twenty-year retrospective
2006 - 2016
In Her Honor
This report is dedicated to Independence
Foundation Board member Andrea Mengel
(1998 – 2016). A woman with incredible vision,
commitment, sense of humor and intelligence.
We miss every day her gentle guidance,
thoughtful insights and loving friendship.
It is my pleasure to present a twenty-year
retrospective of the work of the Independence
Foundation. I joined the Board of the Foundation
in 1993, and became President in 1996, as the
first full-time professional staff member since
1991. Needless to say, there was a lot of work
to accomplish -- the first task of the board: to
formalize the informal. This included, but was not
limited to: defining grant areas, clarifying board
mission, and developing grant processes, from
letters of intent to award-making. It also included
moving the office from a magcard typewriter to computers, as well as
hiring staff.
My first day of work in January 1996 was challenging, as we were met
with an eviction notice for the space we had occupied since the 1960s.
Since our lease had been month to month, and our space was in need of
restoration, the Board decided at our first meeting to look for new space.
The statement “build us an office that looks like this office” became our
mantra. And so, with their support, I did. I have frequently said I have never
built a home for myself, but I built a home for the Foundation, our staff and
our grantees.
In this retrospective, we have tried to summarize our lessons learned
in twenty years. Additionally, we have tried to provide a perspective on
our grantmaking strategy: providing general operating support, making
long-term commitments to our grantees, and asking our grantees what
they think is important, for their work and for the city and counties
around them. We have also strived to be a connector to organizations and
individuals who have common goals and interests. In many ways. I am
proud to say we have done that.
I look forward to the next years of the Foundations work and to continue
our goal of “going in search of people, finding out what they know, building
on what we have learned.
Thank you to all who have supported this work, with a special thank you to
all of the board members who have shared and participated in this journey.
Susan Sherman
President & CEO
Board Members & Length of Service
Judge Phyllis W. Beck (1993-present)
Susan Sherman (1993-present)
André Dennis (1998-present)
Bart Silverman (2005-present)
Catherine Carr (2015-present)
Derick Dreher (2015-present)
Frederick Donner (1980-1995)
Ted Warner (1992-2005)
Robert LaRocca (1994-1998)
Aaron Posner (1997-1998)
Eugene Fish (1997-2011)
Andrea Mengel (1998-2016)
Pedro Ramos (2011-2015)
Staff Members. Full-Time
Judge Phyllis W. Beck
Chief Financial Officer,
Chair of the Board
Jennifer Bohnenberger
Chief Operating Officer &
Director of Programs
Susan Sherman
President & CEO
Kate Tejada
Office Administrator
Staff Members. Part-Time
Ann Torregrossa
Health Care, Legal Services Consultant
Glen Knapp
Leadership Consultant
Rose Tomlinson
board of
Hon. Phyllis W. Beck
Catherine C. Carr, Esq.
André L. Dennis, Esq.
Vice President
Derick Dreher, PhD
Susan E. Sherman
President and CEO
Barton M. Silverman
Vice President
The Independence Foundation is a private, not-for-profit philanthropic or-
ganization serving Philadelphia and its surrounding Pennsylvania counties.
The Foundations mission is to support organizations that provide services
to people who do not ordinarily have access to them. With a strong focus
on health, the Foundation invests in people and programs that enrich the
life experiences of the residents of the Philadelphia area. In addition to
health care, the Foundation extends its funding to human services, legal
aid and arts & culture, building on the belief that a region that promotes
physical well-being, provides equal access to services, values justice, and
appreciates the arts will thrive for generations to come.
resituated our offices at
IInfluenced by the death of his son
from cancer three years earlier,
steelmaker William H. Donner
founded the International Cancer
Research Foundation. After World
War II, as government funding
dominated medical research, he refocused the
foundation’s agenda to education and changed
its name to the Donner Foundation. Finding
substantial grant programs for college
education, but little available at the pre-college
level, the Donner Foundation began its
long involvement in secondary education.
William H. Donner died at
the age of 96, leaving the
directorate of the Foundation
to his children and
Judge Phyllis W. Beck becomes
Chair of the Board of Directors
of Independence Foundation
and Susan E. Sherman is named
President and CEO.
The Foundation expanded its
education funding to nursing
education and endowments
to nine Schools of Nursing
across the country.
Assets were divided equally
between the newly formed
Donner Foundation, which
moved to New York,
and the original Philadelphia-based
foundation, which became the Independence
Foundation. The Independence Foundation
funded secondary education through
scholarships, endowments and a school
loan program, as well as giving grants to
local cultural and arts organizations.
The Foundation shifted its
focus from education to
health, supporting initiatives
in community-based nurse-
managed health care in
neighborhoods where health services were
not traditionally available, as well as funding
programs in Arts & Culture, Human Services,
and Public Interest Legal Aid.
Independence Foundation moved from its
longtime residence at One South Broad
Street, in the former PNB Building, where
it occupied the penthouse apartment
originally designed for department store
heir Rodman Wanamaker and his wife. The Foundation
relocated to its current home on the eleventh floor
of 200 Broad Street, in the Offices at the Bellevue.
Summary of Grants
Largest grant made by Foundation
1100 grants
Awarded to 295 local
performing and visual artists
18 grants awarded to 12 theatres
309 grants
Paid in support of 75 fellows working in Public Interst Law
840 grants
416 grants
10 grants
The arts can bind people through shared experience and understanding. Art plays a
transformative role in society, one that enriches community and connects people.
The Foundation supports programs in the arts that enhance the common artistic
spirit through creation or performance. To this end, Independence Foundation awards
multi-year general operating grants aimed at strengthening organizations by supporting
creative work and administrative capacity, based on community involvement, artistic
merit, and leadership in the field. Programs that connect the arts with non-traditional
participants, and increase both access to and awareness of the arts, are of special
interest to the Foundation.
As part of the Foundation’s commitment to recognize and support work by artists
across the region, individual artists are funded in both the performing and visual arts
through the Fellowships in the Arts program.
In addition to providing general operating grants to local theatres, the New Theatre
Works Initiative was launched to encourage the development and production of new
theatrical work in the Philadelphia area. Independence Foundation also supports many
larger cultural institutions in the region, believing that they contribute to making the
Philadelphia area both culturally vibrant and economically healthy.
Independence Foundation
bolsters the well-being of
the region by supporting
a variety of opportunities
for involvement and
participation in the arts.
has been awarded since 1996 across these three
initiatives in support of the arts.
mural arts
Bebe Benoliel was a patron of the arts. She founded the Creative Artists’ Network (now
the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, a.k.a. CFEVA) because she wanted to promote
emerging artists. She loved the work of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network and later,
Mural Arts. She saw the raw energy and talent of the young graffiti artists we engaged and
the way the murals captured the heart and soul of communities across our city.
Bebe was always looking out for us, introducing us to new people and always
brainstorming with us on ways we could expand our work. One day she said she wanted
me to meet Susan Sherman, president of the Independence Foundation. I felt nervous;
I had heard of the foundation but I had never thought of applying for financial support.
After all, we had not been Mural Arts for very long and the number of foundation people I
knew was close to zero. Even so, I grew excited as our lunch date neared.
