Catalyst Fund

Grantees

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ExCITe Center
March 2017
$50,000/12 months

As technology evolves, there are myriad potential uses in the arts. For example, drones—with their capability for movement—can push the boundaries of artistic expression and engage audiences interested in the intersection of arts and technology. The problem is that working with drones is expensive and technically challenging. In answer to this opportunity, the ExCITe Center (Center) has developed a system for fabricating and deploying drones through a collaboration with Parsons Dance, which culminated in the creation of The Machines. The Center will take the drone system created for The Machines, which integrates drones into a dance performance, and make it broadly accessible to the artistic community as a low-cost, open source platform. In addition to sharing lessons learned on the Center’s weblog, a two-day workshop will be held for artists and organizations interested in using the drone system for arts projects. It is hoped that other artist-technologist pairings will be inspired by the Center’s work with Parsons Dance. Learn more about the collaboration between the Center and Parsons here.

FINANTA
March 2017
$125,000/18 months

Nearly one in six Americans turn to payday lenders when they need cash for everyday and unexpected expenses. This seemingly quick and easy money comes at a major price to families, who pay exorbitant interest rates and fees. FINANTA, a Community Development Financial Institution located in Kensington, believes that they are uniquely suited to create safe alternatives for their North Philadelphia community. With support from this grant, FINANTA will develop a plan to provide unbanked and underbanked individuals access to a full range of financial services. They will explore models including credit unions and shared branch partnerships, each representing a significant shift to FINANTA’s business model. What they learn along the way will inform the field of practitioners, researchers and policymakers working in this arena—in and beyond Philadelphia. If successful, FINANTA will provide a much-needed solution for Philadelphians, and hopefully slow the tide of families falling victim to predatory lenders.

GreenLight Fund Philadelphia
March 2017
$100,000/18 months

Pay-for-Success (PFS) is an emerging financial tool for funding social services. GreenLight Fund Philadelphia and Social Finance will partner to support the launch of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s first PFS pilots: one focused on reducing adult recidivism with the Center for Employment Opportunities and the other on reducing juvenile recidivism with Youth Advocates Program. GreenLight and Social Finance will not only help ensure the success of CEO and YAP, but will aim to spur new ways of thinking about social service interventions both in and between government, providers, funders and investors in Philadelphia. The grant will support the costs of project development, development of financial structures, investor convenings, contract development and contract negotiation.

Abington Art Center
March 2016
$150,000/39 months

Abington Arts Center has served as a traditional community arts center in Montgomery County for over 75 years.  Building on its recent designation as a Penn State Invent Center and  increasing demand for creative engagement and makerspace-oriented arts programming, they have identified a need for significant adaptation.  The Center will rethink, retool and evolve its space and business model to meet the needs of changing audiences by forging creative partnerships and learning from peer urban organizations who are embracing technology, entrepreneurship and imaginative programming.  If the Center can successfully make this shift, they can become a richer resource for their community and serve as a model for other suburban arts centers as they consider how evolve in a changing arts and education environment.

Autism Village
June 2016
$50,000/12 months

Autism Village, based in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, is a website and mobile application for the autism community. Autism Village’s innovative core is a Yelp-like service that helps families find resources such as dentists, restaurants and playgrounds that are welcoming and suitable for their child with autism’s particular needs. Autism Village has had strong early traction, with more than 10,000 users and a successful Kickstarter campaign backed by more than 1,200 supporters. If they have another year of successful fundraising, Autism Village will put the finishing touches on their platform including several features to attract new users and generate revenue from the business community. Autism Village plans to formally launch in early 2017.

Azuka Theatre
March 2016
$55,000/24 months

In 2015, ARC, Stockton Arts Centre (ARC) in Northeastern England became the first organization to implement a full season of Pay What You Decide (PWYD) performances, where tickets were not sold for the shows, only free reservations were made. Theatre-goers were given the opportunity to decide after the show what they wanted to pay for the experience.  This differs from the popular Pay What You Can model which requires audience members pay as they enter.  Initial results have shown an increase in new and returning audiences—something that is particularly difficult for companies focused on performing experimental work. Following in the footsteps of ARC, Azuka Theatre will launch a two-year PWYD pilot beginning with its 2016-2017 season–the first of its kind in the U.S.  During the pilot, Azuka will gather data on audiences to see if they are able to maintain box office earnings while encouraging attendance by new audiences who might otherwise avoid new productions due to cost or lack of familiarity with offerings.  Lessons learned will be shared with the arts community informing how similar arts organizations might use this model to support their work.

Barnes Foundation
September 2016
$75,000/6 months

Like many museums, the Barnes Foundation (Barnes) struggles with how to find the right mix of content to share with visitors without weighing them down with cumbersome audio devices or long-form content that slows the flow through the galleries. The Barnes will test a new approach for engaging visitors using short-form content and wearable technology intended to encourage visitors to engage more with the art and each other. Data will be designed to tie to the Barnes’ visitor database allowing for greater integration with evolving audience development efforts.  The Barnes will share its learning in order to inspire other museum professionals to rethink how they engage with their guests—both during their visit and afterwards.

Big Picture Philadelphia
June 2016
$200,000/15 months

Big Picture Philadelphia will plan for the K-12 Community School of Sharswood (Sharswood School).  The Sharswood School will adopt and adapt the nationally recognized Big Picture Learning (BPL) model, including BPL’s Learning Through Internship (LTI) approach which places students in internships aligned with growth fields to provide pathways to living wage jobs.   The school will also include grades 13 and 14 through a collaboration with the Community College of Philadelphia, which will allow students to stay at the school while pursuing post-secondary education.  The Sharswood School will be the first K-12 school of The School District of Philadelphia and the first to provide extended learning for an additional two years. This project is part of the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s $500 million investment in the redevelopment of the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood.

