$2.5 Million Awarded for Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center

William Way LGBT Community CenterPennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf touring the archives at to the William Way LGBT Community Center. (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Governor Tom Wolf joined state and local leaders yesterday to highlight a $2.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant awarded to the William Way LGBT Community Center for phase two of its major renovation project. The funds, awarded last fall, will be used for upgrades and renovations to the rear two-thirds of the building​, which have fallen into disrepair.

“The William Way LGBT Community Center is an anchor of the Philadelphia community, serving more than 15,000 unique visitors each year from all backgrounds and walks of life,” said Gov. Wolf. “Their walls provide a safe, welcoming space for residents to gather, learn, and grow together. My administration is proud to support that legacy and contribute to the next chapter of growth at a time when our nation is experiencing heightened hate speech and violence against the LGBTQIA+ community. Grants like this one improve our neighborhoods and cities by creating spaces that are not just safe, but welcoming and affirming to LGBTQ​IA+ Pennsylvanians.”

During his visit, the governor toured the existing center to see firsthand the key components of the renovation plans, which include:

  • improving ADA access to the existing building
  • demolishing and replacing the rear wings
  • creating a highly flexible space, as well as new toilet/support facilities
  • new fire stair/elevator core(s)
  • a column-free event space for 300 people
  • catering kitchen and cafe for job creation and training
  • rentable meeting facilities
  • flexible private and spacious coworking areas
  • a new dedicated art gallery
  • a computer lounge suitable for hybrid programs

The center previously received an initial RACP grant of $1 million in 2019 to complete renovations and HVAC upgrades on the front one-third of the building.

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“We are grateful to Governor Wolf, ​state Sen​ator Nikil Saval, Mayor Jim Kenney, Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Dwight Evans, state Representatives Brian Sims, Jordan Harris, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Mary Isaacson, and Councilmember Mark Squilla for going to bat for the center again,” said Executive Director Chris Bartlett. “They recognize that William Way is an important center for LGBTQIA+ community and culture throughout the city and the surrounding region, and now the world through online programming.  We’re thrilled to receive these resources to renovate and expand the center in a way that will reflect Philadelphia’s role as the leading city for LGBTQIA+ community and culture in the United States.”

The center offers a host of free programs including senior services, peer counseling, holiday meals, an art gallery, activity clubs, and other recreational, health, fitness, employment, and educational opportunities for residents, now both in person and virtually. Currently, however, a leaky roof, wet basement, outdated building systems, and a confusing layout severely limit the center’s ability to operate efficiently and draw newcomers into the building.

RACP is a commonwealth grant​ program to support critical expansion projects, provide opportunities for job creation and employment training, and community development and revitalization.

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