Much of the Free Library's ability to create and incubate cutting-edge programs and services is thanks to the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. One of the most long-standing and giving supporters has been the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has provided invaluable support to the Free Library community for more than two decades.
Knight’s investment in our neighborhood libraries has truly been an investment in the livelihood of our whole city. The foundation contributed to the Changing Lives campaign to bring internet access and improved technology to all neighborhood libraries. It also provided critical early support for the Free Library’s expansion of technology access by funding the first four Hot Spots—which bring internet and resources into community centers. Support for such innovations has helped the Free Library expand its reach beyond the walls of our 54 neighborhood libraries.
With its driving goal of fostering informed and engaged communities, the Knight Foundation has given the Free Library nearly a dozen grants—all for major, multi-year endeavors. This support has included serving as the lead sponsor for the Free Library’s Book Festival in 2008 through 2010 and as the sole institutional funder of the Library’s 2014 TEDx conference. As part of the Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative, it is currently funding the Knight Civic Commons at Lovett Memorial Library—a partnership with Mt. Airy USA to create a community park and reading garden for the neighborhood.
In addition, Knight’s dedication to the arts has served as a connector within the Free Library system. In the early 2000s, it supported arts and cultural programming at all North Philadelphia libraries, and it helped initiate the plan to incorporate original artwork from local artists in the pilot 21st Century Libraries. Planning for the Knight-funded Cultureshare program—a free web-based program that curates and distributes locally produced art in conversation with existing Free Library holdings—is now underway.
In recognition of the tremendous support of our friends at the Knight Foundation, the Free Library is delighted to welcome them into the Chairmen’s Circle—which honors those whose lifetime giving to the Free Library of Philadelphia has been $1 million or more.
Gifts to the Library come in all sizes, and any amount helps support both new and beloved programs, sustain and grow the renowned collections, and bolster the resources on which so many Philadelphians depend. Please join our community of supporters today!