With a population of 1.5 million people, our local government has a vast amount of services to meet the needs of every resident—from urban gardeners to skateboarders, community leaders to musicians. As a new member of the Mayor’s Office team, I learn about a new city service or program everyday—and I wanted to share a few of them with you!
Here are 13 useful City services that you should know about:
1. Organize a neighborhood clean-up with supplies from CLIP
Want to beautify your block and organize a clean-up? The Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP) will lend you all the supplies you need!
CLIP can also clean-up vacant lots and remove graffiti from buildings, street signs and other street fixtures. You can request CLIP services through Philly311 or give them a call at 215-683-2547.
2. Use your library card for more than just books
You may already know that you can sign-up to receive a library card from the Free Library of Philadelphia at no cost — and they’ll even mail it to you! But did you know your library card can be used for more than just checking out books?
With your library card, you can access free internet at any library branch, streaming services for your favorite TV shows and movies, and even musical instruments from the Music Department at Parkway Central!
3. Don’t sweat it, cool off at a public sprayground
Summers in the city can get hot, so it’s important to stay hydrated and cool. Ever summer you can bring the kids out to play in the sprinklers around the city—for free! They are fun, safe and a free way to get outside and play in the sun while staying cool. You can find a sprayground in your neighborhood. And if you’re looking to cool off with a deep dive, there are over 70 public pools that you can visit around our city during the summer!
4. Send your kids to summer camp
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation offers day camps and specialized theme camps at playgrounds, recreation centers, and facilities across the city. Day camps include an array of activities such as arts and crafts, sports, performing arts, nature activities, library time, dance, swimming and more! If your child has a knack for drawing, love of sports or has always wanted to try rowing, you can sign them up for one of the themed camps. But don’t wait—you can register now in time for summer.
5. Plant a tree for free in your neighborhood
Do you think that you block is bare and could use a tree to brighten it up? Philadelphia Parks and Recreation can plant a tree along your sidewalk without you having to lift a finger!
But it doesn’t stop there—TreePhilly has given out over 1,000 free yard trees that you can plant on your property each spring and fall. They also offer guidance on how to care for your trees throughout the year. With spring and summer around the corner, now is the perfect time to apply—get a free yard tree or street tree in your neighborhood today!
6. Get 30 gallons of free compost for your garden
More and more Philadelphians are becoming interested in green living and healthy food options. One way you can gain unlimited access to fresh food, bring some nature to your block and engage neighbors of all ages is to start a garden! But you may be wondering, where do I start and what do I need? Philadelphia Parks and Recreation can help you get started with 30 gallons of free organic materials from the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center! All of the center’s compost is approved and tested through the US Composting Council Seal of Testing Assurance Program, so you can get free AND quality organic materials right here in the city.
7. Take a free class with the Office of Adult Education
The Office of Adult Education is committed to helping residents improve their literacy skills and prepare to enter the workforce or continue their education. Adults can sign up for personal tutoring, G.E.D. and computer skills classes, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and career preparation services at their local library branch. Apply for a free adult education class.
8. Get a free smoke detector installed in your home
Fire is everyone’s fight, and it’s always important to be prepared in case of emergency. The Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) is ready to install roughly 30,000 smoke alarms in homes across the city. The PFD also has adaptive alarms for people who have hearing and visual impairments. You can request a free smoke alarm install by reaching out to Philly 311. You reach them by dialing 3-1-1 or at email@example.com. And remember, alarms should be installed on every floor in your home and tested each week!
9. Find the Free Library’s Book Bike in your neighborhood for education on-the-go
If you can’t always make it to your local library branch, you may catch a Book Bike around the city. Book Bikes visit schools, events or travel around the community, stocked with books for you to grab. Book Bikes are pedaled by Free Library staff who can help you find interesting books or tell you about the many services offered by our libraries. You can find the Book Bike on social media using #FLPBookBike to find the location of their next scheduled visit.
10. Don’t risk it—make online purchases or exchanges in the lobby of your local police district
Ever decide to buy something online from someone you’ve never met? Many of us have and are also probably familiar with feeling a bit nervous to meet someone in-person who you’ve only spoken to online. With the help of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), you can make that exchange worry free and without an appointment. All you have to do is show up in the lobby of any police district around the city. Here’s a list of local police districts with their addresses and contact information.
11. Get informed and get involved in policy changes with the City’s Action Guides
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more people want to get involved to change our local communities for the better. It can be difficult to become civically engaged and make your voice heard when you’re not sure how to get started. To help Philadelphians learn about and help initiate policy changes, the City created Action Guides. Right now, you can find guides on gun control and immigration policies as well as local LGBTQ+ protections. Get informed, get the facts, and take action!
12. Explore Philly’s unique art-scene with the Arts Access Calendar
One of the many reasons both residents and visitors love Philadelphia is because of its abundance of art! From murals hidden on the sides of neighborhood homes to the sculptures along the Avenue of the Arts and the Museums themselves, there are many art forms to explore. That’s why the The Office of Arts, Culture and The Creative Economy (OACCE) created the Arts Access Calendar, which includes both paid and free activities and events all across Philly neighborhoods.
13. Stay in-the-know with ReadyPhiladelphia texts right to your phone
Want to stay up-to-date during city events —think Mummers Parade or Broad Street Run— so you can avoid a traffic jam or even head right to the action? Or maybe you want to make sure your outdoor patio furniture is secure or placed inside during extreme weather conditions? The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has you covered. For real-time updates sent right to your phone about events or severe weather conditions, simply text ReadyPhila to 888-777. If text alerts aren’t for you, you can sign up for email or voicemail options. You can also tailor the system to send you updates for specific locations—just choose five addresses.