Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

The Philadelphia Foundation is having a birthday — and it’s giving the gifts

A new "Keys to Community” grant program will award $1 million, split among nine "impactful" proposals. The philanthropic organization is celebrating its centennial.

Philadelphia Foundation president and CEO Pedro A. Ramos
Philadelphia Foundation president and CEO Pedro A. RamosRead more

The Philadelphia Foundation is sweetening its grant-making in 2019 by about $1 million to help draw attention to its centennial and the importance of philanthropy in the region. The one-time-only program will seek applications from area nonprofits for innovative ideas, said foundation president and CEO Pedro A. Ramos.

After a panel of experts has narrowed down the applications in the “Keys to Community” grant program, the public will have a chance to vote on the finalists.

“For us, this is a concentrated effort not only to draw attention to the power of philanthropy, but also to provide the public an opportunity to participate in it,” Ramos said.

The foundation plans to divide the “Keys to Community” money among nine grants — three first-place winners of $200,000 each, three second-place winners of $100,000 each, and three third-place winners receiving $33,000 each.

The Philadelphia Foundation typically throws its weight behind general operating support for groups, but here, Ramos said, it is seeking ideas “where there is an opportunity to accelerate or execute an impactful project.” All nonprofit sectors will be considered — arts, education, health and human services, and so on — and applicants from the five Southeastern Pennsylvania counties plus Camden and Burlington Counties are eligible.

More broadly, the foundation is looking for project ideas that fall within one of three categories, which it describes as addressing: “economic prosperity”; the “opportunity divide”; and “community and civic engagement.”

The foundation expects to issue a formal request for proposals in mid-March and announce winners by the end of July.

On top of the grants it plans to disperse through this program, the Foundation is doubling the value of its work with Catchafire, a clearinghouse that matches nonprofits and volunteer skilled professionals, to $2 million worth of pro bono support.

The Philadelphia Foundation had assets in excess of $500 million as of the end of 2018, Ramos said. In 2017 it gave $5.6 million in grants whose recipients were identified through a staff-led process, $1 million in scholarships, and $15.7 million in grants whose recipients were determined by the donor or by a designee or process established by a donor.

Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes the Inquirer, the Daily News, and, is owned by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which operates under the auspices of the Philadelphia Foundation. The Lenfest Institute awards grants to a number of beneficiaries, including Philadelphia Media Network.