At that meeting, Susan was funny, smart, insightful, and honest—the Susan Sherman we
all know and love. It was refreshing to meet someone so accomplished yet so down to
earth and accessible. I liked her immediately.She asked me to be honest with her: “What
did I want to accomplish?” “What were the next steps I wanted to take in building out the
This is the
gift of the
a foundation
that dreams
with its
grantees, that
with them, that
provides not
only funding
but support,
advice, and
wisdom; a
that can
multitask and
help support
their grantees
over a long
and sustained
period of time.
by Jane Golden
Executive Director
program?” I said I wanted our program to be generative;
I dreamt of broadening our pool of artists and reaching
out to the many young artists who wanted to try their
hands at doing murals but had no idea how or where
to begin. Susan heard this and came back with a great
idea: “Why not have an internship program in order to
create real pathways for artists?” Within a few years,
this concept became a proposal, which then turned into
a funded initiative that today is one of the cornerstones
of Mural Arts’ practice. In addition to the internship
program, Independence has supported the creation of
a half-dozen landmark murals over the years, and has
provided Mural Arts with invaluable general operating
This is the gift of the Independence Foundation:
a foundation that dreams with its grantees, that
strategizes with them, that provides not only funding
but support, advice, and wisdom; a foundation that can
multitask and therefore help support their grantees over
a long and sustained period of time. They think, not just
about supporting one initiative that will come and go,
but about the whole organization. Time and again they
ask us challenging and important questions; “How do
we continue to stay strong, vital, and relevant?” “How
do we plan and strategize in order to sustain our work?”
And it is not just Mural Arts that they are supporting.
The Independence Foundation has made a huge imprint
on community public health, legal services, arts and
culture, and many other areas. Its impact on the health
and well-being of our city is profound. This did not
happen by accident. It happened because of the people
at the top.
What great role models Judge Beck, Susan Sherman,
and the Board of the Independence Foundation are to
their staff members and peers in the field – models of
smart grantmaking and what it means to truly support
grantees. Some years back, when I won the Visionary
Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design,
the award was presented to me by Judge Beck. I saw
Susan sitting in the audience as I stood on the stage
and I thought, at that very moment, how incredibly
lucky I was to know them. I knew in my heart that there
was no better person to hand me this award, and that
their encouragement, support, and love had made
me a better leader, had made Mural Arts a stronger
organization, and Philadelphia a better city. Thanks to
their leadership, compassion, and insight, everything
was able to flourish and to rise.
IN 1998, conversations
begAn about creating an
Independence Foundation
funding program for
local Philadelphia artists’
career development.
In 1998, Aaron Posner, former Artistic
Director and Co-Founder of the Arden
Theatre Company, approached Independence
Foundation with the idea of creating a
program to provide career development
funding for local independent artists.
Round-table discussions about what
such a program would look like were held
by the Foundation throughout that year
with artists, heads of arts organizations,
representatives of artistic service
organizations, and other funders.
The idea of creating a program like this was
met with enormous enthusiasm,” said Posner,
at the time. “There was clearly a sense among
all constituents that this kind of support is both
crucial, and lacking. There are wonderful local
programs at Pew and the Leeway Foundation,
but nothing quite like this. These fellowships
are targeted specifically to help artists take
important next steps in their own growth and
development. Our hope is that this can be one
more important way to continue to support and
strengthen the local arts community.
This initiative
provides venture
capital for new art
“Philadelphia has a wealth of emerging
performing and visual artists” said original
discussion participant, FringeArts’ President &
Producing Director, Nick Stuccio, “but for many
of these artists, there is no resource base to
support their work. It can serve as that initial
boost for an emerging artist as well as a stamp of
approval for more established artists. There is a
need not only in Philadelphia, but also nationally,
to provide this kind of innovative support.
Taking what was learned through the roundtables and
formalizing it into a funding initiative, the Independence
Foundation Fellowships in the Arts program was
established in 1999 as an opportunity for exceptional
artists to take a key step forward in their professional
development. With these fellowships, artists have
been encouraged to be creative in discovering the best
possible way to expand their artistic horizons. There are
no set boundaries for what is possible or what types
of projects might be funded. Successful projects have
been well designed and of maximum practical value to
the artist and have given the artist an opportunity for
artistic growth and improvement; such as assisting the
artist in acquiring new skills relevant to his/her work;
or providing the artist with a unique developmental
opportunity. Fellowship grants have been awarded to
originating artists (painters, sculptors, choreographers,
playwrights, composers, etc.) and interpretive artists
(actors, dancers, musicians, etc.) There are two grant
cycles annually, one in the Visual Arts (spring) and one
in the Performing Arts (fall).
Since the Independence Foundation Fellowships in
the Arts program began seventeen years ago, over
$2.2 million has been awarded to 295 local visual and
performing artists. This incredibly gifted group of
artists has been given a unique opportunity to grow and
flourish in their professions.
Our region enjoys an
extraordinary array
of talent, creativity,
and passion.
Through the Fellowships in the Arts, Independence
Foundation is proud to have contributed to the
vibrancy of the local arts scene by taking an active
role in supporting and providing opportunities to the
outstanding individual artists who entertain, enrich,
and inspire our community.
$2.2 million
has been awarded to 295 local visual and performing artists over 17 years
Visual Arts Fellow
Sister Helen David
Brancato has said of her
The Fellowship led me to
places I never expected—it
enabled me to give voice
to so many things I care
about and helped me to
share these concerns
with others. I am forever
grateful to an organization
that believes in the power
of art and is willing to help
struggling artists.
I am writing this to express my admiration and share some of my experiences related to
the Independence Foundations Fellowships in the Arts program.
My own experiences with funding from the Foundation were game changers. It is a
reality for me and many other artists that we struggle to remain productive in uncertain
economic times, when sales are unpredictable and sometimes far between. A Fellowships
in the Arts grant can truly save the soul of an artist. In my own case, teaching and writing
helps me to pay my day-to-day bills, but there is a trade off in that they require enormous
amounts of time and energy. Key project funding from the Independence Foundation has
given me the time to focus on the important themes of my work at critical moments and
truly advance my vision as an artist.
I strongly believe that the time we live in requires every artist to fight hard for the
preservation of human values, civil engagement and meaning, and carry the torch of
culture forward to the next generation. As an engaged citizen of the city, I have long
admired the complexity and beauty of urban life. My project, Citizens, which has
been generously supported by the Foundation, is a series of drawings and sculptures
documenting the ordinary people who make up the fabric of public life in Philadelphia.
This work is challenging, exciting, and gets me out of my comfort zone. I have worked with
homeless people and street performers, construction workers and community gardeners,
and this has given me a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of each of Philadelphias
Time after
time, I have
seen the huge
impact that
a focused and
project grant
can make to
an artist.
susan hagen
Visual Artist,
prior recipient and
current Peer Panel
member of the
Fellowships in
the Arts
citizens and the richness of the diverse subcultures
around me. The process I use to create my sculptures is
a traditional and very time-consuming process of hand
woodcarving, which I love for its ability to capture details
and the individuality of each of my subjects. Funding
from the Independence Foundation has given me the
ability to work with more people and explore the deeper
ideas in this work, without undue consideration of its
marketability. For this, I am extremely grateful.
Through my work on the panel over the years, I have
seen the positive effects of Independence Fellowships
on a large number of artists in the Philadelphia area. This
type of funding (focused on projects) acts like a kind of
lever, and helps artists achieve what would have been
unreachable goals in their creative work. As a member of
the panel, I have participated in the careful appraisal of
each artists’ work and proposal. Though each person’s
request for support in terms of their work, processes and
goals are quite different – and these include travel, tools,
materials and training, as well as the luxury of more
time in the studio – time after time, I have seen the huge
impact that a focused and well-timed project grant can
make to an artist. Many images of the strong, cohesive
bodies of work from over the years come to mind. I still
remember Judy Taylors wonderful series of photographs
of lost mittens from the early years of the program.
This work, funded by grants from the Independence
Foundation, have over time added immeasurably to the
life and culture of the City of Philadelphia.
On behalf of a generation of Philadelphia artists, I am
very grateful for the support of the Foundation, and
to the enlightened stewardship of Judge Beck, Susan
Sherman and the board. I am honored to have been a
part of the process and to help with the advancement of
the program in the future.
Through my work on the panel over
the years, I have seen the positive
effects of Independence Fellowships
on a large number of artists in the
Philadelphia area. This type of funding
(focused on projects) acts like a kind
of lever, and helps artists achieve
what would have been unreachable
goals in their creative work.
