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Creative Communities - Great Public Spaces

Grants to New Jersey and Pennsylvania Organizations
to Enhance Public Spaces in Camden and Philadelphia

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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William Penn Foundation

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Deadline Date:



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Grants to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey organizations for projects that improve and increase access to public spaces and parks, especially in low or moderate income communities. Applicants must submit an LOI prior to submitting a full application. Funding is intended for parks, libraries, recreation centers, trails, waterways, community gardens, community centers, plazas, and play areas.

The Foundation believes that great public spaces strengthen communities. They are places in which we spend time with family, friends, and neighbors. They can also promote health through physical activity, help children learn through play, enhance appreciation of the natural environment, and offer platforms for cultural expression.

The Foundation seeks to fund public space efforts that value:
- Enriching Experiences: members of the public, especially children and elders, experience the space in ways that promote wellbeing and joy.
- Meaningful Community and Stakeholder Involvement: local knowledge, expertise, and interests are respected through engagement, partnership, and co-creation.
- Inclusion: public spaces strive for social and racial inclusivity, e.g., through age-friendly design, multi-lingual communication, culturally-relevant programming, transportation access, and marketing.
- Civic and Natural Context: public spaces reflect their local community and/or natural context, e.g., through public art, ecological restoration, or other connections to area histories.
- Quality Design and Materials: quality design and materials contribute to positive community identity, ensure durability and longevity, and contribute to environmental sustainability.
- Resilience: stewardship and maintenance are priorities, not afterthoughts.

What The Foundation Funds:
- Public space initiatives which directly serve low or moderate income communities or which serve citywide populations and are of significant civic importance to Philadelphia or Camden.
- Initiatives that seek to strengthen the local public space sector, e.g., network building, peer-learning, communications, and other efforts focused on system and sector-wide impact.
- Meaningful community engagement and community partnership development.
- Capital projects, including: design, materials, and construction.
- Pilots or proof-of-concept efforts, including those related to programming or the development of a new revenue source.
- Efforts that seek to remove barriers to equitable access, such as transportation network and connectivity enhancements, language access, communications, or marketing.
- Research, planning, and evaluation.
- One-time organizational capacity-building for public space stewards in the form of: Strategic or business planning, organizational restructuring, alliance or merger facilitation, training, professional development, and key staff recruitment.
- Public space efforts that also advance the Foundation’s Arts and Culture, Watershed Protection, and Great Learning strategies are desirable, though not required.

The Foundation typically provides funding for projects rather than general operating support. However, direct costs can include funding for staff, materials, and other organizational costs associated with the project, and the Foundation encourages organizations to include funding to support related indirect costs or overhead in the project budget.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179166

Estimated Size of Grant:

The size of a grant from the Foundation depends on the nature of the proposed work and the need of a particular project.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Organizations running public space initiatives in Philadelphia or Camden are welcome to apply.

What the Foundation Does Not Fund:
- Projects that do not demonstrate clear alignment with the Great Public Spaces strategy, especially related to community involvement and partnerships;
- Projects that do not demonstrate credible, realistic, reasonable work plans and budgets;
- Spaces located outside of Philadelphia and Camden;
- Spaces that are not publicly accessible;
- Spaces that are privately owned or primarily profit-seeking;
- Athletic leagues;
- Streetscape or corridor beautification projects;
- Public or private memorials;
- Projects that represent a new, unfunded burden on City resources;
- Routine maintenance or ongoing operational support.

Funding will not be considered to any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, or sexual orientation in policy or practice.

Please note that it is Foundation policy not to fund more than 25% of an organization’s operating budget for more than three individual years in any given five-year period. The Foundation may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis under limited circumstances, subject to approval by the board of directors.

Pre-Application Information:

The Foundation has a two-stage online application process which includes an initial inquiry and an invited full proposal.

Step 1: Inquiry

Organizations that are new to the Foundation begin by creating an online account as part of the initial Inquiry form. Inquiries are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis. Once an inquiry is received, organizations are typically notified of next steps within 30 days.

Step 2: Full Proposal

If an organization is invited to proceed to the second stage of the process and submit a full proposal, the following timeline is provided as a guide for when materials are due for consideration at a board meeting. Organizations are encouraged to submit their materials by these deadlines. Your program officer will let you know when materials need to be submitted for consideration at a particular board meeting.

Inquiries due: June 14, 2019
Proposals Due: July 26, 2019
Scheduled Board Review: November 1, 2019

Inquiries due: September 6, 2019
Proposals Due: October 25, 2019
Scheduled Board Review: February 7, 2020

Inquiries due: November 29, 2019
Proposals Due: January 17, 2020
Scheduled Board Review: April 24, 2020

Inquiries due: February 28, 2020
Proposals Due: April 17, 2020
Scheduled Board Review: July 24, 2020

Inquiries due: June 19, 2020
Proposals Due: July 31, 2020
Scheduled Board Review: November 6, 2020

Grants at or below $82,500 are not required to be considered at a board meeting, and thus do not follow the deadline schedules above. However all grants are reviewed and approved by Foundation board members. The program officer can provide more information about the timing and process for these types of requests. They typically follow the same two-step process outlined above.

The Foundation will consider multiple applications from an organization, so long as total funding does not exceed the 25% threshold noted above.

A match for grant requests is not required unless specifically communicated by the program officer during the application process. However, part of the Foundation’s focus on collaboration and fostering partnerships is an interest in bringing together multiple funders around shared priorities. The Foundation always welcome the opportunity to pool resources.

Application Information:

Grant Information:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Cara Ferrentino, Program Officer, Public Space

Tamika Holman, Associate, Grants Management

For questions about the application process that are not answered here or in program-specific FAQs, please contact us at

Click here to submit an online inquiry:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: New Jersey: Camden;   Pennsylvania: Philadelphia

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