Our Mission

To empower community organizations of the District in the creation and maintenance of programs and projects that benefit residents of the Special Services District through charitable grants and sponsorships.

Our History

Since its inception, the Penn Treaty Special Services District has approved more than 685 grant applications from more than 160 community organizations.* These requests have sought to address a wide range of needs and services, including, parks and greening, education, sports and recreation, arts and culture, infrastructure, and more. The positive impacts can be seen on any walk through our neighborhoods and are detailed in this report.

*As of June 2022

From 2006 to 2009

The history of the Penn Treaty SSD dates back to 2006 when SugarHouse Casino (now Rivers Casino) received state approval to build and operate a casino on the Delaware River in Fishtown. SugarHouse agreed to a Community Benefits Agreement with the neighboring communities:

• Fishtown
• Northern Liberties
• Olde Richmond
• South Kensington.

The agreement, signed in 2008, created a new special services district supported through a non-profit foundation whose purpose would be to serve the community by “maintaining and improving services, making physical improvements and sponsoring community activities important to the residents and businesses within the Neighboring Community.” The casino leadership agreed that the foundation would operate as a totally independent entity. Echoing the spirit of Philadelphia, it is run entirely by and for the neighbors. 

In June 2009, seven months after the CBA was signed, the Penn Treaty Special Services District was incorporated with the founding documents signed by seven representatives of the Riverwards neighborhoods . All volunteers and neighborhood residents, these individuals would comprise the Penn Treaty SSD’s inaugural board. SugarHouse made an early, preopening contribution of $175,000 and committed to subsequent contributions for 15 years, initially set at $500,000 and increasing to $1 million annually. To date, Rivers Casino has made contributions totaling nearly $9.4 million to the Penn Treaty Special Services District for the betterment of the Riverwards neighborhoods.

From 2010 to 2019

In January 2010, the board established an application process and guidelines for non-profi organizations to apply for funding. Most importantly, projects must benefit the people of the four Riverwards neighborhoods and improve their quality of life. The Penn Treaty board remains committed to full transparency in the process and welcomes proposals on a monthly basis.

For some small, volunteer-led organizations, Penn Treaty SSD has been the largest single source of funding, without which they could not serve the community. Penn Treaty SSD has also provided significant support to the civic associations of each Riverwards neighborhood, enabling them to make remarkable improvements and institute broad programming initiatives for the communities. In total, since it began operations, the Penn Treaty SSD has awarded more than $8.4 million (as of a June 1, 2022) in grants and sponsorships to neighborhood groups. 

From 2020 into the Future

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Penn Treaty SSD board initiated a new emergency grant program. The program assisted non-profits addressing vital needs in the pandemic and those experiencing a sudden and critical loss in revenue. The program has provided stability and financial support to nonprofits so that they can remain strong and effective, serving at-risk populations throughout the pandemic. More than $360,000 in COVID-19 emergency financial assistance grants has been awarded to accomplish those objectives. 

Penn Treaty SSD looks forward to continuing its service to the residents of the Riverwards neighborhoods with a renewed partnership with Rivers Casino. As this impact report demonstrates, the many programs, services, events, and projects funded over the past 13 years have significantly enhanced the quality of life in our community.

While the agreement with Rivers Casino guarantees funding only through 2024, we believe that our shared achievements are invaluable and worthy of an extended and renewed commitment to the neighbors of the Penn Treaty Special Services District for decades to come.