Philadelphia has become well-known as a hotbed for innovation
in theatrical performance. The Independence Foundation has
long supported new play production at select area theatres. One
of these, the Arden Theatre Company, and itsIndependence
Foundation New Play Showcase, was featured in a November 10,
2008New York Times article entitled “In Philadelphia, Grants Give
Voice to Theater” (Klein 2008). Terrence J. Nolen, the Arden’s
Producing Artistic Director, noted that the Showcase not only
helped generate a developmental pipeline for original plays, but
also infused “a community around the creation of new work.”
The Showcase came about when the Arden approached the
Independence Foundation in 1999 for more operational support
and the Foundation’s President & CEO, Susan Sherman, instead
challenged them with, “Let’s talk about what you really want to do;
what are you dreaming?” This question later became the impetus
for the Foundation to delve further into what would be possible
with a formalized program dedicated to developing new works for
In the spring of 2009, the Independence Foundation began to
explore what was being done around this topic throughout the
country as well as here in Philadelphia. While the Philadelphia
theatre scene shares similarities with other cities, there are also
aspects unique to this region, especially around physical, multi-
disciplinary and devised performance work. The Foundation
understood that any program instituted would need to address
these and not simply be for text-based, scripted plays. With this in
mind, a broad group of local artistic directors and presenters from
both large and small theatre companies and organizations was
convened around the question, “If Independence Foundation were
to create a program to fund new works for
theatre, what would you like to see it include?”
To help structure a program that would
be advantageous to its participants,
the Foundation looked to one of its own
established initiatives, the Fellowships in the
Arts for individual artists. The core reasoning
is that fellowships designed by artists
themselves will have the most significant
In 2010, the Foundation, responding to the
input from local theatre leaders, implemented
a multi-year grant program that encompasses
the wide-ranging techniques for the creation
of new work.The Independence Foundation
New Theatre Works Initiative (NTWI) is
designed to encourage the development and
production of new theatrical performance
work in the Philadelphia region. Rather
than limit its scope to a single form, genre
or developmental structure, these grants
accommodate the numerous creative styles
and unique perspectives of theatre groups by
allowing them to design their own process for
developing new work.
The NTWI provides two, 3-year grants each
year to regional nonprofit theatre companies
to support the creation of new artistic theatre
performances. One grant per year is awarded
at each of these funding levels:
“Let’s talk about what you
really want to do; what
are you dreaming?”
Small Theatre: $75,000/3 years (at $25,000
per year) to a theatre group with an annual
operating budget between $250,000 and
$1,000,000; and
Large Theatre: $150,000/3 years (at $50,000
per year) to a theatre group with an annual
operating budget greater than $1,000,0000.
One grant demonstrates a marriage of sorts between
the NTWI and the Fellowships in the Arts. FringeArts
used their initial NTWI grant to deepen their
commitment to the artists they serve through their
own Fellowship Program in the Live Arts Brewery (the
LAB), a laboratory for research and development. The
LAB offered artists comprehensive assistance and
structured guidance as they research, develop, create
and test original performance works. The NTWI grant
allowed for two production residencies each year for
select LAB Fellows to move their work from the studio
to in front of audiences, with full technical support,
including lights, sound and sets. The first year’s
recipients, Geoff Sobelle and Thaddeus Phillips, were
former Independence Foundation Fellows who took
the projects initially explored through the Foundation’s
fellowships into further development through ten
months in the LAB, to audience test shows through
the LAB Production Residencies, to fully-produced,
highly successful two-week runs at the Philadelphia
Fringe Festival withThe Object Lesson andWhale Optics,
respectively.The Object Lessonhas had a life outside of
Philadelphia, playing in 2014 at BAM in New York and the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it took the top prize,
the 2014 Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh award. It has
continued playing from the Sydney and Perth Festivals
in Australia to the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC in
2016, to the highly acclaimed run at New York Theatre
Workshop in spring 2017. The ability to provide these
residencies allowed FringeArts to build a conduit for
new shows and give artists the opportunity for creative
exploration. “We want our homegrown talent to get
access to proper resources and development,” says
FringeArts Founder, President & Producing Director,
Nick Stuccio. “By getting live performance in front of an
audience at an early stage, artists gain the opportunity to
see what’s working and what’s not—but not necessarily
how it relates to production. We are more interested in
finding out whether the basic experimentation that has
been going on in the studio translates to an audience.
For the Independence Foundation, the excitement of
the NTWI lies in the diversity of the projects and the
limitless possibilities for results. For the organizations, the
NTWI grants, being separate from the general operating
support the Foundation continues to provide, allow
them the freedom to experiment with no predetermined
expectations of the outcomes. Since 2010, $1,650,000
has been awarded to 12 local theatre companies through
the NTWI.
$1.65 million
has been awarded to 12 local theatre companies through
the new theatre works initiative
The Object Lesson
arden theatre company
The Ardens relationship with the
Independence Foundation began in 1995,
shortly after we moved into our current
home in Old City. The neighborhood was
quite different then, with only a handful
of restaurants and many empty buildings
awaiting future development. We were
thrilled when Susan Sherman first visited
our new facility – even more when she was
excited by the work that we were doing
– and then horrified to learn that her car
window had been smashed outside of our
building. With visions of a funder leaving
the theatre, never to return, we profusely
apologized and assumed the worst.
But at that time, we didn’t know Susan
Sherman. Of course she returned. And
Susan, Judge Phyllis Beck and other
members of the board have been returning
to the Arden for over two decades since
then, helping the Arden to become an
anchor in the Old City neighborhood and in
this cultural community.
The Foundation asks a lot of questions
– precise, probing ones. This was
intimidating at first and one couldn’t help
but feel as if early meetings were cross-
examinations determined to get past the
hyperbole and spin and actually get to the
essence of what was going on and what the
next key steps might be. Indeed they were
exactly that. They were determined to get
to the heart of an issue, to truly understand
the Ardens needs and our aspirations for
the future: What are you most passionate
about doing next? Why? What does the
community really need now? How?
I’ve come to love these discussions. I am
fortified by how much the Independence
Foundation wants to make a difference
serving the vision and passions of this
community. I remain awed by their curiosity
and insight, their constant desire to know
what is happening in the community: Who
are the new companies whose work they
should know? What new artistic practices
the foundation
in people.
they have
Again and again,
they invested in
passion. They
have played
a leadership
role in making
a stronger
and more vital
place, and
this cultural
and the many
who call
home owe them
a world of
by Terrence J. Nolan
Producing Artistic Director
are emerging – and why are artists coming together
around these new ideas and ways of working?
As I look at Independence Foundation over the more than
two decades that I have worked with them, I am struck
that they have continually sought to understand what was
exciting to artists at that moment – what did they need
now? And perhaps most importantly, what’s next? Long
before innovation became a buzz word, through probing
questions and true curiosity, the Foundation asked – or
rather, demanded – that we be true to our convictions and
identify and pursue what was truly most exciting for us
and our organizations at that exact point in time, allowing
us to look to the future with courage, excitement and
confident of their support.
As we settled into our new home in Old City, we began
to look to how to further grow and develop the Arden’s
artistic programming. Our mission is to bring to the
stage great stories by great storytellers, and I had long
wanted to have a comprehensive approach to fostering
the development and production of new stories for the
stage. We were often approached by playwrights who
had exciting projects that they wanted to develop through
readings or workshops, but we lacked the infrastructure
and resources to do so. One such writer was Michael
Ogborn, who had written a wildly ambitious new musical
that told the story of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and
the media circus that ensued. Baby Case was thrilling,
audacious, hugely compelling – and far too large for us to
tackle. It also clearly needed significant workshop time
to clarify the narrative, fine tune the point of view, explore
vocal arrangements, and see how this extraordinary story
and score could truly sing. I told Michael that I loved Baby
Case and wanted to help him bring it to life, but that we
just didn’t have the capacity and resources to do so.
