Behind the New $1 Million Library Gift from “Mr. Philadelphia’s” Foundation

photo: Jeffrey P Miller/shutterstock

photo: Jeffrey P Miller/shutterstock

Albert M. Greenfield is a man who once said, “A man can be considered successful only when he makes a worthwhile contribution to his generation and to his fellow citizens.” He was also known as "Mr. Philadelphia," and a 2007 documentary film was made about him to highlight his life and work in the city. Despite that attention, his foundatio tends to keep a pretty low profile, quietly giving money away to local groups involved in arts and culture, education, human services, and civic initiatives. Low profile, that is, until a $1 million gift is announced in town.

The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation recently made a $1 million gift to Philadelphia’s Temple University for a research reading room in its library. The university plans to open a state-of-the-art library next year and give the funder naming rights to create the Albert M. Greenfield Special Collections Research Center Reading Room on the library’s first floor.

“This gift to the new library recognizes Albert M. Greenfield’s long history of supporting Temple University and his belief in its important educational mission,” said Priscilla M. Luce, president of the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation.

During his lifetime, Greenfield was very committed to Temple University, even serving on the Temple’s board of trustees from 1927 to 1947. Meanwhile, the Temple University Archives, Temple Libraries’ Urban Archives, and the Philadelphia Jewish Archives all document Greenfield’s contributions to the city. The school’s new library is poised to be a space that inspires creativity, builds community, and enhances learning in the Philadelphia region and beyond. And on top of Greenfield’s $1 million, additional giving opportunities are still available for endowments and one-time gifts.

But unlike some donors who give big locally and stick to schools they have strong connections to, the Greenfield Foundation continues to award grants to many different causes around town. A few other highlighted grantees include the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment), the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Empowering People Through Horticulture), and the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. John Fantuzzo (Making Urban Education Work for Children). Other groups that have secured this funder’s support include the United Way, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival.

Grants are pretty exclusively awarded within the Philadelphia region, and there’s been a big interest lately in funding programs that reach youth and people with special needs. Special project and program support is far more common than general operating support here, but Greenfield does have a long history of awarding multi-year grants.

You can learn more about this locally focused Philadelphia foundation in our IP profile.

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