Philadelphia charity gets $747 million grant

    The donation brings the William Penn Foundation holdings to $1.9 billion dollars, putting it among the top 30 charities in the country.

    The Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation today received the largest charitable donation given in America in 2009 – $747 million from one individual.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091230spgift.mp3]

    The money comes from 91-year-old philanthropist John Haas, whose parents created the William Penn Foundation in 1945 with proceeds from the Rohm and Haas company. A statement released by Haas says the money will be used to help “advance” the greater Philadelphia region.

    Feather Houston is president of the William Penn Foundation.

    Houston: It was a little bit of honor and a lot of responsibility. We were very very honored to be entrusted with something like this, but it is a tremendous responsibility and we’re going to be very thoughtful about how we use it.

    The donation brings the foundations’ holdings to $1.9 billion dollars, putting it among the top 30 charities in the country.

    At a time when giving is down, the gift came as a surprise to those in the philanthropic community.

    The William Penn Foundation supports hundreds of nonprofits in the Philadelphia area. WHYY has received grants from the William Penn Foundation.

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