Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Our work contributes to a future where all children reach third grade with the skills and passion to read.

Research shows two major obstacles to improving student performance: a lack of high-quality, differentiated literacy instruction and insufficient reading materials matched to students’ reading levels.  In Philadelphia, this is compounded by the fact that many children start kindergarten already behind, facing limitations in access to high-quality early learning and in parents’ capacity to support early literacy.

We partner with projects that strengthen literacy skills, which will foster a positive transition into fourth grade.


Our Goal

The Lenfest Foundation seeks to provide financial support to organizations working to build a network of high-quality learning options throughout the city, to increase the percentage of children reading on grade level by third grade.

To that end, the foundation seeks to support projects that aim to:

  • Increase the number of children in high-quality pre-K learning experiences
  • Ensure a seamless transition from pre-K to kindergarten
  • Increase access to quality reading materials within schools or programs, or at home
  • Increase the capacity of practitioners to improve literacy instruction

Specifically, the foundation is excited to support early learning initiatives that focus on:

  • Strategies associated with identified citywide campaigns
  • Early literacy efforts within place-based strategies

Details about the application process are available here



Photo: Mayor's Office of Education

H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest | 1930-2018

Philadelphia lost a civic giant with the passing of H.F. Gerry Lenfest, who died August 5, 2018, at the age of 88. Reflecting on his life and legacy, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the Philadelphia of today without the incomparable leadership and largesse of Gerry Lenfest. The businessman and entrepreneur turned philanthropist extraordinaire ranks among the city’s most highly-respected and influential civic leaders, and the philanthropic path he blazed with his wife Marguerite will certainly have a profound impact on the fabric of our city for decades to come.

The Lenfests became wealthy from the sale of their cable business in 2000, and were among a new breed of donors whose mission was to give away the vast majority of their fortune during their lifetime.  In less than 20 years, the couple‘s giving has exceeded $1.3 billion. While the Lenfest’s philanthropy touched on a range of issues, Gerry is perhaps best known in Philadelphia for his financial support and leadership of some of the city’s major arts and cultural institutions, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Curtis Institute of Music, The Barnes Foundation, and the Museum of the American Revolution. His giving also made headlines recently when he purchased Philadelphia Media Network (owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and and donated it to a newly-created nonprofit, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the first-of-its-kind organization dedicated to developing and supporting sustainable business models for great local journalism. 

Last year the Lenfests joined a distinguished roster of donors to be honored with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. The award citation noted their innate modesty and hailed them for embodying the essence of generosity, altruism, and dedication to the common good.


Read more about the incredible life and legacy of Gerry Lenfest: