Exciting News!

A partnership to elevate Friends of the Rail Park

by Sara Hirschler on November 21, 2017

In October, our partners at Friends of the Rail Park announced a $550,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation designed to transform their organization with help from Fairmount Park Conservancy.

The Rail Park is a proposed 3-mile linear park and multi-modal transportation corridor on former Reading Railroad lines connecting 10 neighborhoods to Fairmount Park, Center City, and some of Philadelphia’s most important cultural institutions. The Rail Park will serve as both a series of linked neighborhood parks and a destination for visitors from around the world.

The plans for the Rail Park start with a quarter mile section referred to as Phase 1, which is already underway. This new greenway, featuring high-quality design from Studio Bryan Hanes, will serve Philadelphia neighbors near and far with dynamic, locally-sourced programming and engagement strategies.

In preparation for the opening of Phase 1 in 2018, this grant will support the transformation of Friends of the Rail Park from an all-volunteer group to a staffed, professional stewardship organization that will fundraise for, tend to, and program The Rail Park.

The Conservancy has been working with Friends of the Rail Park over the last few years thanks to Reimagining the Civic Commons — the pilot program in a national initiative exploring how improving, repurposing, and connecting civic assets can lead to greater social and economic integration and opportunities. As a natural extension of this work, and given our vast experience building park stewardship groups in virtually every neighborhood of Philadelphia, William Penn Foundation chose the Conservancy as their partner for this new effort.

Our role will be to provide Friends of the Rail Park with strategic guidance on organizational structure, hiring, and new engagement strategies over the coming year. We are thrilled to be working with Friends of the Rail Park to make their organization the best it can be—which in turn will support and steward the game-changing public space that will serve the Callowhill and Chinatown communities, connect multiple neighborhoods, and further elevate Philadelphia as the hub of high-quality park spaces in the country.