A coed Friends school, pre-K to 12, on 47 acres in East Falls, Philadelphia


Riding a Wave of Momentum

Riding a Wave of Momentum

The extraordinary How Far? campaign has set a new goal of $125 million to complete the facilities projects central to the transformation of Penn Charter’s campus—a new lower school and the Graham Athletics & Wellness Center.

Beam by steel beam, the structure of the Graham Athletics & Wellness Center is rising. The floor of two new basketball courts—900 tons of cement—was poured in November, and the placement of the last, highest steel beam will be celebrated in December. Remarkably in these most challenging of times, the construction progress is steady, dependable and promising.

The Graham Center is on schedule to open at the end of the summer, in time for the new school year and eight years after the unveiling of a Strategic Vision for the future of William Penn Charter School.

“Penn Charter is riding a wave of momentum,” said Head of School Darryl J. Ford, “and we are not done yet.”

In a virtual meeting this fall with donors to the How Far? campaign, the fundraising effort to support the Strategic Vision and the campus transformation that evolved from it, Ford announced that How Far? has surpassed its initial target: On a goal of $75 million, the campaign has now raised $91 million, an impressive 121.3 percent of the original target.

And he announced a new goal: to raise another $34 million in the next two years and reach a How Far? total of $125 million. “One-hundred and twenty-five million is a lot.” Ford acknowledged. “Yet, who knew how far we could see when we started this campaign? We saw far, far past our initial goals.”

How Far? gifts have supported reimagining our curriculum and innovations that include a Teaching & Learning Center for faculty professional development; IdeaLabs with 3D printers and laser cutters, and coding for kindergarteners; and so much more.

NEXT UP: The New Lower School

The How Far? campaign has outperformed fundraising goals for financial aid, faculty salaries and professional development, and annual giving. The new $125 million goal reflects the need to raise more capital dollars for construction, for both the Graham Center and the new lower school project.

The new lower school was always envisioned as the largest capital project of the How Far? campaign but, as the campus master plan evolved, school leaders embraced a plan to realign the academic and athletics programs on the two sides of campus. They approved a plan that included not one but two major construction projects:

The Athletics & Wellness Center on the site of the old baseball field creates an athletics corridor on the eastern side of campus, from the scoreboard on Maguire Field all the way across to the Strawbridge Campus and Somers Field.

And, on the other side, on the site of Dooney Field House, a new lower school will unite all three divisions in a vibrant Academic Village.

EwingCole, the architecture and engineering firm that designed the new baseball facility and the Graham Athletics & Wellness Center, is working on detailed architectural plans for the new lower school. This rendering dates from 2017.

Board clerk Jeffrey Reinhold and other school leaders embraced the foresight of the plan. “This campus transformation positions Penn Charter to achieve its Strategic Vision and remain in the city, in East Falls, for another 50 years and beyond.” Building not one but two new state-of-the-art facilities changed the campaign math. “The school is uniquely positioned to move forward with a goal of $125 million,” Ford said.

“We significantly surpassed our goal of $75 million, and the generosity of our donors gives us confidence. Because of that generosity we can see much further than any of us anticipated when we began. Together, over the next two years, we will fulfill our Strategic Vision and end our campus transformation with a groundbreaking for a new lower school.” 

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