Child & Family Connections
December 2016
$130,000/24 months

Custody loss rates for parents with mental illness can be as high as 70-80 percent, even when evidence of neglect has been refuted and the court has acknowledged the parent’s adequacy. Recognizing that family reunification is a slow and costly process, Child and Family Connections (CFC) will take a different approach. CFC wants to reduce emergency removals in the first place by intervening while parents are healthy—before a crisis occurs. CFC will work with a partner organization to finalize the program design, conduct a year-long pilot, complete evaluation and disseminate lessons learned.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
September 2016
$175,000/24 months

Adolescents’ unreliable use of healthcare comes at a time when they are at particularly high risk for health problems such as unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and mental health disease. Unfortunately, adolescents tend to view the doctor’s office as a place to go only when they are sick and not for wellness and preventative healthcare. At the new South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center, CHOP’s Adolescent Initiative will test a new model of adolescent care: Prevention Health Link for Youth (PHLY). PHLY will demonstrate whether an integrated location of library, recreation center and health center, connected by integrated services, can produce significantly better outcomes than a health center alone. This unique space allows the Adolescent Initiative to design and implement a model that can overcome longstanding barriers to adolescent health, increase participation in services and ultimately result in better health.

Drexel University
March 2016
$300,000/26 months

Drexel University (Drexel) will lead the efforts of the Digital On-Ramps (DOR) collaborative network of 13 agencies and employers to test digital badging in Philadelphia.  Like Girl Scout badges (but virtual), digital badges are designed to demonstrate skills and provide opportunities that follow from completing the badge. Digital badging is gaining recognition as an innovation for reimagining education; integrating formal, informal and blended learning; and recognizing industry credentials. In an era when schools are looking to broaden modes of learning and the internet provides an ever-expanding pathway to learning, traditional resumes and transcripts are no longer enough.  Badging is a practical approach to capturing a more complete picture of an individual.  It  has the potential to transform how employers and admissions officers evaluate applicants.  Drexel will work with LRNG, which is creating a digital platform that combines in-school, out-of-school, work-based and online learning opportunities in a manner that is visible and accessible to all. By partnering with LRNG, Drexel becomes part of a national network of communities implementing badging.

First Step
December 2016
$280,000/12 months

First Step was founded in Atlanta, Georgia on the principle that people who want to work to end their homelessness should be connected to work and any necessary supports as soon as possible. From 2007 to 2015, First Step operated similarly to a small staffing agency, except that they prioritized people who had had no home address for 36 months and had been unemployed for 24 months or longer. In that period they helped 2,400 homeless individuals reenter the workforce and secured benefits for more than 1,200 people. Next, First Step took a bold move to get their operations to scale and acquired a for-profit staffing agency and converted it to a nonprofit. Since the acquisition, employment has grown to 1,000 individuals working daily, revenues have increased to over $21 million and First Step is nearly 100 percent self-sustaining. First Step is exploring launching a similar venture in Philadelphia. Barra’s grant will support their hiring of a broker to identify a firm for acquisition and subsequently provide initial seed funding to help attract additional investors.

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
December 2016
$150,000/18 months

Cultural organizations significantly lag behind other parts of the entertainment sector in gathering and using data to understand and market to their audiences. They lack access to sophisticated data and are constrained by limited budgets and capacity to utilize the data that is available. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance will work with Jacobson Consulting Applications to develop the AIDb (Audience Intelligence Database).  This will be a transformational tool for audience engagement as it can aggregate and translate complex real-time data into user-friendly dashboards, enabling arts groups to quickly understand key findings and apply them to their engagement strategies. Funding will provide for a cohort of ten museums to participate in the piloting of AIDb. Based on learnings during the pilot, AIDb will be expanded so that more organizations can participate and benefit from the large scale of data to be collected from participating organizations in Philadelphia and perhaps other cities.

Impact Services Corporation
June 2016
$205,000/24 months

Three nonprofit organizations–Impact Services Corporation, The Common Market and Philabundance–have joined forces to launch a new social enterprise: Community Partnership Kitchen. The project is the first of its kind and leverages the distinct and complementary strengths of the three organizations. Community Partnership Kitchen will provide training and jobs to residents of North Philadelphia, value-added food products to institutional customers and new and expanded business to regional farmers. Barra’s grant will enable Impact to complete the planning phase of the project, including the development of partnership agreements.

LISC
December 2016
$125,000/18 months

Frustrated by continued blight and the many barriers to residential redevelopment in Germantown, real estate developer Ken Weinstein founded Jumpstart Germantown. Jumpstart is a new model of community development that trains, networks and finances local aspiring developers to rebuild their neighborhood and become successful developers themselves. Jumpstart’s success is due largely to the resources—experience, connections and capital—provided by Weinstein as well as suitable market conditions in Germantown. Excited about the model’s impact, community leaders from across the city have asked Weinstein to duplicate the program in their communities. Happy to have sparked imaginations, but also recognizing that each neighborhood has diverse needs and assets, Weinstein partnered with LISC to develop tools to help community leaders adapt and implement Jumpstart programs for themselves.

MANNA
March 2016
$150,000/24 months

Private insurers are increasingly motivated to pay for services that improve health outcomes and ultimately decrease costs.  Through an independent evaluation, MANNA has demonstrated that its medically appropriate meals and nutrition counseling create such cost savings.   Through partnerships with organizations such as Health Partners Plans, a managed care organization, MANNA will be able to receive reimbursement for the cost of their services.  Such partnerships have the potential to transform MANNA’s business model and dramatically increase its impact in the next five years.  Funding will allow MANNA to modernize its in-house data collection systems, enabling them to monitor, improve and communicate the quality of their services to private insurers—a new market of institutional customers and an accompanying stream of revenue.

