For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


PHILADELPHIA, April 13, 2016—The Free Library of Philadelphia is honored to have been awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant to support the implementation of The Paschalville Partnership: Transforming Library Services to the Job Seeker Through Collective Impact. This $540,000 grant will create a model for how public libraries can fully integrate their work with the broader systems of workforce development and adult education.

The community surrounding Paschalville Library, in Southwest Philadelphia, faces historic levels of poverty, geographic isolation, and low education attainment. Paschalville Library has long run a Job Readiness Lab that offers extended appointments with one-on-one assistance for job seekers. Seeking to expand this program, the Library used the support of a 2013 National Leadership Planning Grant that enabled it to solidify the Paschalville Partnership, a coalition of organizations unified behind the goal of raising employment levels in Southwest Philadelphia. The new grant will fund implementation of the partnership’s “Common Agenda,” a three-year project beginning in May 2016.  

“This is great news for the Paschalville Library and the Free Library,” says Mayor Jim Kenney.  “I was able to visit the library recently, so I know that the grant will go far in expanding the impactful job readiness program that has already helped so many individuals in the neighborhood.”

The project will create a protocol and training for staff to assess job seeker needs; support coordination between partners to ensure a complete range of programming to meet job seeker needs, including adult literacy and basic education courses, ESL courses, and job skills training; expand computer-skills training and access; develop training and outreach to meet the needs of job seekers from immigrant communities and those who have a history of incarceration; and implement proactive communication and outreach with the local community.

“We know job seekers often turn to the Free Library for support, and our staff is continuously striving to develop resources and programs to best serve them,” says Siobhan A. Reardon, president and director. “This grant will enable the Library and its partners to continue investing in the livelihood of our citizens, and thereby our whole city.”

This project will use a collective impact model to better serve the community through a partnership of organizations working together toward a common goal—rather than multiple organizations operating independently. With the Free Library leading the initiative, the project has gained the support of Philadelphia’s leading agencies in workforce development and adult education, including the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy; Philadelphia Works, Inc.; PA CareerLink; Financial Empowerment Centers; Southwest Community Development Corporation; CityLights Network, a faith-based organization with strong ties in Southwest Philadelphia; AFRICOM, the Coalition of African Communities; and the Outley House Shelter, a large emergency men’s shelter across the street from Paschalville Library.

This $1 million project will be made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries support projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance practice in those fields. 

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hotspots; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach. With more than 6 million in-person visits and millions more online annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850