Success Story #2: Helping a Multi-state Investment from Philadelphia’s Largest Philanthropic Foundation be Consistent and Efficient2017-01-13T06:52:31+00:00

The Challenge: In 2014, The William Penn Foundation announced a $35 million multi-year initiative to protect and restore critical sources of drinking water for 15 million people in the Delaware River Basin Watershed. The Foundation is funding an unprecedented collaboration of leading conservation organizations who will align their work to protect land, restore streams, test innovative approaches in ecologically significant places, and monitor results over time. The organizations include the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Open Space Institute and more than 40 additional national and regional partners.

The initiative identified eight regional “clusters” of sub-watersheds, constituting approximately 25 percent of the total Delaware River Basin across four states. The clusters submitted more than 100 proposed projects in their cluster plans and The William Penn Foundation needed help getting a handle on such a wide range of potential projects to ensure that their investment was being deployed efficiently and effectively.


Eight regional watershed “clusters” in the Delaware River Basin (Source: Delaware River Watershed Initiative)

The Action: The Foundation brought on the Center for Watershed Protection to review the cluster plans as an outside expert. The Center pulled all of the projects into one place and applied consistent language, helping to synthesize the cluster’s opportunities and progress to date.  The final product contained a list of over 350 projects and a summary of milestones and status updates of over 40 organizations within the clusters. Additionally, the Center provided a set of recommendations for streamlining efforts to track progress and developing consistent reporting metrics for each type of project.

“The Center helped us understand how the pieces we were funding fit into the larger scope of work needed to protect the Delaware River watershed,” says Nathan Boon, Program Officer at The William Penn Foundation. “The Center staff shed light on where we needed to improve and adapt as we structured the next tier of work. They helped facilitate a more impactful planning approach — we revised our plans and ended up with a more consistent framework and guidelines.”

The Result: The projects funded by The William Penn Foundation will permanently protect more than 30,000 acres, implement more than 40 restoration projects, pilot new incentives for landowners and businesses, provide replicable models for other locations in the watershed, and develop long-term water quality data for the watershed at an unprecedented scale.