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Philadelphia, August 4, 2023 – Launchpad, an innovative workforce development program that serves high school students, today announced it has been selected to receive a $1.5M grant from the William Penn Foundation as a part of their Great Learning program area. The 3-year grant will take the initial cohort of students through the completion of the program as they enter their first job in tech. 

Launchpad targets underrepresented students approximately 18 months before high school graduation, helping them jumpstart their careers with technical training, work experience, coaching, and college credits on the path to a high-growth tech career.  Students remain with the program for 12 months after high school graduation, all while earning and learning.

The initial cohort of students have completed eight months of programming and are beginning to learn Python, a coding language. After 200 hours of Python programming, students will earn their PCEP, an industry-recognized Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer certification before high school graduation.

Launchpad will begin recruiting for the 2nd cohort in the fall.  “Funding from the William Penn Foundation has played a critical role in Launchpad’s implementation and expansion as we prepare to recruit and enroll an additional 75 students into our second cohort”, said Dannyelle Austin, founding Executive Director of Launchpad. 

The organization previously received a $100,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to support the recruitment of students and the first six months of the program. 

“The team at the Foundation has taken the time to truly understand and advocate for Launchpad and more importantly have taken time to connect directly with our students and their families.  We are looking forward to continuing our relationship over the next three years.”

“The William Penn Foundation’s transformative investment in Launchpad will prepare hundreds of local youth for successful careers in tech,” said Chip Linehan, Co-CEO of Building 21. “ We are deeply grateful to the William Penn Foundation for their visionary support in helping young people thrive in an economy that works for everyone.” 

Launchpad is an initiative of Building 21. 

About Launchpad

Launchpad is a workforce development program in Philadelphia that creates new pathways for young people that lead to good jobs in growing industries. Over the course of 2.5 years, students transition from high schoolers to skilled professionals ready for work in the tech industry through paid work experience, coaching, college courses, and competency-based skills training. Tuition-free, Launchpad empowers young people from across the city to find meaningful, sustainable careers where they can flourish. Launchpad is an initiative of Building 21. Learn more at about Launchpad and connect with us on X and Instagram (@launchpadphilly).

About Building 21

Building 21 is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization reimagining education through personalized learning. Across all of our work, we are implementing a competency-based approach to teaching, learning, and workforce development that promotes transparency, emphasizes growth, ensures mastery and activates young people to take ownership of their pathways to their futures. Our initiatives include 2 Lab Schools, the Learning Innovation Network, and Launchpad. Learn more at about Building 21, and connect with us on X (@b21network).

About William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at

For questions or additional information, please contact Melanie Hidalgo-Britt (