2019 Annual Report


Throughout our 100-year history, we have learned it takes much more than grants to power nonprofits. It takes strong leadership, organizational capacity, network building and board engagement, among other components.


To kick off our next 100 years of service, we launched one of the most ambitious grantmaking initiatives in our century-long history. With the Key to Community Grants initiative, we democratized the grant selection process.


Everyone who has contributed to or benefited from a nonprofit’s services knows that donations and grants play a significant role in powering nonprofits. Yet not many people truly know what goes into granting, and the many different types of organizations that support our region too often go unsung.

We decided to change this during our centennial year celebration. We took the unconventional step to pull back the veils of grantmaking and showcased nonprofits doing amazing things — all through a first-of-its-kind public voting initiative.

Named the Key to Community grants initiative, we invited nonprofits across the seven county region that were already demonstrating real progress in solving real community challenges to apply for nine grants totaling $1 million. Grants were to be awarded across three categories: Economic Prosperity, co-presented by us and Wells Fargo; the Opportunity Divide, co-presented by us and Comcast NBCUniversal; and Civic & Community Engagement, presented by Philadelphia Foundation. Nearly 200 nonprofits applied, and ultimately 15 finalists were selected by a judging panel composed of local and national nonprofit experts. Judging then opened to the public, with a website page serving as our ballot box. 

Over a two-week period in July 2019, community members across our region were invited to vote daily for one nonprofit in each of the three categories. 

The results were astounding. In two weeks, more than 200,000 votes were cast across our region. 100,000 votes were cast just in Philadelphia. In total, voters represented 267 zip codes within our seven-county region. Approximately 25 percent of the votes came from low-income households in the communities we serve, demonstrating the diversity of individuals who participated. Nearly 10 percent of all votes were cast within the last 24 hours, proving that our community remained engaged until the very end.

Ultimately, nine deserving and incredible organizations received large grants, enabling them to enhance projects that resonate with the community. Representatives from all 15 finalists were also invited to participate in our Leadership Institute. But dollars aside, the initiative empowered our entire community with a new voice, rallied them around the idea of philanthropy and introduced them to nonprofits they hadn’t heard of previously. Just as significantly, the nonprofits involved received guidance on outreach tactics that brought them a new cohort of supporters for their work.

“As the proud Executive Director of ECA, I have profound gratitude for Philadelphia Foundation’s generous grant. It’s served as a beacon of hope for the beneficiaries who were provided an opportunity that should have significant life-changing impacts not only for them but their families as well. On behalf of our mission-driven agency, thank you!”

— Steve Luxton,

Executive Director, ECA,

Key to Community grant recipient and

Leadership Institute participant


Throughout our 100-year history, we have learned it takes much more than grants to power nonprofits. It takes strong leadership, organizational capacity, network building, and board engagement, among other components.

That’s why in 2019, in tandem with our Key to Community Grants initiative, we launched the Key to Community Leadership Institute in partnership with Bank of America, Independence Foundation and Eisenhower Fellowships. This program provides world-class leadership development and professional network building opportunities to 40-plus regional leaders representing the 15 finalist nonprofit organizations in the Key to Community Grants initiative. The Leadership Institute offers a multi-dimensional experience to grow leadership capacity and challenges organizations to think differently about their work to solve the most pressing issues of today.

2019 year in review