents a remarkable coming together of non-profits, for-profits, and the public sector to address an urgent need.
These grants follow earlier contributions totaling more than $11 million for emergency response, including the PHL COVID-19 Fund, the Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education, COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund, and Step Up to the Plate.
For more information on WPF’s COVID-19 response, visit: https://williampennfoundation.org/covid-19-updates.
About 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 2020, the Foundation will grant more than $117 million to support vital efforts in the region.
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William Penn Foundation