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Project Mission Statement

The William Way LGBT Community Center is embarking on a daring and visionary project
to transform and rebuild our existing community center
into an expansive, inclusive, colorful, and unabashedly queer space
for all LGBTQIA+ individuals to gather, celebrate, learn, and find life-giving support.

Click the questions below to learn more

Why is William Way undertaking a capital campaign now?

William Way has made a lot of  improvements to the building over the years, but with the challenges presented in an almost 200-year-old building, Center leadership has realized that it’s time for bigger, more substantial renovations that will not only address the existing building’s challenges but will reimagine the physical space overall to better implement and grow our programs.

How is Center leadership engaged in the campaign?

The Center’s leadership team is fully engaged in achieving the campaign’s goals and is working to maximize their capacity while keeping the Center running as normal throughout this process. The Center’s Executive Director, Chris Bartlett, serves as the project’s chief fundraiser and is supported by Campaign Associate Renee Gilinger, as well as the Center’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Development Officer. The Center’s Board of Directors also serves as strategic advisors, fundraisers, and connectors for this project, providing valuable input and financial oversight, and all members have made a personally significant financial contribution to the project.

Is there a Campaign Committee? What role do they play?

William Way engages both a Steering Committee and a Campaign Committee to support this effort. Center leadership worked with community leaders, influencers, and connectors to build a diverse and representative group that would accurately reflect the needs and interests of diverse LGBTQIA+ communities and provide essential guidance on this monumental effort. All committee members commit to making a personally significant gift towards the campaign.

The Steering Committee is a small group of business and community leaders who serve as the strategic leaders of the campaign, providing strategy and financial oversight, advising on discrete projects and initiatives, and working directly with Center leadership to drive the campaign goals forward.

The Campaign Committee (in formation) is a larger group of individuals representing a diverse range of ages, races, and gender identities who serve as promoters and connectors, spreading the word about the campaign throughout their networks, and hosting events such as house parties and Center tours to get people excited.

What will specifically happen to the current building?

The front one-third of the building is considered historically significant and will be renovated and updated while preserving its original features. The work includes installing a new HVAC system to replace the existing non-functioning unit, improving indoor air quality, and making security upgrades. The majority of this work has been completed thanks to a $1M grant from the Commonwealth of PA, and generous funding from foundations and individual donors. The remainder of the work will happen with the major renovations and expansion of the Center.

The rear two-thirds of the building is in disrepair, with two wings that do not connect and render many spaces inaccessible or even unreachable. Therefore, this section will be fully demolished, and we will build a brand-new tower in its place. This tower will be connected to the historic front third of the building by a beautiful atrium that will fill the space with light.  

  • Proposed Amenities: Cafe and Catering Kitchen for events and job training/employment opportunities, “Zoom Room” for hosting virtual and hybrid meetings, flexible small, medium, and large meeting rooms and event spaces for William Way staff, visitors, and tenants.
  • Programs and Populations Served: Elders (group activities, meals, health care advocacy), trans/gender non-conforming individuals (financial literacy, job readiness, support groups), recovery meetings, peer counseling, LGBT Archives, arts and culture programming, youth through our partnership with Attic Youth Center, affordable event space for meetings and celebrations, and free meeting space for BIPOC groups and organizations. 
  • Rental Capacity: The Center currently rents out 14 office spaces to small nonprofits serving the LGBTQIA+ community as well as small businesses, primarily in the mental health field. The new tower will allow the Center to rent space to approximately 30-45 tenants, thereby increasing its community impact and earned income.
What advisors & experts did the Center involve in the planning process?

In 2017, the Center was awarded a grant from the Community Design Collaborative to comprehensively evaluate the existing facility and provide a conceptual design to reconfigure and transform the building, and shortly after applied for and received a $1M RACP Grant. In 2020, earnest work on the larger building project began. ConsultEcon Inc. was engaged to provide insight into rental spaces in Center City with an eye towards potentially increasing earned revenue through space rentals and long-term leases. Metcalfe Architecture & Design signed on to develop a programming plan and the first 50% of schematic design, and with Owners Rep completed the work on the front one-third of the building. Fairmount Ventures, a consulting firm specializing in nonprofit resource development, was retained to conduct a campaign feasibility study and to oversee all building-related fundraising, and two additional firms – the Roz Group and Creative Repute – were engaged to conduct community engagement research and to design visually appealing campaign materials, respectively. Early in 2022, the Center engaged Castle & Associates to conduct a second economic analysis, complete a feasibility study, and build the project proforma.

How was the community involved in developing these plans?

Wiliam Way and its consultants held Community Engagement Sessions with 20+ community members by the Roz Group; Metcalfe Architecture & Design programming interviews with programming staff and volunteers; local stakeholder and program staff interviews with Castle & Associates to develop project charter including goals, strategies to achieve them and a transparent decision-making process; and presentations and requests for feedback with community organizations and leaders including Action Wellness, BEBASHI, Black LGBT Archives, Black LGBT Dance Company Colours, DVLF, Equality Forum, FIGHT, GALAEI, Independent Business Alliance, Jefferson University, Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, Swarthmore University, and music/entertainment representatives.  William Way will engage a firm to lead another layer of community engagement over Fall 2022.

Will programs at the Center be able to continue while construction is underway?

During the pandemic, most of the Center’s programs moved online. This allowed the Center to provide support to LGBTQIA+ people all over the world – individuals from multiple countries have tuned into programs hosted by the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center. Given the shifting nature of gathering in a post-pandemic world, the Center plans to maintain a robust online presence, hosting virtual and hybrid programs. The Center also plans to work with local businesses and organizations to identify appropriate spaces to host in-person gatherings where possible.

How will this new building change what William Way does?

This building, while visionary and groundbreaking, will not change the foundational services and safety that the Center provides – it will make those long-standing supports more visible, more celebrated, more welcoming to all, and more expansive.