The Innovation Fund has awarded three City projects with funding for its Fall 2023 cycle. The Innovation Fund is an internal City grant opportunity funded by the Philadelphia City Fund and managed by the Innovation Managers, a part of the City’s Public Technology and Innovation team. The Innovation Fund hosts two grant cycles per year and distributes micro grants to City departments to help launch creative initiatives that have the potential to improve the municipal government services.
During each cycle, a competitive application process takes place, and final funding decisions are made by the Philadelphia City Fund’s Board of Directors.
The Innovation Fund had $25,000 to award for this cycle.
About the projects
The following projects have received funding.
- “Accessible signage for Philly Phlush pilot locations” (Managing Directors Office for Health and Human Services (HHS)) – $3,012: The MDO HHS team will install innovative and accessible signage for the six “Philly Phlush” sites, the City’s public restroom pilot. The project team will use funding to:
- add signs for the currently unlabeled restroom amenities (handwashing station buttons, menstrual products, sharps container, Naloxone boxes, etc.)
- create an accessible map signage to orient blind/low vision individuals to the restroom and ensure equitable access
- replace existing signs that came with the unit that are not high enough contrast for low vision users to more easily read. The team will engage community stakeholders who are blind or low-vision to help inform the sign design and create measures of success to evaluate signage; stakeholders will be invited for site visits after implementation and subsequent focus groups to help inform evaluation.
- “Financial support pilot for Alternative Felony Disposition Program participants” (District Attorney’s Office (DAO)) – $10,000: AFD is a pre-trial diversion program for individuals charged with carrying a gun without a license who have no significant criminal history. This financial support pilot will provide discrete and limited financial assistance to help cover small costs for AFD participants that might otherwise become barriers to success and completion of the program (I.e., a fee to enter a GED program, or cost to renew a driver’s license). Additionally, some portion of funding would be used to provide stipends for previous AFD graduates who return to speak with current participants. By removing financial barriers, the pilot aims to show the public that programs like AFD are successful in supporting participants, increasing employment, and reducing recidivism.
- “Accessible Domestic Violence Resources & Information” (Office of Domestic Violence Strategies (ODVS)) – $8,638: Data shows people with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English (LOTE) experience abuse in relationships at higher rates. There are currently very few resources designed specifically for people with limited English proficiency or people who use ASL. This pilot aims to address the critical information gap for populations significantly impacted and with limited access to services. The project team will create printed resources containing simple images and limited text, along with corresponding videos available in multiple languages and ASL (linked on the printed resources). Feedback and input from the core audience is a key component of this pilot, and a portion of funding will be used to provide compensation for stakeholder participation in three focus groups. In addition to the City of Philadelphia team, two state-level partners are committed to providing resources, time, and technical assistance: PA DHS Office of Developmental Programs, and ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training). ASERT is available to run additional focus groups and has an existing contract with a graphic designer experienced in accessible design. Both groups are willing to share materials across the state in hopes this work can be act as a framework for other communities.