On Thursday March 21st, we gathered with Penn students, Penn alumni, public school students, public school teachers, and West Philly community members in front of the University’s College Hall to hear stories from those affected by the School District’s lack of funding and demand that Penn begin negotiations with the City of Philadelphia to make Payments In Lieu of Taxes.
Despite an almost $14 billion endowment and a consolidated operating budget that rivals the entire City of Philadelphia, Penn doesn’t pay taxes on billions of dollars in property holdings. This is true even though Penn and other “mega-nonprofits” do not meet the criteria for tax exemption put forth by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2012. Penn is the largest private landowner in the entire city and public school students are losing millions of dollars a year in funding as a result.
“Growing up just fifteen minutes from Penn, I have seen its spread into West Philadelphia and how it has displaced many families and schools in the area creating its own infamy amongst West Philly residents,” said University of Pennsylvania freshman Dallas Ryan. “I have witnessed how others have been forced to move further west or work for barely livable wages at Penn to keep their homes. We’re not asking for charity—we’re asking for the “civic Ivy” to fulfill its most basic responsibilities to the city that it calls home.”