Jump to my next meeting with Susan Sherman, sometime
in 1999, where she once again asked, “So what’s the next
big step?” After what was probably a long pause, and
emboldened by my deep passion for Michael Ogborns
work, I explained that the Arden wanted to create a
new program to develop and produce new plays and
musicals for the American stage, adding, “But starting
this is expensive and risky.” Again, the questions, as
Susan drilled down to understand the why, what and
how. After a long discussion, Susan suggested that we
put in a proposal for this new program, but I wasn’t sure if
it would actually happen or not; perhaps this was where
she said that our dream was too risky, too expensive, too
ambitious. Yet a few months later, I received a call from
Susan to let me know that we had been awarded a three
year grant to launch the Independence Foundation New
Play Showcase, the Arden’s new development program
in support of the creation of extraordinary new plays and
musicals. Upon hearing this news, the first call I made
was to Michael Ogborn to tell him that we had received
a gift to help make his dream a reality. We workshopped
Baby Case over the next two years, working with a musical
team, production staff and 24 actors. We premiered
Baby Case in 2002, the Ardens first-ever world premiere
musical, and that musical is still considered one of the
Ardens signature productions. We later launched a
commissioning program, to provide writers support while
working on a new project. Further, with support from the
New Theatre Works Initiative, we piloted a new playwright
residency program called The Writer’s Room, working to
provide exceptional writers an artistic home. We next
expanded our work to include the New Musical Theatre
Initiative, to focus more specifically on the creation of
new musical theatre works. We are thrilled that our first
project developed under this initiative, TouchTones by
Michael Hollinger and Robert Maggio, will be produced
next season, our 30
anniversary season, and will be the
Ardens 43
world premiere production.
The Independence Foundation has helped foster
important relationships as well, continually making
introductions to other leaders, funders and potential
stakeholders. One of the most valuable of these
connections was with Dr. Andrea Mengel, who was an
Independence Foundation Board member looking to be
more engaged with Philadelphia’s cultural community.
Susan suggested that Andy meet with us, and the
connection was immediate – and deepened significantly
throughout the years. Andy was an important force on
our Board of Directors, serving as Vice President of the
Board and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee
through several strategic plans. In many ways, Andy
set a standard for planning at the Arden; she, like Susan
and Judge Beck before her, asked probing questions,
challenged assumptions, provided additional perspective,
and believed fiercely in this organization. She continued to
champion our new play development programming and,
working with the Independence Foundation, supported
our facility campaigns and expansion: the Independence
Foundation Studio and the Hamilton Family Arts Center’s
Independence Foundation Lobby aretestamentsto
her efforts to help the Arden to grow and thrive. Susan
Sherman is a great matchmaker, and Andy Mengel and the
Arden were a perfect match. We are honored that Andy
served on the Arden Board of Directors for over 15 years.
As we approach the Arden’s 30
Anniversary season, I am
struck by how important Susan Sherman, Judge Phyllis
Beck and the Independence Foundation Board of Directors
and staff have been in securing the Arden’s future. With
their support, we played a pivotal role in the development
of the Old City community – I can’t remember the last
time that someone’s car was broken into. We have helped
to establish Philadelphia as a vital and respected hub
for the creation of new work for the American theatre,
helping so many extraordinary writers create new plays
and musicals that are produced both here and beyond.
The abiding support of the Independence Foundation
helped transform Philadelphia into a thriving and growing
regional theatre town, home to exceptional artists,
administrators and audiences. The Foundation believes
in people. They have continually recognized potential.
Again and again, they invested in passion. They have
played a leadership role in making Philadelphia a stronger
and more vital place, and this cultural community and
the many artists who call Philadelphia home owe them
a world of thanks. And we should, as a community and
as individuals, follow the example they set: encouraging
curiosity; asking tough questions; and having the courage
to follow our convictions. In doing so, we will continue to
make extraordinary things happen, and that is perhaps the
best way to honor their work.
The health of a community can only be as strong as the well-being of its citizens. Over
the past twenty years, the Philadelphia region has faced many challenges: the rise in
homelessness; the lack of both affordable and ADA compliant housing; a growing number
of individuals and families living below the poverty line; a longer-lived aging population;
and the need for access to affordable and nutritious food. Continuingly changing
demographics have contributed to increased demand for services, while local and federal
funding for these programs has declined. Many community-based organizations fill in
the gaps left by city services and provide much needed outreach and support to the most
In keeping with our mission to support organizations that provide direct services to people
who do not ordinarily have access to them, Independence Foundation’s current Human
Services funding agenda focuses on programs that address the following areas:
adequate food and food distribution
affordable housing and access to shelter by homeless persons
services which support independence for people living with disabilities
Independence Foundation supports programs that empower less advantaged residents of
the Philadelphia area to achieve self-sufficiency by providing these most basic of needs.
In addition, over the past two decades, we have funded worthwhile programs focused
on services for the isolated and frail elderly; disadvantaged children and their families,
including women and children affected by domestic violence; women’s reproductive health
issues; individuals suffering from chronic illness and their caregivers; and scholarships/
internships and career training programs for some of the region’s underprivileged youth.
Since 1996, close to $21,000,000 has been granted to community-based organizations
through our Human Services funding stream.
$21 million
has been awarded since 1996 to community-baseD organizations
In 1998 the Independence Foundation saw the value of a young organization’s mission
and, after doing their investigation, had the faith to support Canine Partners for Life.
This began a long and exciting relationship! I remember when representatives from the
Foundation first visited CPL. We hadn’t been able to garner much foundation support
at that time, so to have a foundation visit was incredibly exciting and educational. Their
interest and connection to the work that we did, and their willingness to help the people
that we serve, built our confidence as an organization.
For the past nineteen years the support provided by the Independence Foundation has
gone far above and beyond the actual dollars donated to the organization. The educational
opportunities provided by the Foundation to encourage grantees to grow and improve, the
staff support (whenever you call and have a question someone is there to help), and the
open door policy of the foundation’s staff to meet with and speak to the grantees who may
need guidance has been tremendous. CPL staff, volunteers and board members have all
taken advantage of the many and varied educational opportunities (all free of charge!). No
other foundation has provided these opportunities and they have allowed CPL to develop
and grow into one of the leading assistance dog providers in the world.
and Canine
Partners for
Life - Bringing
to the Lives
of Individuals
Who Live with
Disabilities –
canine partners for life
by Darlene Sullivan
Executive Director/
Thomas & Beck
We have been blessed to receive feedback
from the foundation in both of our feasibility
studies, and Susan was quick to meet with us
when we were brainstorming how to have our
organization and capital campaign become more
visible within Philadelphia and the surrounding
areas. The foundation even hosted a “get to know
CPL” reception to introduce our mission to the
Philadelphia community!
We’ve been honored to have the Independence
Foundation name a number of our puppies over the
years. Those pups have gone on to do great things.
Teddy was placed with a woman named Rebecca
and provided assistance and companionship to
her for many years. Rebecca had Spina Bifida
and utilized a power wheelchair. Teddy assisted
her by retrieving items, opening/closing doors,
paying cashiers, and much more. Susan (named
in Susan’s honor) excelled in health, behavior, and
temperament and went on to become one of our
breeder dogs. Thus far Susan (the four legged)
has had two litters of puppies. The first litter had
seven pups – five became service dogs and two also
became breeder dogs (a sign of excellence). The
second litter had six pups and they are currently still
in their first year of training. Andi went on to become
a Home Companion Dog to a young boy with Autism
and was featured in CPLs promotional video (see
at, Genie became a residential
companion living in an assisted living facility, and
Beck went on to live a long life with a young man with
Aspergers Syndrome as a Home Companion Dog.
