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Philadelphia Foundation President and CEO, Pedro Ramos, gives a presentation about the Foundation's past impacts and vision for the future. Photo: Alan Simpson
Philadelphia Foundation President and CEO, Pedro Ramos, gives a presentation about the Foundation's past impacts and vision for the future. Photo: Alan Simpson

Philadelphia Foundation: Celebrating 100 years of service

The community foundation launched a number of key initiatives to promote their big centennial anniversary.

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Since it was first established in 1918, the Philadelphia Foundation has always been about serving the Greater Philadelphia region and community.

That local community foundation is now celebrating their second century of service.

“We just turned 100, so we’re trying to make sure that we’re doing everything we can now to make sure that we’re as impactful and relevant for the next 100 years,” Philadelphia Foundation President & CEO, Pedro Ramos, said.

With Philadelphia's drastically changed demographics over these 100 years, the Philadelphia Foundation has also expanded their outreach over the years to connect to all the different communities that make up the city.

As part of the celebration, the Philadelphia Foundation announced the launch of four new community engagement initiatives, focusing on various key service roles.

One initiative is focused on increasing volunteership and leadership in the Greater Philadelphia region. The initiative, called ‘Key to Community’ will provide the public an opportunity to vote on the winner of $1 million worth of grants.

The Philadelphia Foundations offers several types of grant supports, including direct service, impact, and advocacy, as well as grants for youth.

“We want to provide opportunities for underrepresented people, and nonprofits, in general,” Phil Fitzgerald, Director of Grantmaking at Philadelphia Foundation, said. “Our goal is to increase the diversity and inclusion of people, especially communities that are impacted by issues that we are funding. We want them to be have an authentic stake in building a solution.”

The second initiative will allow an opportunity for the Philadelphia Foundation to strengthen their partnership with Catchafire, a national skills-based volunteer matching organization. The goal, in 2019, is to double last year’s deliverance of pro bono support to nonprofits to $2 million.

The third initiative will see a third-year return of On the Table Philly, where community members are afforded an opportunity to talk about critical issues within the region, helping make their community stronger.

Relating to this initiative, Ramos praised the power of people and the willingness of people to meet face-to-face in this era to figure out ways that they, individually and collectively, can make things better.

The Philadelphia Foundation is also partnering with the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, where members of the community will be able to participate in honoring the region.

“Everything… all the work we do is to connect neighbors to each other,” said Ramos. “We want to make it easier for people to connect to each other, and be able to turn intention into action.”

Journalism is another one of the many areas in which the Philadelphia Foundation has helped fund. In collaboration with the late Gerry Lenfest, who established the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Philadelphia Foundation has funded and supported a number of initiatives within the institute itself, and the journalism institute, in general. Efforts include fellowships, scholarships, convenings, and more.

"The big mission there to make sure that local journalism can sustain itself in the digital age," Ramos remarked. "That means having a big, broad readership that values the local news.”

A Refreshed Brand

With 100 years of service, the Philadelphia Foundation is also committed to refreshing their brand and identity.

“Not for the sake of having a fresh identity, but because it underserves the theme of connecting the community and connecting philanthropy, connecting nonprofits, and the business community,” said Ramos.

The rebranding will include a new website that will provide more accessibility to donors, nonprofits, students, professionals, and community members to learn more about how the Philadelphia Foundation can help them.

"Getting up every day to help connect people who want to do good and help make it easier to do good is an incredible mission," said Ramos.

Ramos added that the emphasis on community -- the aggregation of community interest, community well-being and community action --  is what makes the Philadelphia Foundation so great and effective.

"The Philadelphia Foundation’s always been a part of helping the community welcome and strengthen people who often come here vulnerable, and serving the vulnerable who’ve been here… making sure the organizations that service the vulnerable aren’t vulnerable themselves," he said.

“Our job is to make sure that we’re as impactful, and we have as much of an impact 100 years from now, as we have had so far [in the first 100 years]. 

"This organization has been doing it for 100 years, and 100 years from now, we’ll still be here doing it," he continued. "We’ll be doing it differently according to the needs of the times, because we always adjust to the needs of the times. But I’m confident we’ll be here making an impact.”

Here's to the preeminent community foundation for the Greater Philadelphia region continuing to prosper into the next 100 years. 

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