Philadelphia Foundation wants you to pick how to spend $1 million

For its 100th birthday, the foundation wants the public to better understand the nonprofit sector’s impact. So it’s asking folks to take part in the process.

Listen 1:32
The view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Foundation is trying to spend $1 million and is looking for your help.

The philanthropic organization has created an online voting platform for the public to determine which of 15 pre-selected, nonprofit organizations should be granted a portion of the money. 

“Part of the reason we’re doing this is to demystify the work of nonprofits,” said Philadelphia Foundation president and CEO Pedro Ramos. “To make more visible the work that nonprofits are doing all around us and hopefully [we] don’t take for granted, but often do.” 

This year, Philadelphia Foundation is turning 100 years old. Every year, it distributes about $25 million in charitable giving. Most of that is from a portfolio of privately owned funds that the foundation manages; about $5 million is granted through its own discretionary budget.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

For its centenary, the foundation reserved $1 million of its discretionary funds so the public could pick the winners. Online voters at can select from initiatives in three categories — economic prosperity, opportunity divide, and community engagement. Projects include promoting community-based property ownership, preparing girls for technology careers, and prison inmates training dogs. 

“Some of the organizations … were familiar, and others — probably most of the projects we had not heard about,” said Ramos. “It was an opportunity to bring those projects to our attention, and more importantly bring the projects and proposals to the attention of the public.”

The 15 finalists for the vote were vetted by a juried process. The public vote will be the final determination for nine grants of $33,000, $100,000, and $200,000.

Voting ends July 26. People can vote multiple times, but only once a day.

This disclosure, the Philadelphia Foundation supports WHYY.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal