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Governor Wolf touring the William Way Center's archives. Photo courtesy of PAcast
Governor Wolf touring the William Way Center's archives. Photo courtesy of PAcast

William Way LGBT Community Center highlights plans after being awarded $2.5 million grant

The RACP grant will go toward renovations to help fix and improve the center’s building.

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During a press conference earlier today, it was announced that the William Way LGBT Community Center was awarded a $2.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to complete the second phase of its major renovation project. 

Governor Tom Wolf, joined two representatives from the William Way LGBT Center, as well as state and local leaders, to highlight the grant that was awarded last fall.  

"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. 

He added, "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 LGBTQIA+ Pennsylvanians."

Key parts of the renovation plan include improving ADA access, new fire stairs and elevators, an art gallery, and a catering kitchen and cafe. The cafe will be used for job creation and training. Other components will cover repairs and basic facilities like toilets. 

The center received a $1 million RACP grant in 2019 to complete the first part of its renovations. RACP is a Commonwealth grant program that is given to projects that have “a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.

“We are grateful to Governor Wolf, state Senator 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,” Bartlett added. 

William Way has served as a community center for Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA+ community since the 1970s. After renting various spaces for 20 years, the center has been housed in its current location since 1997. 

The center provides numerous programs to meet the needs of the community. This includes health services, such as Thrivers for seniors and peer counseling; employment opportunities; and recreational activities, like a book club and art gallery. 

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