Why Not Prosper CEO Michelle Simmons, third from left, in 2019, holds a banner advertising her community health fair with employees, volunteers and residents. (Michaela Winberg/Billy Penn)

Thirteen Philly organizations focused on health equity are receiving grants between $14.1k and $25k apiece from the newly-rebranded Philadelphia City Fund, which uses private sector philanthropy to support programs beyond the municipal budget. 

This round of funding comes courtesy of the Philadelphia Marathon, which allocated $250,000 for the purpose.

Already a big issue in Philly, health care disparities were exacerbated by the pandemic, said grant recipient Michelle Anne Simmons, CEO and founder of Why Not Prosper.

Her Germantown-based organization will use the windfall to continue its work providing resources for currently and formerly incarcerated women. During the pandemic, per Simmons, Why Not Prosper’s clients often faced difficulties getting mental health treatment. 

“They got to get on this list of lists [and] the waiting list might be six weeks,” Simmons told Billy Penn. “COVID kind of exacerbated people [not] being able to see the doctor, being able to get their medicine.”

This round of City Fund grants are the first distributed since a rebranding in February that helped distance the organization from past scandals. Under Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, the leader of the then-named Mayor’s Fund pleaded guilty to misusing $250k in funds.

Since then, there’s been more than just a name change. The fund’s board, previously composed solely of city employees, now features five independent members and four individuals appointed by various city offices. The organization now also has an independent accountant and conducts annual financial audits.  

Turning over a new leaf, the City Fund is ushering in a new era of grantees. 

The largest grant amount this year is going to the Fairmount Soccer Association, which offers children a chance to get into the sport regardless of socioeconomic status. 

Wendy Smith, the executive director of FSA, hopes to use the money to further emphasize community outreach and access. “You wonder if the kids who most need us are not getting to us yet,” she said.

What other programs are getting a financial boost? The orgs cover many areas of Philly’s health and wellness space, from the kitchen to the doctor’s office. 

Scroll down for a look at who received this year’s grants, and how they’ll be put to use. 


Grant amount: $20k

AccessMatters focuses on sexual and reproductive health services, and is considered a leader in health care consulting and training, according to its website. It also works to inform organizations of the impact of discrimination on healthcare access. 

The grant will support the launch of an online Health Equity Training Hub to help develop skills among city health care workers.


Grant amount: $24.3k

ACHIEVEability aims to dismantle generational poverty cycles in West Philadelphia neighborhoods through various services, including higher education and affordable housing.

The grant will be used for the org’s Vax Up, West Philly! program, which will provide low-income residents in the least vaccinated West Philly zip codes with monthly vaccination clinics and educational resources.

Breastfeeding Resource Center

Grant amount: $15k

The Breastfeeding Resource Center, located in Abington, is a hub for providing clinical and educational breastfeeding resources and services to the community.

The grant money will go to the center’s Virtual Support in the Fourth Trimester program, which offers free lactation support to lower-income families who deliver at Temple University Hospital. The service hopes to increase breastfeeding duration rates in North Philly.

Covenant House Pennsylvania

Grant amount: $22k

Covenant House offers young adults experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia shelter and resources, including food, clothing, safety, health care, and transitional services. 

Plans are for the grant money to go to general operational needs as program costs rise, resulting from the pandemic, inflation, and various other factors.

Double Trellis Food Initiative

(via the Federation of Neighborhood Centers)

Grant amount: $14.5k

The Double Trellis Food Initiative serves as a resource for food-insecure individuals in Philadelphia while also offering programming, like nutrition workshops and advocacy work, on the causes of food insecurity. 

The grant will support maintenance of the organization’s community kitchen, which aims to offer more than 40k meals via community fridges to residents across nine zip codes.

Education Plus Health

Grant amount: $22k

EPH manages school-based health centers across the city, offering on-site prevention and clinical resources to students. They assist more than 7,000 students in public and charter schools, and over 100 middle and high school students with after-school programming.

The grant will further support these health centers, which aim to support lower-income communities navigate their physical and mental health while promoting students’ educational aspirations and discouraging absenteeism. 

Fairmount Soccer Association

Grant amount: $25k

Fairmount Soccer Association offers soccer at Edgely Field in East Fairmount Park to children ages 18 months through 18 years, regardless of socioeconomic status or skill level. Along with providing opportunities to the city’s youth, the organization also hopes to promote soccer in Philadelphia.

The funds will allow the association to increase scholarships for players and cover the costs of permanent field lighting that FSA will own. 

Nationalities Service Center

Grant amount: $24,997.27

Nationalities Service Center offers legal services, health and wellness resources, food and housing support, and employment help to immigrants and refugees. 

The grant will support the Health Access Program for Newcomers, which offers the care coordination needed to connect immigrants with various health care services, including primary care and dental treatments.

Once Upon A Preemie

Grant amount: $22k

Once Upon A Preemie is a Black women-led nonprofit that provides health care professionals with health and racial equity education and other solutions that focus on the realities of Black parents who experience premature births in the city.

The grant will be used to help meet service demands by hiring a Philadelphia engagement lead, and to connect with local birthing hospitals to promote its programs.

SpArc Philadelphia

Grant amount: $14.1k

SpArc Philadelphia encompasses several nonprofit organizations, including SpArc Services and The Arc of Philadelphia, both of which support individuals with disabilities. The former assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through programs that aim to promote inclusion and autonomy. 

Grant funds will be used to help SpArc meet with a landscape architect to complete a design for The Park at SpArc, an outdoor space near the org’s building for conducting outdoor activities and emphasizing health and wellness for marginalized populations. 

Students Run Philly Style

Grant amount: $16,354

Students Run Philly Style pairs local students in 6th to 12th grades with an adult volunteer who mentors them and helps them train three times a week as they prepare for a long-distance race, the program’s final goal. 

The money will be used to support the training and development of the volunteer mentors in areas, like injury prevention and poverty, which some participants may experience. The funds will also cover running shoes, gear, transportation, other adjacent events for youth, and program evaluations.

Therapy Center of Philadelphia

Grant amount: $15k

Therapy Center of Philadelphia focuses on providing affordable offerings to individuals, including women, transgender, and gender non-conforming communities, in need of mental health services.

Funds will be used to support direct service costs for lower-income clients.

Why Not Prosper

Grant amount: $15k

Why Not Prosper, located in Germantown, assists current and formerly incarcerated women in Philadelphia, promoting autonomy, independence, and the importance of contributing to society. The org conducts outreach through its app and hotline, support services through a housing and family reunification service, and arranges workforce and entrepreneurial programming.

The organization will use the grant allocation to pilot a Healthcare Navigator Program, which will help connect formerly incarcerated women with Medicaid enrollment and physical and mental healthcare services.