National Constitution Center
December 2016
$125,000/24 months

Sometimes change may not seem dramatic from the outside but has the potential to shift thinking. Developed in partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department and former Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, the National Constitution Center’s program Policing in a More Perfect Union  (Program) aspires to mend fractured police-community relations with training that educates Philadelphia officer-recruits in the rights and restrictions defined by the Bill of Rights and then unites recruits with students who lead an unusual conversation on police-community relations that benefits both populations. Funding will allow the Center to extend the nascent  Program to law enforcement trainees throughout the Greater Philadelphia region, including in-service officers, and to students from a variety of regional high schools. The Program—the only one of its kind—has the potential to not only impact police officers and youth but also the larger community as these two constituencies build bridges and authentic engagement.

New Day Chester, Inc.
September 2016
$250,000/60 months

Several recent developments have provided an opportunity for mission-aligned investment in Chester, PA.  After many years of decline and then vacancy, entrepreneurs are returning to Avenue of the States. With strong entrepreneurial leadership emerging, the arts are poised to ignite an urban renaissance in Chester. Unlike other artist driven urban revivals, the leaders are from Chester and are dedicated to developing and showcasing local talent for local audiences, nurturing arts enterprises and creating a distinct Chester arts movement. A Program-Related Investment (PRI) in the form of a low-interest loan to New Day Chester, Inc. will provide the funding needed to continue rehabbing three of the six buildings, which will be at the core of the arts district.  Since this would be Barra’s first PRI there is a significant opportunity for Barra to learn, and share its learning, about this emerging tool for foundations and nonprofits.

Pearl S. Buck International
December 2016
$250,000/24 months

Given its role as the guardian of Pearl Buck’s home and message of cultural understanding, compassion and advocacy, Pearl S. Buck International (PSBI) is in a unique position to lead difficult conversations in today’s charged environment that have the potential to spur change.  PSBI will transform their visitor experience, moving from a traditional docent led tour that delivers information about the Bucks County site and Ms. Buck’s life and replace it with a dynamic new tour focused on social justice issues such as race, inequality and inclusion, which will be complemented by exhibitions, programming and printed materials. To highlight the creative adaptation of their model, PSBI will rebrand to reflect their new focus on the ideas championed by Ms. Buck, which are her true legacy. PSBI will share their process so as to inspire other historic sites with their willingness to reinvent  their approach to the past in order to amplify its impact into the future.

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
March 2016
$75,000/18 months

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (Law Center) has an illustrious history of ensuring vulnerable populations have access to fundamental resources, particularly special education.  Like many legal services agencies, the Law Center possesses deep knowledge in a specialized area of the law that is of interest to varied constituencies (parents, educators, lawyers, social workers, etc.).  However, they do not have the resources to create a training delivery model that is self-sustaining.  To do so requires understanding marketing, event planning and curriculum development—all areas that are outside the mission of a legal services organization.  Further, the training they conduct is not like traditional legal training geared towards attorneys—it is meant to bring the range of constituencies together to build networks and understanding, making it different from other legal education providers.  The Law Center proposes creating a separate entity to further their mission of delivering specialized information to the widest audience possible.  To do this, the Center hopes to further its mission while creating a stronger business model.  As a social enterprise of this type is a new approach for a legal service agency, but one that others could emulate, the research into the viability of this model can serve to inform this sector.

Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
June 2016
$175,000/36 months

Nature Rx will prescribe outdoor recreation to thousands of Philadelphia patient families, reconnecting them to the outdoors through doctors’ “prescriptions.” This online portal for clinicians will be connected to a comprehensive database of the city’s green spaces, the first of its kind in Philadelphia. The partners, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia, will develop a new tool to connect families to Philadelphia’s wealth of green space, maximize scarce clinical time with patients and help ensure patient adherence with support from “Nature Navigators.” Nature Rx will also help ensure that the city’s most underserved communities—those with the most to gain in health outcomes—will share in Philadelphia’s rejuvenated public spaces. Barra funding will allow the Schuylkill Center and its partners to pilot Nature Rx in three communities.

Swim Pony Performing Arts
June 2016
$55,000/12 months

Swim Pony will explore the intersection of art and gaming through participatory theatre. The End will use the structures of alternate reality games and simulations to build an individualized theatrical experience for each audience member.  Participants will be engaged in a conversation about death through daily activities structured to engender reflection.  The End has the potential to develop the emerging discipline of gaming/theater hybridization—an area that is gaining interest from those in the arts, gaming, technology and civic engagement.  As people become more engaged with and through technology, the concept of using technology and related concepts to help them become a part of a narrative, create an opportunity for self-discovery, and share an experience in a new way, is an innovative way to link performance and gaming.  Funding will also support the documentation and dissemination of the model so it may be used by others.

TechniCulture
March 2016
$50,000/12 months

Although the cultural community is eager to innovate, the biggest obstacle to breaking into the digital arena is not just funding—for many, it is not knowing where to even begin.  In April 2015 the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (Alliance) announced their TechniCulture initiative. Through TechniCulture, the Alliance seeks to: deepen relationships between the cultural and tech communities; encourage and inspire cultural organizations to think more innovatively and entrepreneurially; and celebrate the region’s bourgeoning tech resources.  To further this effort, the Alliance created the TechniCulture Innovation Residency Awards (Awards).  The recipients of the Awards–which were available to organizations with budgets of under $1 million–were Christ Church, Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Tiny Dynamite. Foundation funding will (i) enable the Awardees to move their projects from feasibility to planning for implementation and (ii) support the Alliance’s learning and dissemination process related to bridging arts and technology.

