Nine non-profits from across the city each received $40K grants earlier this month as part of the GSK Impact Awards designed to support organizations working to make Philadelphia a healthier place. We've actually dedicated quite a bit of "ink" to two of the award winners, University City District and Community Design Collaborative.
“It's really wonderful because when you're talking about non-profits a lot of times when you're getting funding it's targeted for specific projects,” said Linda Dottor of the Design Collaborative. “This really gives us a flexibility we need.”
The GSK grants are for general operations and will help these groups and others further their missions. The Design Collaborative's submission included as many as five examples of design work they've completed by partnering with local groups to create design concept plans of underused or abandoned properties. Once there are physical plans it's easier to compete for grants. The Design Collab needs funding so it can assist community groups get funding. A vicious cycle! Like at the Lea School at 47th & Locust in West Philly, where a design charrette led to a new, greener playground. Most recently, the Collaborative helped Puentes de Salud, a South Philly organization that that focuses on the health needs for the Latino community, develop a design concept for a new medical center. Soon, Puentes will be moving to a new office at 17th & South.
Meanwhile UCD has been an incredibly visible community force in University City the past few years. From transforming a strip of parking spaces and concrete outside 30th Street Station into The Porch, an outdoor urban space with beer gardens, food trucks and sometimes concerts, with almost year-round planning; to taking underused parts of streets and turning them into corner parks like at Baltimore Crossing, UCD's innovative thinking is in some ways symbolic of the ongoing redefining of University City. In the past five years in University City 9.99M sqft of real estate has been developed, around a $4.5B investment, according to the State of UCD 2014/2015. And of the 27 regional real estate submarkets, University City has the highest office occupancy rate at 96%.
UCD and Community Design Collaborative are two groups stamping their impact on Philadelphia with a thoughtful hand. We're glad to see that they're both getting an injection of new funds, along with several other worthy groups like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Graduate! Philadelphia. Our hats are off to all the winners of the GSK Impact Awards and we look forward to seeing what comes next.