Philly Money Moves: Mayor Parker plans $130M for economic opportunity, venture capitalist Martino pledges $300k for STEM

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Cherelle Parker

Media Outlet

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Sarah Huffman & Danya Henninger

This month’s money moves include Mayor Parker’s first budget address and her $2 billion five-year plan.

Also, a local venture capitalist committed $300,000 to support sciences fairs in the region and an AI healthcare organization received funding from a federal agency.

Parker proposes $130 million for economic opportunity initiatives

In her first budget address, Mayor Cherelle Parker outlined what she called the “One Philly” plan. It calls for the city to invest $2 billion over five years into her five areas of priority — economic opportunity, public safety, cleaning and greening, housing and education. She did not propose any new taxes to fund the plan.

Under the economic opportunity pillar, Parker is proposing $130 million in initiatives to boost Black and brown small businesses and entrepreneurs across Philadelphia.

This includes investments in funds that support underrepresented groups, including $1 million for the Philadelphia Accelerator Fund and $1 million for The Enterprise Center’s Innovate Capital Growth Fund. Another $14 million would go towards the “Open for Business” initiative, a program dedicated to reducing bureaucratic red tape and streamlining processes needed to start and grow a business.

Also included in the proposal is $10 million to establish a City College for Municipal Employment at the Community College of Philadelphia, a pipeline program that would help solve the city staffing crisis — nearly 1 in 5 positions were vacant at the close of last year — while creating additional job opportunities for residents. Another $10 million would support other workforce development and apprenticeship programs.

In her address, Parker reiterated her goal to create a business roundtable that would convene chambers of commerce, business leaders and business owners to discuss ways to create more opportunity.

Local venture capitalist commits $300K to Delaware Valley Science Fairs

Married couple Paul and Aarati Martino pledged $300,000 to Delaware Valley Science Fairs (DVSF) over the next three years, becoming lead sponsors of the STEM education program.

Founded in 1948, the nonprofit runs 13 science fairs across Delaware, southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Paul Martino, founder of local VC firm Bullpen Capital, himself participated in a DVSF science fair as a high schooler. In 2018, he became the organization’s chairman, and has donated regularly over the years, with his previous gifts totaling about $150,000.

“Paul Martino has historically been one of the Delaware Valley Science Fairs’ biggest supporters, and we’re thrilled to welcome him and Aarati as our lead sponsors for the next three years” said Bob Solomon, DVSF executive director. “The Delaware Valley Science Fairs makes a real difference in the lives of our participants, and together we are committed to preparing tomorrow’s innovators and providing young people with a brighter future.”

AI healthcare nonprofit receives $48.3M federal contract

Every Cure, a nonprofit developing an AI platform that can identify multiple uses for existing medicines, will receive $48.3 million over three years from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a federal agency established in 2022 to support biomedical and health research.

This funding will support Every Cure as it develops its database and platform for physicians, researchers and patients. The organization is hoping to identify 100 potential treatment options in the next five years for diseases such as sickle cell disease and ALS.

“Through Every Cure, we are working tirelessly to unlock the full potential of FDA-approved drugs to treat many more diseases,” said David Fajgenbaum, the company’s cofounder and president. “This funding comes at a pivotal time, allowing us to scale our approach across diseases to pioneer new treatments for millions of people around the world without options.”