Temple Contemporary
March 2016
$180,000/26 months

Through “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra,” Temple Contemporary seeks to answer the question “How can we get more music back into the schools?” in a creative, sustainable way. In support of and in  partnership with The School District of Philadelphia (District), this project will teach music teachers in the District how to repair some of the District’s 1,500 broken musical instruments, returning them to the classroom and the hands of children.  How-to videos will be created and music repair kits will be provided to all District schools with music programs.  Opportunities will also be provided for the public to learn more about the District’s music programs and instrument repair.  The program has the potential to spark a chain reaction in other cities facing financial challenges in providing music education by creating a low-cost, replicable, school-centered and sustainable model.

The Zoological Society of Philadelphia
December 2016
$125,000/12 months

The Zoological Society of Philadelphia (Zoo) is challenging itself to lead the evolution of zoos from “safari-like” zoo experiences on large tracts of land remote from cities to urban assets that enhance the quality of life in more densely populated areas. By embracing its surrounding neighborhoods and working with them through community engagement, the Zoo will spearhead projects that will strategically leverage the Zoo’s assets and location for the direct benefit of its community. This strategy has been practiced by other anchor institutions, such as meds and eds, but this type of community engagement is new for zoos. Given its national leadership role, the Zoo has an opportunity to help other zoos see how they can creatively adapt their roles—and still stay true to their missions.

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture
September 2015
$60,000/24 months

Northeast Philadelphia is a rapidly changing community and its neighborhood high school, Northeast High School (NEHS), is a unique microcosm of the growing diversity. NEHS is the largest public school in Philadelphia and one of the most diverse high schools in the nation, serving over 3,000 students, with 56 languages spoken and 750 English as a second language students. Currently, there are few opportunities for channeling this level of diversity in positive ways. Al-Bustan will engage NEHS students, parents, faculty and staff in a multi-faceted arts program that will use deep exploration of cultural identity and connectedness to further important conversations about diversity at NEHS and in other schools and neighborhoods. This work has the potential to promote understanding of and have a deep impact on communities that are often overlooked and, therefore, misunderstood.

Center for Architecture
December 2015
$175,000/24 months

Healthy Rowhouse Project, a collaborative hosted by the Center for Architecture, aims to tackle the barriers preventing Philadelphia from repairing rowhouses at scale in order to improve the health of residents and preserve critical affordable housing. They aim to improve 5,000 houses per year—thousands more homes than any other U.S. city has been able to repair—at an average cost of $10,000 per home. Building from their preliminary research and with the support of their multi-disciplinary coalition, in the next two years Healthy Rowhouse Project will develop a new home repair infrastructure, including an organized network of service delivery partners, new program designs and creative financing for property owners and investors.

DataArts
September 2015
$120,000/12 months

Cultural organizations regularly collect data around their work, however, due to an ongoing capacity gap in terms of knowledge, skills and resources, they often do not effectively use this information to tell their story and analyze their work. DataArts will integrate an online, on-demand educational curriculum designed to build arts professionals’ data fluency into its well-established and widely-used data gathering platform.  By providing this information and training across the cultural sector, the curriculum has the potential to significantly influence and improve how arts professionals do their work.

Inglis
June 2015
$96,200/12 months

Inglis’s clients are individuals with significant physical disabilities and healthcare needs and who require highly personalized, coordinated services. Inglis has designed a new service delivery model called LIFE that enables clients to live more independently in a community setting, rather than in an institutional environment.  By individualizing care and providing supported housing, LIFE unpacks the services offered by nursing home care and provides them to individuals living in the community, A newly-constructed apartment complex will provide opportunities for people to move from nursing home settings back to the community in fully accessible, technology enhanced affordable apartments.. The LIFE center will be in the new complex and will offer enhance medical services, adapted computing, education and other opportunities for community engagement.  Inglis LIFE anticipates saving Medicaid and Medicare millions of dollars annually by serving 300 people.  To implement the LIFE program and support the transition of residents from Inglis and other nursing homes into a newly constructed community facility, Inglis requires $20 million of capital.  Inglis will employ Pay for Success (PFS) financing, an emerging social finance tool, to reach their capital requirements. The grant will support Inglis’ efforts to hire experienced consultants to oversee the last 12 months of the PFS initiative’s implementation, including deal structuring and evaluation.

Jounce Partners
June 2015
$190,000/36 months

Based on evidence that demonstrates teacher effectiveness is the most important factor in student success, Jounce Partners seeks to improve student learning through a new model of professional skills development for educators that provides targeted support and an easy to follow structure. Jounce Partners will further develop its unique school leader and teacher coaching model that employs extremely high-frequency feedback, high-repetition practice of key teaching skills, and very specific criteria for execution of those skills.

Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA
December 2015
$50,000/6 months

Led by its Founder Andrew Siegel and Managing Partner Dan Treglia, StreetChange has taken major strides since it received its first funding, from Barra, in December 2015. In addition to completing the app’s development and launching their website, StreetChange has conducted a beta test with support from Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA, which informed improvements to the app and helped them strengthen proposals to funders, investors and partners. They have engaged critical stakeholders including the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services and Center City District and have begun meetings with other homeless services providers to understand how the platform could provide greater value to this group. They have also received strong media coverage, including several local publications and a video produced by Verizon and Upworthy that has been viewed more than 3.5 million times. Other cities have contacted StreetChange to expand to their communities. StreetChange is in the process of developing a business plan, including formalizing partnerships with providers. StreetChange is seeking funders and investors so that it can build its team and launch the app this summer.

