Today Penn announced that it would pay $10 million a year for the next 10 years to the School District of Philadelphia. The funds will go towards remediating the toxic public school infrastructure that the City and Penn have long neglected, despite students, educators, parents, and community members raising the alarm about unsafe conditions for decades.
This is a huge win for the PILOTs movement. Without the tireless organizing of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, Penn Community for Justice, Penn for PILOTS, Penn SLAP, Philadelphia Student Union, Caucus of Working Educators, Our City Our Schools campaign, and many more, Penn would have stuck to its age old excuse: that this multi-billion dollar “non-profit” just couldn’t afford it! Thank you for all of your hard work and for helping us call their bluff.
This moment proves that when we organize — we win!
We should celebrate this historic agreement, which would not have been possible without the relentless work of heightened direct action and media attention. During a nationwide reckoning with white supremacy, we stood up to our institutions and made them understand that funding our public schools is a matter of racial justice.
Despite Penn’s framing, we know this is not a “donation” or a “gift.” Every cent Penn chooses to “allocate” to working-class communities is not charity but restitution for countless resources stolen from the Philadelphia communities whose land Penn occupies.
Everyone who marched in protests, spoke on panels, wrote emails, posted on social media, and talked to colleagues and classmates about PILOTs should congratulate themselves today. You were part of a movement that forced Penn to concede.
We know that this win doesn’t come close to what our long exploited and criminally neglected communities truly deserve. We must organize bigger, better, and stronger until Penn meets our demands.
So today we celebrate and tomorrow we continue the fight!
We won’t stop until Penn:
- Commits to a permanent PILOTs agreement paid into an Education Equity Fund, in the amount of 40% of foregone property taxes, or $40 million annually
- Defunds Penn Police and institutes police-free strategies for campus and community safety
- Divests from the prison-industrial complex, fossil fuels, and other industries that disproportionately harm working-class people of color
We can and will win!
- Sign our pledge to join our movement: tinyurl.com/PCJpledge
- Reach out via Facebook, Instagram, or email to get involved:
Facebook Group & Page: Penn Community for Justice
Find out more about this significant moment in the Inquirer article, “Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia School District to help with asbestos, lead abatement”.