The Innovation Fund has awarded four exciting City projects with funding for its spring 2021 cycle. The Innovation Fund is an internal City grant opportunity funded by the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia and this year, received its first private sector contribution from Verizon. The Fund is managed by the Innovation Management Team in the City’s Office of Innovation & Technology.

Each cycle, through a competitive application process, the Innovation Fund supports pilot projects created by City employees that propose new and unique programs, initiatives and service delivery methods. The Fund prioritizes projects and ideas that:

  • Have never been tried before in Philadelphia;
  • Pilot something that is new and different for a given department;
  • Push Philadelphia to be the first city to solve a problem in a unique way;
  • Leverage partnerships and stakeholder collaboration; and
  • Focus on delivering services more effectively, equitably, and efficiently to residents

About the projects

The below projects have received funding.

  • Free Library of Philadelphia: “Outdoor Computer Lab” ($6,945)
    • The Torresdale Library Branch will create the first-ever FLP outdoor computer area, allowing patrons to use laptops and engage with library offerings while maintaining social distance. The outdoor lab devices will not be time-restricted, granting community members the flexibility to fill out job applications, complete unemployment / benefit forms, create resumes, and more. A wireless printer will provide outdoor lab users with printing capabilities, including the option to print directly from their mobile phones (the first Free Library location to provide this technology).
  • Department of Public Health (DPH): “Bounce Back Philly (BBP) Creative Corner Newsletter” ($7,000)
    • As part of the existing BBP program—which provides resources and support for people who need to safely isolate or quarantine while diagnosed with COVID-19—the DPH is launching their Creative Corner Newsletter to engage isolated participants in activities such as art, poetry, writing, and mindfulness to help combat loneliness and boredom. The Creative Corner Newsletter will feature selected pieces of original work from quarantined individuals to better engage these residents and improve mental health during the “safe separation” from friends and family.
  • Office of Children and Families (OCF): “Interactive Mapping Project” ($3,500)
    • To democratize data and help families and direct service workers quickly and easily identify available City services in their community, OCF will hire a graduate fellow to develop an interactive, public-facing map of active programs, services, and assets. This dynamic map will include locations and service information about resources and initiatives such as Out-of-School Time programs, PHLpreK sites, adult education services, food access sites, Community Schools, libraries, and Parks & Recreation facilities. This would be the first map of its kind for the City because it offers up-to-date details about program enrollment, hours, available capacity, and more.
  • Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS): “Immigrant / Refugee Wellness Academy” ($7,500)
    • The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team within DBHIDS will launch a Wellness Academy for immigrant and refugee residents in Philadelphia. This knowledge and skill-based training program is designed to empower and prepare immigrants and refugees with the necessary tools to address the behavioral health and/or intellectual disability challenges experienced in the community. The Academy will implement a “train the trainer” model. The team will recruit a pilot cohort of 20 “peer specialists” (who are also immigrants and refugees) to share resources, provide support, and connect their community to other behavioral health services.