Mural Arts Advocates
March 2015
$100,000/12 months

Open Source, a project of Mural Arts Advocates, will consider Philadelphia’s diverse urban identity through the works of 14 artists from around the world.  These artists will work within the community to broaden the conversation around topics including mass incarceration, education, youth development and economic challenges.  The project will culminate in a series of talks, tours, visual documentation and direct engagement with the artists in October 2015.  These forums will provide an opportunity for Open Source to spur dialogue and catalyze social change.

The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education
June 2015
$150,000/9 months

Philadelphia has a rich cultural sector that provides informal educational opportunities for youth.  These are often disconnected from the needs of the city’s schools.  The Greater Philadelphia STEAM Initiative will explore how to bring together the cultural and education sectors to facilitate a more robust and academically purposeful relationship between the two sectors to create an integrated STEAM curriculum. A planning process that engages key stakeholders from each sector will aim to determine how to leverage the valuable programs of the cultural community to better support schools.  If planning efforts are successful, subsequent phases of the Initiative will include creating a full curriculum and piloting it in three high schools.

The Clay Studio
March 2015
$175,000/36 months

Through HandCrafted, The Clay Studio will use collaborative, low-commitment, social experiences to acquaint new audiences with their work and highlight how ceramic art is part of day-to-day life.  This creative approach to audience engagement provides an accessible entry point for new visitors to learn more about a typically niche art form and is a gateway to expanded opportunities like workshops and collecting.  HandCrafted will be replicable by organizations looking to creatively link art and experiences.

The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia
December 2015
$300,000/24 months

While the number of K-12 schools adopting innovative approaches to education continue to expand, training for teachers in these methodologies has not kept up.  In collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and Drexel University School of Education, The School District of Philadelphia will design and pilot a program for training pre-service teachers which aligns with the varied modes of learning now being offered in schools.  The program will leverage Penn and Drexel’s deep expertise while supporting the District’s development of creative new approaches to education.  The project has the potential to inform how other schools of education partner with school districts.

Tiny WPA
December 2015
$185,000/36 months

Tiny WPA’s Building Hero Project provides design, leadership and entrepreneurship skills to individuals ages 16 and up who want to be part of a diverse community of civic change agents.  The Project harnesses the enthusiasm of those interested in the maker movement by providing deeper learning and connections to a trade.  The Project centers on an 8-week training program where participants acquire the design and fabrication skills needed to create products and the know-how to undertake neighborhood revitalization and design-build improvement projects for the community.  Using lessons learned from national models, Tiny WPA will build the Project into a sustainable social enterprise that provides fabrication services by Building Heroes to the design and manufacturing sector.

Widener University
September 2015
$210,000/15 months

The City of Chester is one of the most economically distressed municipalities in the region.  In recent years, key arts, business, city government and non-profit organizations have been collaborating to revitalize and heal the city. That work coalesced as “Chester Made,” a participatory urban planning process. Widener proposes the Boundaries and Bridges project, which will utilize civic arts methodologies to build on the momentum generated by Chester Made to identify and bridge community-university boundaries to strengthen and support collaboration in Chester. This approach to civic engagement can serve as a new model for other schools looking to positively engage with their partner communities.

Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project
March 2015
$125,000/24 months

Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, led by two Echoing Green fellows, will achieve shorter and fairer sentences for youth facing adult criminal charges through their innovative sentencing advocacy intervention. Their long-term goal is to use their experience and evidence to inform efforts to change how the city and state’s adult criminal justice systems treat children, by humanizing the sentencing process for youth.

Bethesda Project
December 2014
$75,000/12 months

Bethesda Project is developing a new model of care for chronically homeless individuals, Bethesda Beacon. Their goal is to make available within one building a seamless process for people to transition from living on the streets, to engaging in social services, to receiving and recovering from medical care, to living in permanent housing. The “step-up” model includes a welcoming café, medical respite care for 30 people and 50 units of permanent housing—all under one roof. The Barra grant will support Bethesda Project’s first phase of planning, which includes examination of the design’s feasibility and financial sustainability.

Building 21
March 2014
$100,000/6 months

Funding supported the planning and fall 2014 implementation of Building 21. Building 21 is an innovative new school model that seeks to engage and motivate students in a way that is consistent with the expectations of our technology-focused society, and endow students with critical skills and academic content in a rigorous fashion. Read more about Building 21 on our Get Inspired page.

Update: Building 21 opened in September 2014 with its first class of 150 ninth graders.  The school will add a grade each year.  Students are benefiting from Building 21’s initial anchor partnerships with the Vetri Foundation and Temple University and one-to-one access to Chrome Books.  In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of New School Models, Building 21 has developed supporting materials for their competency based model which personalizes learning for students through the use of adaptive technology, project-based and applied learning experiences.

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
June 2014
$150,000/18 months

The Cultural Alliance will develop Phillyfunpass, a free, patron loyalty card for visitors to participating cultural venues.  Data gathered from Phillyfunpass will allow the Cultural Alliance to see patterns of cultural participation across the sector and at individual organizations to gain a better understanding of consumer habits. The Cultural Alliance will share data to foster innovative audience outreach strategies that are based on knowledge rather than assumptions.

Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia
December 2014
$150,000/24 months

Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells new and gently used donated building supplies and home goods to the public. 850 ReStores across the U.S. generated $89 million in net profits in 2013, covering the costs of 898 Habitat homes. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia’s ReStore offers a unique and significant opportunity for the organization to increase revenue and, in turn, build and repair more homes for Philadelphians living in poverty. Despite a strong business model and success in other cities, the local ReStore has struggled financially.  Determined to diagnose the problem and turn the fledging business around, Habitat enlisted professional counsel on retail management and real estate and determined that the store’s location was dramatically hindering its potential. The Barra grant will allow Habitat to relocate their enterprise to a competitive new location, deliver improved marketing, and secure the financial strategy services of Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Kiva.org
September 2014
$150,000/24 months

Kiva leverages technology and the Internet to allow individuals to lend as little as $5 online to help entrepreneurs across the globe build their businesses. Barra’s grant helped bring this innovation to Philadelphia—enabling low-income entrepreneurs and microenterprises to access Kiva’s network of 1.3 million global lenders. Funding supported costs associated with Kiva’s launch and first two years of operations. By Year 3, Kiva Zip Philadelphia aims to support 300 borrowers through approximately $1.5 million in 0% interest loans. Read more about Barra’s grant to support Kiva Zip Philadelphia here.

Monell Chemical Senses Center
June 2014
$90,000/12 months

How do you get kids to eat healthy food? Tackling that age-old quandary will require the right set of partners. Smell and taste behavioral scientists of Monell teamed up with The Vetri Foundation to test whether combining accepted science and delicious cuisine can catalyze healthier eating in America’s public schools.

Pathways to Housing PA
December 2014
$150,000/24 months

There is currently no system in place to help staff of charitable organizations provide furniture to homeless clients who are moving into new homes. Searching for and delivering low-cost or free furniture creates a bottleneck in housing placements and prolongs the time that people live in an emergency shelter or temporary housing. For hundreds of nonprofit organizations, this approach costs precious staff time and scarce resources. To solve this problem, Pathways to Housing PA and its partners will launch a large-scale, tech-savvy system to redistribute cast-off furnishings at no cost to families and individuals in need: Philadelphia Furniture Bank.

Philadelphia Young Playwrights
December 2014
$75,000/16 months

Philadelphia Young Playwrights will undertake the 1219 Vine Project to activate new levels of partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative and Mural Arts Program to create a model for deep and lasting collaborative work.  The project harnesses the momentum of transformation in the Chinatown North neighborhood and will culminate in one or more community-centered events and/or artistic works.  By integrating their resources and skills for the purposes of the project, a model for collaborative practice may be established that can be adopted and adapted by other organizations nationwide and inspire innovative thinking around other creative placemaking efforts.

Project Based Learning, Inc. in support of The Workshop School
June 2014
$181,000/36 months

A national model for project-based learning, the Workshop School will establish Workshop Industries, a school-based business incubator that will allow students to go to the next step in idea development—actually creating and executing business and marketing plans and delivering products. Through a ten-week entrepreneur course and ongoing work at the incubator, students will be exposed to engineering, science, math, marketing, product design, finance, sales and supply chain management.

Temple University, Center for Public History
June 2014
$85,000/12 months

Started in 2013 as an experiment in engaging neighborhoods in documenting their public history, the Philadelphia Public History Truck is a neighborhood-minded mobile museum that records neighborhood stories and makes them accessible by turning them into an art exhibit. The Center for Public History investigated creating a formal graduate level program based on the History Truck concept in support of the Center’s mission to raise awareness of Philadelphia’s recent past and train historians for work beyond academia.

Update: During the grant period Philadelphia Public History Truck engaged with 16 community organizations and served over 2,000 real and virtual users.  Participants in North Philadelphia programs considered issues such as race, power, violence and economic disparity during block parties and other events.  This work culminated in the exhibition They Say They Gonna Build.  History Truck received extensive coverage including 20 print exclusives and three radio features.  While the Center continues to develop its plans for how History Truck will fit into its curriculum, other schools around the country are beginning to adopt the model.

In February 2016, The Philadelphia Public History Truck, the project’s founder Erin Bernard and Temple University Center for Public History were awarded the 2016 Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History.

The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia
December 2014
$80,000/6 months

PhillyGoes2College, a project of The Mayor’s Office of Education, launched Connect2College (C2C), an initiative featuring a web-based app and text messaging tool that provide users with college access information.  The online and mobile tools supplement and enhance C2C’s work with community-based organizations to provide on-site college planning information.  This new approach utilizes scarce resources more efficiently to provide citywide access to information and to foster a college-going culture.

Update:  Through C2C, The Mayor’s Office of Education has strengthened 24 organization’s capacity to offer college access resources and services.  Awareness of C2C has grown and more residents are accessing C2C through the website, the texting platform, at partner sites and through one-on-one appointments with C2C staff. From the launch in January 2015 through October 2015, the website had 6,962 users, the texting platform had 428 subscribers, the Facebook page had 1982 likes and there were 242 new Twitter followers demonstrating the reach of C2C’s message.

Art-Reach
December 2013
$60,000/18 months

Art-Reach developed and tested a new program to increase cultural access among low-income individuals by offering low cost admission opportunities at participating museums to ACCESS cardholders. The program was implemented through a diverse group of cultural organizations, providing access to venues in a range of locations, appealing to a diversity of tastes, and appropriate for various ages.

Update:  During its pilot year, Art-Reach surpassed their goal of partnering with 10 local museums and bringing 2,500 ACCESS card holders through their doors.  Instead, 20 local museums became partners in the program and welcomed nearly 26,000 ACCESS cardholding visitors.  These 20 venues continued their participation in year two and an additional 10 sites were added. Interviews with participants indicate that the program is having its desired impact by providing an opportunity for people to visit who would not otherwise be able to do so.