And these are only the dogs that the Foundation
has named. The Foundations support has made
it possible for literally hundreds of dogs to bring
independence into the lives of their human partners!
Independence isn’t just a part of this foundations
name. They value the necessity for individuals
who have disabilities to feel, experience, and live
independence in their daily lives and through their
gifts to CPL they have made that possible for some
truly amazing, determined, and grateful graduates of
our program.
Rebecca & Teddy
Charles & Andi
Susan’s puppies
Genie: A residential companion
health & HUman
project home
It would be easy to state that The Independence Foundation has been a leading
philanthropic organization in the Philadelphia area, and no doubt the list of its
accomplishments would be impressive. But the Foundation is so much more, and its
real impact is far deeper – as we at Project HOME can enthusiastically attest.
For the past twenty years, President Susan Sherman, Board Chair Judge Phyllis Beck,
and the entire Board of Directors of Independence Foundation have demonstrated truly
visionary leadership. Together, they developed a collegial model of shared leadership,
and they were persistent in fostering relationships, collaboration, and strategic
connections between organizations and between social issues.
The Independence Foundation was among Project HOME’s earliest supporters. In a
very personal way, the Foundation came to understand and embrace our mission. Like
us, they were able to see beyond the prevailing public sentiment that homelessness
was an intractable urban problem that at best could be managed and policed. By
building strong relationships with us and truly attending to what we were trying to
They have
played a
critical role
in some of the
most amazing
and front-line
efforts to
combat some of
our toughest
social issues
by seeing the
edness of those
issues, and
working strate-
gically and
ly to address
by Sister Mary Scullion
Executive Director
do (including getting to know many of our formerly
homeless residents), they captured the vision that
not only were solutions to homelessness possible,
but what was at stake in this societal crisis were many
interconnected aspects of fundamental community
well-being – health care, housing, education, economic
opportunity – as well as even deeper issues of human
dignity. They affirmed and even strengthened our
growing conviction that in addressing homelessness,
we were in fact enhancing the overall strength and
quality of life for our entire city.
This shared conviction and a common commitment
to core values led to a long-term partnership that was
marked by truly visionary leadership and strategic
investments. Beginning in 1994, the Independence
Foundation provided critical capital and operational
support in a range of areas of Project HOME’s mission,
all of which were vital in expanding our work and
deepening our effectiveness. The specific grants were
all tremendously important, including the support
that led to the opening of our Rowan Homes that
empowered 42 homeless families to attain permanent,
supportive housing and connections to education,
health care, and employment opportunities.
Several years later, understanding the connection
between housing and healthcare, Independence
Foundation played a leadership role in our development
of the Stephen Klein Wellness Center in north central
Philadelphia. Their investment in the Center’s
infrastructure and staffing enabled us to expand
health care to Project HOME residents and community
members in the 19121 ZIP code – the second poorest
in Philadelphia.
Most recently, the Independence Foundation made a
generous capital gift that helped in the building of 94
units of permanent housing in Chinatown at our Francis
House of Peace.
In addition to specific major gifts, the Foundation
has been a deeply engaged partner who time and
time again responded to specific urgent needs, often
difficult to fund. Whether it was a new van for our
residents in recovery; a vehicle for street outreach;
gifts for the holidays; support for individuals and
families who experienced violence; special investments
for educational internships, GED classes, and after
school programs; or countless unrestricted gifts that
helped us meet ongoing operations, the Independence
Foundation continually acted with a firm grasp on the
comprehensive nature of our mission and a constant
willingness to make sure that all the interrelated
aspects of our work were able to succeed.
We at Project HOME are overwhelmingly grateful for the
total investment of over $2 million by the Independence
Foundation since 1994. But even more important
than the dollar amount is the amazing leadership of
Susan and Judge Beck, rooted in their deep personal
conviction and compassion. They have literally
deepened and enriched our work in innumerable ways.
Independence Foundation has been instrumental in
transforming countless lives, strengthening families,
and turning around struggling neighborhoods. But they
have also fundamentally changed the ethos of this
city. Without their vision and leadership, the City of
Philadelphia would not have one of the lowest rates of
homelessness in the nation. Without their invaluable
friendship and partnership, Project HOME would not
have succeeded nearly as well. And without their hard
work and perseverance over two decades, our City and
region would not manifest the spirit of Brotherly Love
and Sisterly Affection as richly as it does today.
Beginning in 1996, Independence Foundation formalized its initiative of supporting
nonprofit public interest legal organizations in the Philadelphia region. This initiative has
allowed these groups to continue to address civic legal issues confronting people from
diverse populations, including immigrants, the indigent, the elderly, the disabled, the ill
and the homeless, as well as people living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2000, the Foundation began awarding multi-year general operating grants to select
legal aid organizations. These grants provide core operational support for administrative
capacity and the direct service programs of those agencies that deliver critical legal
The Foundation believes that those on the front lines of important issues can best
decide where and how to influence change, whether it is an issue for a system or one
person. The Foundation continues to admire and respect the dedicated work of all public
interest attorneys, who are motivated by a calling to help others, not billable hours. This
appreciation led the Foundation to create the Public Interest Law Fellowships, to
encourage young attorneys just starting out to pursue careers in the public interest, and
the Senior Attorney Sabbaticals, to reward long-term public interest lawyers with the
opportunity to have time away from this challenging work.
Over the past twenty years through these three initiatives, Independence Foundation has
provided over $22.5 million in support of public interest legal services.
$22.5 million
has been awarded to support public interest legal services
womens law project
The Independence Foundation, under the leadership of Judge Phyllis Beck and Susan
Sherman, has changed the face of public interest legal organizations in Philadelphia.
Early on, the Foundations board recognized the need to develop a cadre of public
interest lawyers at a time when student debt was out of control, loan forgiveness
was not on the table, and budget cutbacks for legal services were in full swing. They
created the Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowships. Beyond the
extraordinary help these talented young lawyers have provided for the individual
organizations and clients, a community was fostered among them by the Independence
Foundation that helped improve knowledge and relationships among the many
organizations that recieved fellowships. The best part is that so many of them have
stayed in Philadelphia legal services.
David Cohen was an Independence Fellow with Women’s Law Project from 2001-2003.
We were able to hire him for three years. He has gone on to become a full professor at
Drexel University’s Kline School of Law and teaches about some of the cases he worked
does not impose
its ideas on
grantees, it
does not make
jump through
instead, it
trusts us to do
our work.
by Carol Tracy
Executive Director
on with us. He has continued to co-counsel cases with
us and this year he is back working with us during his
sabbatical year!
But that is not all. Independence Foundation knows
their grantees. They carefully select grantees and then
trust us to do the work we ask them to fund. They know
that we have ongoing needs but also have to respond
to emerging threats so they provide us with general
operating grants.
But that is not all. They have recognized the limited
opportunities we have for professional development and
have organized a broad range of programs to expand our
organizational capacities.
But that is not all. They recently organized a leadership
transition group and invited participants from arts and
culture grantees to public interest grantees. I was lucky
enough to be in the first cohort. Interacting with like-
minded people with entirely different skills and talents
set my brain on fire.
The Independence Foundation is unique. As an entity it
has gone to great lengths to understand the community
it lives in; it has carefully and thoughtfully selected
organizations to fund; it has increased the capacity
of its grantees through fellowships and professional
development opportunities; it has brought like-minded
people with different backgrounds, talents and skills
together. The Independence Foundation does not
impose its ideas on grantees, it does not make grantees
jump through unrealistic hoops; instead, it fundamentally
trusts us to do our work.
Phyllis and Susan are a formidable duo: they have bold
vision, understand genuine engagement, and last but not
least, know how to throw a great party!
