Philly parks, libraries get $100M grant for makeover

Charles Mostoller

Amid year-over-year budget cuts to Philadelphia’s libraries, parks and recreation centers, the William Penn Foundation just announced its largest-ever grant to revitalize these neighborhood institutions.

The Old City-based nonprofit is giving $100 million to the city. It’s a grantthat covers one-fifth of the costs of a joint publicand private initiative to revitalize parks, rec centers, libraries and playgrounds across PhillycalledRebuild.

William Penn’s grant will be officially announced at a news conference Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“We want to provide opportunity for all Philadelphia citizens, from the youngest children all the way to the most senior citizens, to come together, to get to know one another,”Janet Haas, chairwoman of William Penn’s board of directors, said in a news release. “Particularly in these times in our country, it’s even more important.”

The foundation approved an initial grant just shy of $5 million in July for initial implementation, according to The Associated Press. After the citypasses a proposed $300 million city bond issue for the program, William Penn will release another $75 million. City officials are expected to seek council approval for the first of three $100 million bonds early next year, the Inquirer reported.

The remaining $20 million will be split between the foundation and matching contributions from state, federal and other philanthropic sources.

“Not only are we interested in creating places for community interaction and engagement to occur, but we also want the process of designing and building these new places to deeply involve local residents, thereby inspiring a strong sense of ownership and stewardship for these new assets within the community,” Haas said.

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