College Possible
June 2013
$150,000/12 months

This grant supported College Possible’ s launch in Philadelphia. College Possible helps low-income youth prepare for and earn college admission, stay in college and graduate ready for the workforce. Their unique, low-cost model uses AmeriCorps coaches to deliver services, allowing them to reach a significant number of students each year and follow them from high school through college.

Update: College Possible Philadelphia will start its first full school year in fall 2014 with partnerships at four area high schools: Upper Darby High School, George Washington High School, Parkway Center City High School and West Philadelphia High School.  Seventy-five students at each school will make up College Possible Philadelphia’s first cohort.

Common Market
December 2012
$50,000/12 months

Common Market is a nonprofit food distribution company that connects otherwise disparate regional farmers to Philadelphia’s institutional customers, such as universities. Hoping to jumpstart the farm-to-healthcare movement in Greater Philadelphia, Common Market developed hospital-specific programs to shift purchasing patterns to healthier, locally-produced foods. The grant supported a consultant with a background in healthcare food services to design and deliver this new line of business.

Update: With their new system in place, Common Market was able to double the number of hospitals that are buying regionally-grown food. At the end of their grant, sixteen hospitals from across the region were purchasing, serving and selling (at their own farm stands) fresh, local food.

Congreso de Latinos Unidos
December 2013
$110,000/18 months

Building upon cultural strengths of the Latino community, Congreso tested whether their health and fitness program has better outcomes when classes include the whole family and/or mobile technology and social media. Temple University’s Department of Public Health and the Center on Obesity Research and Education evaluated the interventions. Read more about Congreso’s project here.

Update: Congreso completed their ambitious pilot and shared several challenges and course-corrections they faced along the way. Congreso contacted hundreds of potential participants, but found the number of eligible participants were far below what they had anticipated. In addition to increasing their capacity for outreach, they found that the multiple components of the program design also required greater staff capacity than originally anticipated. The evaluation, provided by Temple University, was one of the most valuable aspects of the program, but it too presented challenges as the evaluation’s effective design required adaptations to the program design. Congreso incorporated many of the lessons-learned from this model into its other organizational programs and continues to seek funding to make Healthy Movimientos the norm in health and fitness programming.

GreenLight Fund
June 2011
$160,000/12 months

The Barra grant helped launch GreenLight Fund, which is based in Boston, in Philadelphia. GreenLight identifies its community’s most persistent social problems and then finds the best national solutions to help solve that problem locally. With the support of community partners, GreenLight then makes strategic investments to speed that solution’s expansion.

Update: GreenLight began its work in Philadelphia by building a 30-member Selection Advisory Council which helps GreenLight identify social problems that are persistent and underinvested in locally. Work had just begun when GreenLight learned it had been selected to receive a $2 million Social Impact Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, allowing GreenLight to significantly increase its investments. After a national RFP process and months of due diligence, in 2013 GreenLight selected two models to expand to Philadelphia: Year Up and Single Stop USA.

Opera Philadelphia
December 2013
$75,000/8 months

Funding supported Opera Philadelphia’s research on consumer motivation and values. They looked at visitor behavior across all types of entertainment, not just attendance at Opera Philadelphia. Opera Philadelphia investigated how the subscription model and other sources of earned income have changed over time in order to learn from and adapt to changing consumer behavior. Read more about Opera Philadelphia’s project here.

Update: Opera Philadelphia completed the consumer research which is allowing it to consider how it might redefine the ways in which it relates to the public.  By analyzing the nuanced understanding of the motivations and values of its current and potential consumers obtained during this process, Opera Philadelphia intends to optimize the patron experience through new approaches to delivering world-class opera.  As these strategies are determined, Opera Philadelphia will share changes to their work with the community.

Partners for Sacred Places
September 2012
$125,000/12 months

Partners for Sacred Places created the Philadelphia Theatrical Design Center. The Center is the first of its kind: a low-cost, co-working space for costume, set, lighting and sound designers who often do not have formal workspaces or opportunities to easily work with others. The Center will has the necessary space and equipment for both individual designers and theater organizations.

Update:  After a false start when the original location for the Design Center fell through, Partners regrouped, found an alternative space and continued conversations with the design community to determine the best uses for the Center.  The Center will launch in the spring of 2016 in Greys Ferry.  Costume, set, lighting and sound designers will be able to utilize the Center’s resources, which include shared office facilities, a costume construction shop and computers with Vectorworks drafting software.

People’s Light & Theatre Company
June 2013
$120,000/24 months

People’s Light introduced a new program, New Play Frontiers, which brings writers into communities for a series of residencies involving a process that directly engages community partners and their constituents from a scripts’ conception to production.  This supports People’s Light’s focus on strengthening ties with surrounding communities and building greater engagement with theater.  For more about People’s Light process, read Producing Director Zak Berkman’s blog here.

Update: New Play Frontiers has been successful with regard to play-making, community engagement and organizational change.  Six new plays have been conceived through engagement with surrounding communities.  In the fall of 2015, public readings of two new works took place.  These included a play by Elisa Davis informed by interactions with Kennett Square residents, employees of La Communidad Hispana and the audience at the Garage Youth Center.  Karen Hartman drew inspiration for her play from Dawn’s Place and Project Dawn Court.  Winter 2015 will bring Dominque Morisseau’s piece, conceived through conversations with the Melton Center and members of the West Chester community. To support this community based work, People’s Light created an internal cross-department committee.  They also hired their first Director of Community Investment.

Single Stop USA
June 2013
$100,000/12 months

Combining proprietary software and deep local partnerships, Single Stop will help students at Community College of Philadelphia identify all available financial resources to help them stay in school. Identified by GreenLight Fund as a valuable innovation for the region, the Barra grant will help launch Single Stop at the college. The college will pay to continue the model through revenue saved in tuition dollars.

