William Penn Foundation Awards $15 Million for Pre-K in Philadelphia

The William Penn Foundation has announced a $15 million grant in support of high-quality early childhood education in Philadelphia, with a focus on low-income families.

The grant to the Fund for Quality, a local initiative that provides capital and planning services for the expansion of early childhood facilities, is in addition to $7.65 million in loan capital from the Reinvestment Fund, a network of socially motivated investors. The new funding will enable fifteen hundred seats to be added to high-quality pre-K programs by January 2021. Aimed at expanding the availability of and access to high-quality early learning opportunities in the city, the Fund for Quality was launched in 2014 with a $4.6 million grant from the foundation and $1.5 million in capital from the Reinvestment Fund and is operated by the latter and the Public Health Management Corporation.

"We owe every child the opportunity for a strong start," said foundation board chair Janet Haas. "Over the last two years the Fund for Quality added six hundred and thirty new, high-quality spots in early childhood education, and 90 percent of those spots are occupied by children of low-income families. Every year new children will get to sit in those seats, meaning that over time this will change the trajectory of thousands of young lives."

"The early efforts of the Fund for Quality to support expansion of seventeen early childhood education centers show us that achieving universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten is within reach for the City of Philadelphia," said Reinvestment Fund CEO Don Hinkle-Brown. "We are grateful to be able to collaborate with the William Penn Foundation and PHMC on this and salute Mayor [Jim] Kenney for his strong commitment to quality universal pre-K for the children of Philadelphia. This kind of smart public-private partnership is what it's going to take to get us there."