The centerpiece of this commitment has been
the Independence Foundation Public Interest
Law Fellowships program. Created in 1996,
the fellowship program is the only regionally
concentrated program of its kind. It has had a
direct impact on the lives of thousands of people
who would otherwise have been unable to secure
access to the justice system. Moreover, the legal
services and public interest law community in the
Philadelphia region received an infusion of new
energy and new ideas from these young lawyers
at a time when cutbacks in governmental funding
had thinned the professional ranks at many legal
services organizations. Since the creation of this
program, Fellows have been actively involved
in many areas, including working to protect the
rights of immigrants, low income women, migrant
farmworkers, the disabled, those suffering from
HIV/AIDS, abused and neglected children, homeless
veterans, and senior citizens, as well as working
to improve the legal systems that impact low
income and disadvantaged people, while educating
members of these communities so they can better
protect themselves against infringements on their
legal rights.
Through these fellowships, the Foundation funds
the compensation and cost of employment benefits
for talented young lawyers who have dedicated
themselves to service in the public interest. In
addition, each fellowship grant includes assistance
for the repayment of their often substantial
educational loans. Through these fellowships, the
Foundation enables some of the best and brightest
law school graduates to come to the Philadelphia
area and obtain employment with organizations
based in this region that provide free legal services
for those who would otherwise find themselves
without recourse.
As part of the application process, each potential
fellow develops a public interest law project he
or she would pursue if granted a fellowship. The
project must be well-developed with defined goals,
and aim at meeting a proven need for service in the
target client community. The Foundation requires
that the focus of all Fellowship work be on the
direct representation of disadvantaged clients.
Although the Foundation recognizes the value of
broad based policy development, the Foundation
is more interested in supporting direct legal
services for those who cannot otherwise obtain the
professional assistance they need to navigate the
complicated judicial and administrative systems
that affect their lives on a daily basis.
Each Fellow must also secure the sponsorship of
a public interest law or legal services organization
For two decades,
Independence Foundation
has been committed to
supporting free legal
services for poor and
disadvantaged residents
of the Philadelphia
based in the Philadelphia region that will employ the
Fellow for the term of the Fellowship, which is usually
two years. Sponsors make a real commitment to
the training and supervision of the Fellow and to
the Fellow’s project. This requirement seeks to
insure that young lawyers emerge from program well
prepared with the skills they will need no matter
what form of legal service they choose to provide in
the future.
The impact of the Fellowship program continues
long after each Fellowship ends. Approximately
sixty percent of all Fellows continue to practice
exclusively in public interest law, many of them
continuing to serve in the Philadelphia region. Of
those who move into other arenas, most continue
to be deeply involved in pro bono work and bar
association sponsored public interest activities. The
ongoing commitment of these former Fellows is the
legacy of the program, as is the mark they have made
on the lives of those they have served. Since 1996,
Independence Foundation has invested over $7.6
million in this program.
$7.6 million
the fellowship
program is the
only regionally
program of its kind.
It has had a direct
impact on the lives
of thousands of
people who would
otherwise have
been unable to
secure access to the
justice system.
public interest law
friends of farmworkers
The Independence Foundation – especially its leaders Susan Sherman and Judge Phyllis
Beck – has played a fundamental role in the development of my career as a public
interest lawyer in Philadelphia. I know that I owe much of my success over the years to
them. I went to law school in 2001 with a public interest career in mind. I was in awe
of the amazing public interest legal community in Philadelphia. I knew I wanted to be a
part of the work of this community, but I also knew that the jobs were limited and highly
competitive. If I were to succeed, I would be one of the lucky ones.
During my last year of law school, I was selected by HIAS as their candidate for a Public
Interest Law Fellowship with the Independence Foundation. The fellowship process
was stressful and intimidating. As I prepared for the interview for the Independence
Foundation fellowship, everyone told me that I needed to be ready to answer tough
questions from the board. I did not know any of them at the time, but I understood that
if they didn’t like my answers to their tough questions then I would not get the fellowship.
No pressure.
me to raise
money in new
and different
ways, and they
me with
their special
version of
tough love
when I had to
make difFIcult
by Meredith Rapkin
Executive Director
I was nervous at the interview, and they did indeed ask tough questions.
I did my best to recite my practiced responses, but it was a challenging
experience – and I was stronger for having gone through it. Happily, I was
awarded a two year legal fellowship at HIAS in the 2004 class of fellows. I
was thrilled and honored to be selected for the fellowship but I was totally
unaware that it was the beginning of what has grown to be more than a
decade of support from the Independence Foundation.
When I was selected as the new Executive Director of Friends of
Farmworkers in 2011, my relationship with IF took on new meaning. I am
one of the few Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellows who
has become the Executive Director of one of the legal aid organizations
supported by the Foundation. Where they once supported me as a new
lawyer, they were now supporting me as a leader, and also supporting
the organization I lead. They challenged me to raise money in new and
different ways, and they supported me with their special version of tough
love when I had to make difficult management decisions. Several of our
fellowship candidates were selected for fellowships, playing a critical role
in the ongoing health and the growth of Friends of Farmworkers over the
last five years. They have also continued to push me to move beyond
my comfort zone so that I continue to grow and develop as a lawyer
and as a leader in this community, urging me to continue to focus on
professional development opportunities even when my schedule feels
full. I had the honor of being selected as a member of the pilot group of
IF’s new Leadership Cohort Conversations about Change where I had the
opportunity to work through various organizational challenges with leaders
from a variety of industries in Philadelphia. It was a rare and valuable
opportunity for me.
The Independence Foundation has also had a less obvious impact on me.
They continue to assemble a remarkable group of leaders in both staff and
board positions. I have no idea how they do this so consistently, but they
maintain a rotating group of hardworking, thoughtful and inspirational
people working with and for IF. I have been personally and professionally
inspired by so many of the people in the IF family. Many of them have
influenced my personal approach to the law and justice.
In the early days of my relationship with the Independence Foundation,
both Susan Sherman and Judge Beck scared me to death. I was a law
student trying to follow my dreams. They were smart, tough women who
did not mince words. They were serious and accomplished. They held
the key to my success and I was not sure I would be able to meet their
expectations. Thirteen years later, I am happy to say that my relationship
with them, and with IF has been one of the most important of my career.
The fear I once held has been replaced by respect, admiration and
gratitude for these amazing, kind, and powerful women.
Thank you, Independence Foundation, for investing your energies in
me, HIAS, Friends of Farmworkers and all the immigrant communities
we represent. You are an inspiration to many, and through your wise
leadership and strategic choices, you have significantly advanced the
cause of justice in Philadelphia and far beyond.
Thank you,
for investing
your energies
in me, HIAS,
Friends of
and all the
we represenT.
Independence Foundation believes that senior
attorneys in the public interest law sector, and
indirectly their clients, would benefit from the
opportunity for a hiatus from this demanding
work. To that end, in 2008, the Foundation
created a two month sabbatical fellowship
for senior attorneys with over ten years in the
An applicant must be a senior lawyer from a
public interest law organization in the five-
county Philadelphia region that is a current
or former Independence Foundation grantee.
Applicants should have spent a minimum of
ten years of full-time consecutive service in
the public interest law sector and have taken
no other sabbatical within the previous five
years. Applicants must commit to a minimum
of two years working in the sector following the
The duration of each sabbatical will be two
months and may be used for travel, study,
connection to peer organizations, or other
purposes as described by the applicant.
The fellowship will provide a maximum of
$20,000 inclusive of salary reimbursement
and associated travel (capped at $10,000).
The organization sponsoring an applicant is
required to provide health care coverage andall
other normal benefits during the sabbatical.
Attorneys with 10 years
in the public interest
sector benet from a
Karen C. Buck, Senior Attorney Sabbatical, New Zealand
Forty thousand miles,
four countries and seven
meetings with leaders in
law, government and aging.