Update: As of October 2014, Single Stop and their partners had screened 1,424 students for government benefits and connected them to $2,483,733 in supports, tax refunds and services. Single Stop’s impact on students’ educational success is also a critical indicator of whether their model will contribute to long-term financial self-sufficiency and they have begun to measure educational advancement using semester-to-semester persistence and credit completion data. Single Stop’s collaborative and mutually-beneficial partnership with Community College of Philadelphia has become a best practice in Single Stop’s national growth strategy. Local organizations, including the Campaign for Working Families, Community Legal Services and the Health Federation of Philadelphia, have also played an important role in the modernized system’s success.

Spark Philadelphia
December 2012
$100,000/12 months

Funding supported the launch of Spark in Philadelphia. Spark’s unique workplace-based mentorship experiences provide seventh and eighth grade students with a positive adult role model and the exposure to workplaces that they need to understand why school is important early in their education. 

Update: During its spring 2013 pilot, Spark reached 67 students in three schools. In fall 2013 they expanded to six schools and enrolled 110 students. Data from the spring 2013 pilot showed that participating students: gained key skills such as goal setting, networking and public speaking; increased their attendance; and, improved their grades during the program.

Springboard Collaborative
December 2013
$100,000/24 months

Springboard plans to further test and develop its highly successful, low-cost literacy model which transforms the summer break from a time of learning loss to a time of gain by making parental engagement a core element. Springboard trains schools’ existing teachers to work with parents to teach children literacy skills. This approach builds lasting results by developing teachers’ instructional skills and engaging parents in their child’s learning.

Update:  Since launching in 2011, Springboard has expanded to Oakland, CA and grown its reach from 42 to 1,970 students. During the summer of 2015, Springboard participants replaced what could have been a 3-month reading loss with a 3.3-month reading gain. In addition to its summer reading program that engages parents in training workshops to become effective literacy coaches, Springboard has added Springboard Schoolyear, which trains teachers to effectively target instruction and coach families in order to accelerate struggling readers’ progress during the academic year.  During Summer 2016, [email protected] will be piloted. This program will provide families with customized libraries and literacy training to maintain and develop their children’s reading skills over the summer. This lighter-touch intervention aims to prevent summer regression for students already reading at grade-level.

Temple Contemporary, Tyler School of Art
December 2012
$60,000/12 months

Temple Contemporary, along with its partners the Conservation Center of Art and Historic Artifacts and WHYY, designed the “Restoring Ideals” project to address Philadelphia’s evolving relationship to its founding ideals of tolerance, equality and independence. Their creative and multifaceted approach involved ten organizations chosen from 25 through a public, online poll hosted on WHYY’s website. Each of the ten picked an object from their archives emblematic of these historic ideals to be conserved by professionals at Temple Contemporary. Through this public process conservation was presented as an important way of preserving current work to serve as an example of our shared values both today and in the future.

Update: Over 16,000 people voted for the initial videos on WHYY, giving a tremendous boost to the awareness of the 25 organization. Over 9,000 people visited the exhibition at Temple Contemporary providing further exposure to the themes underlying “Restoring Ideals.”

University City District
June 2013
$82,000/12 months

University City District (UCD) aims to leverage the prosperity of West Philadelphia’s academic and medical sectors to support West Philadelphians living in poverty. The grant supports the first Industry Partnership training model run by a Business Improvement District (BID). BIDs like UCD work to improve the economic vitality of their geographic area and are led by that area’s businesses. In the Industry Partnership model employers participate in the design of training curricula which ensures that participants are trained in appropriate skills and competencies. The BID model allowed UCD to build their Industry Partnership on longstanding, high-value relationships to employers.

Update: UCD’s primary objective was to design and offer employer-driven training to West Philadelphia residents in four industries with available job opportunities. A total of 129 people were served and 84 participants are now employed as a result of the program. While they did not meet their goal for number of people served (129 vs. 145), the program is now stronger than ever due to a complete overhaul of one of their four industry offerings. This revision was made in response to a mismatch between employer needs and student availability. While arduous to maneuver, that effort highlighted a centerpiece of UCD’s partnership model: their ability to respond rapidly to customers—employers and students alike. From UCD’s grant report: “We feel strongly that real innovation is a product of how many swings you take, not how many misses. The Skills Initiative continually seeks to refine its model, seeking new projects, new jobs, new employers and better outcomes. This means taking some risks, which are always necessary in order to grow.”

University City Science Center
June 2013
$110,000/18 months

Under the title Breadboard, the Science Center creates project-based STEAM programs. Funding supported the launch of the Department of Making + Doing, a collaborative effort of Breadboard, NextFab, The Hacktory and Public Workshop. Bringing together expertise in design, fabrication, electronics and art, DM+D encourages learning through doing, providing hands-on experiences for the public, with an emphasis on engaging youth in the intersection of arts and technology in new and creative ways.

Update: During the grant period, DM+D hosted weekly programs including: Drop In + Do, a program for teens and adults, novices and experts to collaborate and explore new ideas and technologies; Civic Sensors, where programmers and hardware enthusiasts design and build sensors and data analysis tools; and Kid’s Club, an after school program for 3rd to 5th grade students to make a project.  They also created a mobile maker cart that was used to conduct activities at local block parties, the Food Trust’s Night Market Festival and Philadelphia Parking Day. DM+D has hosted 314 workshops and events, delivered nearly 1,000 hours of maker education and community programming and engaged more than 3,500 program participants. DM+D programming drew a blend of youth and adults from across the City of Philadelphia, with 40% living within walking distance of DM+D and the Science Center’s West Philadelphia campus.

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