April 16, 2024

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PHILADELPHIA–Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell announced a call for interest for a new entrepreneurship-in-residence program that will provide local creators and entrepreneurs room and resources to run a business at a City rec center, in exchange for public programming, including mentoring and business exposure for teens and young adults. 
Making Space: Reimaging Recreation is a new program that will fill unused space in recreation centers with local creatives, entrepreneurs and small business owners focused on giving back to youth and the community. 
With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Making Space is a partnership between PPR and REC Philly, a Philadelphia-based creative incubator and agency. Additional support will be provided by the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. The program is part of Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell’s vision to reimagine recreation and bring innovation to the City’s recreation centers.
With over 159 recreation centers, Philadelphia recreation centers are community hubs that house a diverse range of programming, from camps and clubs to sports and crafts. Many of the larger recreation centers have unused space that currently does not house programs. Making Space allows for this space to be occupied by creative makers who can provide mentorship and business training to young people. 
“Making Space will transform some rec centers into the nexus of community space, small business development, and hands-on life skills for youth. Our recreation centers can be places where innovation and creativity meet. They can be the right environment for the next big idea, providing the necessary inspiration and knowledge to make things happen. I’m grateful to the Knight Foundation, REC Philly, and Commerce for helping us make this vision a reality,” Lovell said.
“Public spaces are critical places for people to gather and connect. To ensure continued success, these spaces must evolve in order to meet the needs of communities,” said Ellen Hwang, director of Knight Foundation’s Philadelphia program. “Making Spaces is an opportunity to repurpose our recreation centers, a key asset and resource in Philadelphia,  and use them to empower and engage our community in an innovative and meaningful way.”
“I’m extremely proud of REC Philly’s partnership with PPR and the work we are doing to bring this project to fruition. At its core, Making Space is about creating resources and pathways for our city’s genius to shine. When I think about our various neighborhoods and zip codes of Philadelphia, I know that talent and genius is evenly distributed; however, opportunity is not. Programs like these are a step in the right direction to ensuring every entrepreneur in our city has access to the support they need to be successful, and transform their own communities for the better,” said Will Toms, Co-founder & Visionary of REC Philly.
Entrepreneurs in the Making Space program will benefit from the Commerce department, which will provide technical training, ongoing mentorship, and coaching. 
“Philadelphia’s entrepreneurs and creative makers are bright, energetic visionaries,” said Dawn Summerville, City of Philadelphia Commerce Deputy Director. “This unique partnership with recreation centers to build and grow their businesses can inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs while enhancing the lifeline of our economy.”
Entrepreneurs who would like to have their existing businesses or business ideas considered must submit an application, which will be due by October 7, 2022. The applications will be reviewed by the City, with input from an advisory committee that includes:
The first round of finalists is expected to be selected and announced in November 2022. Each finalist will receive a $1,500 award to support their idea plus business coaching and consulting courses. The finalists will then be invited to submit a final proposal in early 2023, with the winners and rec centers selected and announced in spring of 2023. 
Selected, winning entrepreneurs will receive access to business-ready space and additional support. Between $25,000-$75,000, based on needs, will be allocated to outfit each space, made possible by Knight Foundation. 
More information about the program and the application is available online. Translations of the website and application are available via a plugin. 
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. In 2017, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, set about implementing the park system’s first strategic plan: Our Path to 2020 and Beyond. As a result, PPR is undertaking a period of historic change, setting the department on a course to become a modern, equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system. Visit us at www.phila.gov/parksandrec, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
We are social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at kf.org and follow @knightfdn on social media.


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