The William Penn Foundation has announced a commitment of up to $100 million to revitalize and renovate city parks, libraries, and recreational centers in Philadelphia.
The largest commitment in the foundation's history will cover one-fifth of Mayor Jim Kenney's six-year, $500 million Rebuild initiative, which aims to improve and replace city facilities that have fallen into disrepair due to budget constraints. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, some city parks haven't seen new equipment or significant upkeep for more than twenty years.
The lion's share of the foundation's commitment is contingent on the city floating $300 million in bonds to cover its portion of the initiative's cost. Approximately $4.8 million of the commitment is already being used to underwrite a planning process, while an additional $20 million will be structured as a one-to-two challenge grant to attract additional philanthropic and public funding.
The foundation has long supported efforts to remake some of the city's most important public spaces, including Logan Circle, the Delaware River Waterfront, the Schuylkill River Trail, and Dilworth Park. Nevertheless, its latest commitment sparked significant discussion at the board level, said foundation chair Janet Haas, who added that the foundation anticipates the funding to have a big impact and plans to remain engaged in the process to see that that happens. "It's a stretch. You really have to hold your breath to do this. But it's the right thing to do," Haas told the Inquirer. "It's out of the comfort zone, but big things always are."