TECHNICAL.LY • Philly Money Moves: West Philadelphia Skills Initiative won a big workforce development grant

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Philly Money Moves: West Philadelphia Skills Initiative won a big workforce development grant

Plus, Gov. Shapiro announced a $400 million workforce training program, and NIH dispersed grants to local life science orgs.



West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI), a workforce development program through the University City District, won a $339,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to support workforce development for justice-involved individuals.

During FY22, 17% of WPSI’s participants were justice-involved individuals and only half of them graduated, according to the org. These funds will support WPSI as it increases capacity to serve these individuals through support systems and knowledge. This could include bringing on people with more expertise helping these individuals.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to JPMorgan Chase for their continued support of the Skills Initiative,” wrote the University City District in an announcement. “With this latest grant, they have now contributed over $2 million to support our crucial work of connecting Philadelphians to career pathways with major local employers.”


Shapiro announces a $400M workforce training program

In July, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced a $400 million workforce training initiative designed to address workforce shortages felt throughout the state. The governor created this Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program through an executive order.

As part of the initiative, a grant program will offer organizations working on federally funded infrastructure projects up to $40,000 for each new worker hired. The funding comes from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

“It’s very clear: More trained workers equals quicker progress, cleaner water, better infrastructure, more economic opportunity for Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said during an announcement event.


Advent Therapeutics wins $3 million NIH grant

Bucks County-based biotech company Advent Therapeutics received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This NIH Small Business Innovation Research Phase IIB Grant will support development and preclinical requirements for Advent’s aerosolized treatment against bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature infants.

“This NIH award will allow us to greatly accelerate the development and advance towards approval of our optimized vitamin A drug product,” said David L. Lopez, CEO of Advent Therapeutics, in a statement. “Our primary focus is to accelerate the path to commercialization, first in the US, then EU and worldwide. US launch of Advent’s initial vitamin A drug product for injection is possible in early 2025 with potential peak annual revenues in excess of $100 million for the prevention of BPD. In addition, we intend to pursue broader applications for our novel retinol palmitate drug product that have significant market potential.”

Including this grant, Advent has received $6 million total from NIH for its neonatal work.


Penn Medicine and CHOP receive $26 million grant from NIH

Penn Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia received a $26 million grant from the NIH to research therapies from genetic diseases in newborns.

The research will specifically look at the diseases phenylketonuria, hereditary tyrosinemia type 1 and mucopolysaccharidosis type 1, all three of which are currently incurable. This five-year grant will support research behind CRISPR gene-editing tools that allow researchers to change one component of an existing drug to treat other diseases.

“CRISPR offers the potential to develop highly effective treatments for incurable genetic diseases and improve the quality of life for patients with these conditions,” said Dr. William Peranteau, an attending surgeon in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP, in a statement. “This NIH funding will help us develop and validate the safety of new gene therapies that can be given to patients in vivo — directly in the body — so that we will have the data we need to be able to move into clinical trials.”


More Money Moves also spotted these raises via SEC filings:

  • Vitara Biomedical, a medtech company developing a therapeutic platform for premature infants, raised $25 million.
  • Newsprint, an AI browser assistant for reading news articles, raised $405,000.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.