In winter 2016, I had the
extraordinary opportunity
to learn and share best
practices in access to
justice and elder justice in
far corners of the world:
Iceland, Japan, Australia and
New Zealand.
senior attorney
regional housing legal services
The Independence Foundation (the “Foundation”) has provided unmatched leadership
and support to our communities. I have had the privilege of working with the
Foundations leadership, specifically Susan Sherman and Judge Beck, over the past two
decades in multiple ways. I have worked with the Foundation leadership as Board Chair
for the Pennsylvania Health Law Project; as counsel for Project HOME; and, as Executive
Director of Regional Housing Legal Services (“RHLS”).
The Independence Foundation was the first foundation to provide grant support to the
Pennsylvania Health Law Project when it was created twenty years ago. As the Board
Chair, I saw that the Foundation’s support provided critically-needed seed funding
and also legitimized the organization and led the way for other supporters to make
meaningful gifts.
needed seed
and also
legitimized the
and led the
way for other
to make
by Mark Schwartz
Executive Director
A hopeful family opening a door to their brand new home.
Project H.O.M.E.
Project HOME
RHLS has represented Project HOME for over twenty-five
years. During this time, the Independence Foundation
provided support to founders Sister Mary Scullion
and Joan McConnon that helped to grow a grassroots
program into a nationally recognized organization
that will make Philadelphia one of the first major
cities to effectively end street homelessness. With the
Foundations support, Project HOME has grown the
ability to harness significant amounts of private support,
securing this vital organization’s long-term viability.
Regional Housing Legal Services
RHLS has benefitted from the Foundation’s support
through generous grants and through participation in
both the Public Interest Law Fellowships and Senior
Attorney Sabbaticals. The Foundation has played
a visionary role with the creation of both of these
The Public Interest Law Fellowships have helped to
repopulate the legal services sector in Philadelphia with
young, bright attorneys, many of whom have continued
their careers in legal services. For those who have moved
on, most have stayed connected to the public interest
I personally participated in the Foundation’s Senior
Attorney Sabbatical program in the summer of 2016.
In addition to a needed opportunity to “chill out,” the
sabbatical gave my staff the opportunity to demonstrate
that they were able to lead the organization in my
absence. Most importantly, the sabbatical provided the
opportunity for me to apply to be General Manager of the
Philadelphia Phillies. Unfortunately, I was not successful
in this endeavor, but was able to return to RHLS with a
renewed energy.
The Independence Foundation has provided integral
leadership in Philadelphia in many sectors. RHLS is so
grateful for their continued support and we look forward
to seeing the amazing work the Foundation will do in the
coming years.
healtH care
$28,300,000 from 1996 through 2016. These grants
were used to support nurse-managed health clinics or
programs to care for the underserved or for innovative
nursing education programs.
$500,000 between 2002 and 2006. This money was
spent by the Independence Foundation to purchase
(1) an electronic practice management and medical
record software system and (2) the related hardware
and connectivity services to operate the system in seven
Independence Foundation funded nurse-managed health
$12.9 MIION
$12.9 million from the early 1980s through 1993.
A total of $3,900,000 was awarded for scholarship
endowments to schools of nursing and a total of
$9 million was awarded to establish Independence
Foundation Chairs of Nursing in nine academic health-
center based schools of nursing. (Case Western Reserve
University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University,
New York University, Rush University, University of
Rochester, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt
University, and Yale University.)
$4.2 MIION
$4.2 million between 1993 and 1995. This funding
was for student scholarship aid and the establishment
of Independence Foundation Chairs in community
nursing in four Philadelphia area schools: University of
Pennsylvania, LaSalle University, Community College of
Philadelphia, and Temple University.
Since the early 1980s, approximately
$46,614,005 has been awarded for
chairs in nursing, student scholarship
endowments, grants to support nurse-
managed health centers and related
infrastructure, and innovative nursing
education programs.
Since the early 1990s, the Independence
Foundation provided funding to a number
of nurse-managed health care centers and
programs that provided comprehensive
primary health care and health promotion
services to underserved populations through
its Nurse-Managed Health Care Initiative.
From 1996 through 2014, Independence
Foundation awarded over $26.5 million in
support of nurse-managed health centers
(NMHCs), scholarship and intern programs,
and a membership organization of nurse-
managed health centers. In addition,
the Foundation funded $500,000 for
the purchase of an electronic practice
management and software system for use in
the centers. This initiative provided general
operating support for nurse-managed health
centers that offered primary care, family
planning, and community-based health
promotion services; programs and projects
that support the nurse-managed centers
in meeting their sustainability challenges,
such as the Regional (later National)
Nursing Centers’ Consortium and the data
infrastructure project; and an internship
program to prepare minority nurses for
research and community health nursing
leadership positions.
Support from the Independence Foundation
was particularly critical to these centers
as they worked towards obtaining
designation as a Federally Qualified Health
Center (FQHC) or FQHC look-alike, either
of which would entitle them to a higher
level of cost-based reimbursement. Also
important for the centers was the work of
the Regional/National Nursing Centers’
Consortium in educating the public and
policy makers about nurse-managed centers
and advocating for health policy changes
regarding credentialing, prescription
privileges, and favorable reimbursement
Established in 1996, the Regional Nursing
Centers’ Consortium has grown dramatically
from its founding membership of 11 local
centers, to a membership of over 200 centers
nationally and internationally, and from a
staff of two to a staff of over 20 full-time
employees. With organizational growth and
expansion outside of the Philadelphia region,
the RNCC changed its name to the National
Nursing Centers’ Consortium and became an
affiliate of the Philadelphia Health Management
Corporation in 2002. By 2005, the NNCC
had successfully expanded its funding base
from one primary funder—the Independence
Foundation—to multiple sources of funding.
Independence Foundation recognized
that access to data aggregated across
nursing centers was critical to the NNCC
for demonstrating the impact of the nursing
centers, for serving as a catalyst for health
care policy changes, for obtaining multi-
source funding for centers, and for monitoring
the quality of health care across nurse-
managed centers. From 1995 through 2000,
the Foundation made a series of grants to
establish a central repository for the NMHCs
and to develop a data collection system
that would be used by all the Independence
Foundation funded centers that provided
primary care. In 2001, recognizing the centers’
need for a software system that would facilitate
practice management, including scheduling
appointments and billing, and allow for the
capture of primary care health data, the
Foundations Board of Directors committed
$500,000 for the purchase of an electronic
practice management and medical record
software system and the required connectivity
and hardware for its implementation. This
was at least two years before Electronic Health
Records (EHR) were designated a federal
priority. Implementation of the system in seven
Independence Foundation funded nurse-
managed centers began in January 2003.
Use of the electronic health record facilitated
the centers’ participation in the Pennsylvania
Chronic Care Model program by enabling
them to document the achievement of health
outcomes, which entitled them to supplemental
third party reimbursement for clients with
specific chronic illnesses.
From 1996 through 2009, Independence
Foundation made annual grants to Community
College of Philadelphia (CCP) in support of
the Independence Foundation Nursing Interns
program. Designed to improve minority
THE Foundation
belIEVES that high quality,
comprehensive primary
care results in better
health, improved quality
of life AND A reduction in
health disparities
nurses’ access to research centers, this
program was offered competitively to three
CCP students who were dually enrolled in the
bachelors nursing program at Jefferson or
Drexel universities, taking additional courses to
accelerate their progress through a bachelors
program, upon graduation from CCP. In return
for partial tuition support and a stipend,
interns assisted faculty in development and
evaluation of community-based programs for
underserved populations. At the conclusion of
the program, 35 CCP students had participated.
The program ended in 2008 when National
Institutes of Health support for programs
to attract undergraduate minority health
professional students into research was no
longer available.
