Groups that help Philadelphians become homeowners, make their homes energy efficient, and become leaders through basketball skills each won $200,000 Wednesday evening from Philadelphia Foundation as part of a competition whose winners were selected by online voting.
The foundation awarded $1 million in “Key to Community” grants during a ceremony at the Comcast Technology Center. Second-place winners will each receive $100,000, while third-place winners get $33,000.
The Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE) fosters home ownership and development in Northeast Philadelphia. With the grant, HACE plans to establish a “Good Lands Trust” that will let people buy homes owned by the organization at an affordable cost and increase the number of Fairhill-area residents who own homes. The other winners in the economic prosperity category are Philabundance and the Urban League of Philadelphia.
The Energy Coordinating Agency provides low-income families with help for home energy repairs and weatherization, as well as running energy training programs. It plans to bolster a maintenance and repair training program geared toward people recently released from prison. The second- and third-place winners for creating equitable communities were TechGirlz and Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey.
Philadelphia Youth Basketball helps young people with leadership and academic development through basketball. It hopes to keep more teenagers in school by boosting its after-school programming. Defender Association of Philadelphia and New Leash on Life USA are the two other winners in the civic and community engagement category.
When discussing the winners, Diane Melley, who runs initiatives honoring the foundation’s centennial, said HACE and the Energy Coordinating Agency are “clearly demonstrating to residents what is the problem, and what are we [the organizations] doing to solve it.” She also extolled the basketball program’s “long-term solution” for “building integrity in young people.”
The nine winners were chosen out of 15 finalists, vetted by experts and philanthropists, through an online poll that attracted about 200,000 votes. All of the finalists will be invited to leadership-development programs.
Philadelphia Foundation had not run a public poll competition like this before, but chose to do so because it wants “the private sector, the public sector, and the nonprofit sector” to join in engaging with these issues, said Melley.
“I don’t know if I would classify any of the winners as household names before the vote,” Pedro A. Ramos, foundation president and CEO, said, adding that it was “fulfilling ... at every stage” to see such a large response from nonprofit applicants and voters alike.
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