In addition to its ongoing work to promote the
growth and recognition of nurse-managed
health centers, the NNCC worked strategically
to ensure that advanced practice nurses were
included in the Prescription for Pennsylvania
(of which the Chronic Care Model was a
component), to obtain formal recognition
for nurse-managed health centers in the
Affordable Care Act, to secure a source a
federal funding for NMHCs, and to monitor
progress nationally in the number of managed
care organizations’ that credential nurse
practitioners. During the 2006 through 2013
period, Independence Foundation grants to
the NMHCs filled funding gaps that existed
while newly designated FQHC nurse-managed
centers awaited the beginning of cost-
based reimbursement and expanded their
infrastructure to accommodate more patients
or introduce new services, such as dental
care. As both the NNCC and the NMHCs
grew more successful in securing additional
sources of funding, the percentage of their
overall revenues contributed by Independence
Foundation dramatically decreased.
In 2015, Independence Foundation restructured
this funding stream into its current Health Care
Initiative. In keeping with the Foundation’s
belief that high quality, comprehensive primary
care and related services result in better
health, improved quality of life, reduction
in health disparities, and lower costs to the
health care system, the Foundation supports
programs that improve accessibility to these
services. In addition, the Foundation is
committed to improving the health care of
older adults, who represent the fastest growing
segment of the population and account for a
disproportionate share of overall health care
costs, through educational preparation of the
nursing workforce and innovative clinical and
community health programs.
La Comunidad Hispaña
family practice & counseling network
I could simply say that we have been funded by the Independence Foundation for
wonderful projects since 1994 and that those projects included renovation of a new
health center, building of a playground, expanding a health center, care management, a
social worker and even a quality care nurse. But to say only that leaves out the marvelous
story of the beginning of our relationship with the Foundation.
So our story goes like this. Our first health center opened in July 1992. In order to staff the
center with experienced Nurse Practitioners (NPs), we contracted with the University of
Pennsylvania School of Nursing. This resulted in three NPs for our new practice. One day
I received a call from the School asking if we would host a visit from the School’s Board of
Overseers and would we pick them up and return them to the University. For one thing, I
had no idea what a Board of Overseers was and secondly, I was a bit put out by having to
transport the board to and from the center as our van was intended to support patients.
I wondered why they could not simply take a taxi. But I was not someone to turn down
a request from my alma mater, so off the van went to pick up three women who were
strangers to me.
And, that was
the beginning
of our long
with the
That was
our second
health center
and today it
is probably
for an
3,000 patients
we treat at our
now combined
East Falls site.
by Donna L. Torrisi,
Executive Vice
As it turned out, the three women who comprised the
Board of Overseers were quite impressed with our little
clinic and the work we were doing. Since I was smiling
inside taking great pride in their praise, I noted that I
liked these Board Women.
Two weeks passed during which time I was searching
for funds to renovate our second center. Though I had
never heard of the Independence Foundation and
had no idea that any of them had a big connection
to someplace very important, I wrote each of them a
very short note. I can almost remember exactly what
I said, “Thank you for visiting us, I am so pleased that
you came and liked what you saw and by the way, I am
looking for $180,000 to renovate our second center, in
the event that you have any thoughts about resources.
Another two weeks passed and I received a call from
one of the Board Women. Her name was Phyllis Beck. I
later learned that she was a very important person and
a Superior Court Judge in the state. I am fairly certain
I remember her exact words: “Oh Donna, I just called
to tell you that I have the money you are looking for.
“What money?”, I asked. “The $180,000”, she replied.
“How can that be?”, I asked. “I am on the board of the
Independence Foundation and our board met and
decided to give you the money”. “How can that be?”, I
retorted, “Don’t you need me to write a grant?” “We
used your letter as the grant”, said the Judge. And, to
this day, 23 years later, that was by far the easiest grant
I have ever written. And, that was the beginning of our
long relationship with the Independence Foundation.
That was our second health center and today it is
probably responsible for an additional 3,000 patients
we treat at our now combined East Falls site. Aside from
our federal grant, there is no one or no foundation that
has remained in our corner with such longevity, funding
us every year. Needless to say, we are immensely
grateful to the Independence Foundation for continuing
to believe in us and the work we do.
In July of 2017, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary on
the grounds of the Abbottsford Community where we
were born. On that occasion, we also celebrated Susan
Sherman for her amazing support through time. The
Independence Foundation will forever be a cornerstone
of the Family Practice & Counseling Network.
Since 1997, Independence Foundation has enhanced
its grantmaking with creative initiatives to support
grantees. These initiatives are built upon adult
learning principles; people learn best when the topic
is relevant and there is a need to know; and, adults
learn best through peer interaction.
The first of these initiatives was created for grantees
in the Nurse-Managed Health Care Initiative. Called
“Conversations with…, these sessions gathered
principals from approximately 50-60 nurse-
managed health centers several times a year to hear
relevant regional and national leaders speak about
timely topics. Each “Conversation” was a one hour
presentation of a personal story with lessons learned
by the invited peer leader, followed by a one hour
group dialogue covering careers, experiences in
leadership and pragmatic approaches to leadership
issues. Speakers were distinguished, locally and
nationally, in the areas of nursing, law, and health
and human services, and included judges, cabinet
officials, foundation CEOs, community health leaders,
deans, politicians and policy makers. Through 2005,
Independence Foundation, in partnership with the
National Nursing Centers Consortium, hosted more
than three dozen “Conversations with…” events, each
enhanced by a welcoming atmosphere and good food,
honoring the efforts these grantees are making at the
front line of change.
From 2001 - 2016, the Foundation dedicated staff
to facilitate peer led workshops and provide other
direct support to grantees. At the core of this effort
were sessions which utilized skilled grantees to lead
discussions with their peers about experiences and
strategies in informal, conversational gatherings.
Topics have included fundraising, board development,
professional development, publicity and public
relations, and organizational management. In
addition to the larger workshops, the Foundation
hosted smaller brown-bag lunches for open
discussion of nonprofit issues.
Grantee feedback about the Foundation’s capacity-
building efforts emphasized that the workshops and
brown-bags have provided:
An important opportunity to network, connect, and
share ideas with other nonprofit organizations.
A supportive and open environment that engenders
a sense of community among participants.
New information and ideas that have led to
implementation of changes in practices and
techniques at both the organizational and board
In 2016, the Foundation began its latest capacity-
building initiative, the Conversations About
ChangeLeadership Cohort. The dynamic, cross-
sector cohort is comprised of three key members
from each of nine grantee organizations who are
investigating mission-driven change. The group is
convened monthly, over the course of the calendar
year, to explore the opportunities and challenges
around transformation for each cohort organization.
This Leadership Cohort addresses fundamental
questions that will help to propel participants toward
strategic alterations that lead to transformation.
The foundation is very
courteous and responsive,
and accommodating to any
needs that may arise in
the process.
In 2016, Independence Foundation
commissioned Wolf Brown to do an
organizational 360. Heres some of what
people are saying:
been great
learning and
They want the artist
to realize his or
her goals and are
not interested
in interfering or
imposing an agenda in
the process
They excel AT
nonprofits or
initiatives that
can collaborate
The peer led workshops
are an amazing resource
to the community
Wish all
funders would
be like them!
is one of the
most helpful
I can’t stress how much
of a boon the Arts
Fellowships are to
emerging artists
My personal interaction
with Independence
Foundation has been
It is a great process
and excellent
Absolutely direct
and forthright
about strategies
and processes
The Foundation’s regular
convening of grantees
is unparalleled and
incredibly helpful
for grantees
They work
continually to make
their processes
more ecient and
their communications
We are very grateful
for the openness
of the Foundation
particularly during a
period of significant
transition for our
has a broad
of what is going
on in the local
2016 giving
grants paid by program area in most recently completed grant year
Arts Fellowships
Pig Iron
de Latinos
health care initiative
LAW fellowships
human services
legal aid
Practice and
Service Center
Of Philadelphia
Offices at the Bellevue
200 South Broad Street
Suite 1101
Philadelphia, PA 19102