The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Celebrates Grand Opening of South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center

LEED-Certified, First-of-Its-Kind Public-Private Partnership Represents the Future of Community Health

Published on in CHOP News

Ribbon Cutting South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy center Philadelphia, Pa., May 9, 2016 – The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) today celebrated the grand opening of its new South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center. The $42.5 million, 96,000-sqaure-foot LEED-certified facility includes a CHOP pediatric primary care center; Philadelphia Department of Public Health community health center; state-of-the-art Free Library of Philadelphia South Philadelphia Library; and DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center.

“Today we celebrate a breakthrough — a very special center that is designed to meet the specific needs of families in this community, now and long into the future,” said Madeline Bell, president and CEO of CHOP. “The South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center will provide children and adults not only comprehensive health and wellness services, but also a full range of literacy and recreational programming — all under one roof. It is the country’s first example of this unique type of public-private partnership. CHOP thanks our own innovative thinkers and those from the City of Philadelphia and the Free Library of Philadelphia for their vision and determination to make this project a reality.”

The result of a four-year collaboration established just two years after the Affordable Care Act became law, the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center represents a pioneering public-private partnership.

“I’m glad to officially welcome the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center into our community,” said Mayor Kenney. “This new state-of-the-art, eco-friendly facility represents the partnership of private and public collaborating to provide accessible community services. Residents can come to this state-of-the-art building for one-stop shopping — for healthcare, education and recreation. I would like to thank the countless City departments, South Philadelphia organizations and the many partners who had a crucial hand in creating this building, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — a global leader in pediatric healthcare and truly a great corporate citizen committed to Philadelphia and the region.” 

Project background

In 2012, CHOP’s neighborhood clinic had outgrown its space and was looking to expand. Meanwhile, in the same neighborhood, the City of Philadelphia operated a health clinic that provided primary care services to adults and children, as well as a small recreation center, playground and a neighborhood library. All were in need of major renovations and lacked equipment necessary to meet the needs of the growing South Philadelphia community.

During discussions between City and CHOP leadership, a novel idea was born: CHOP would build a comprehensive medical clinic on the City’s land to house the existing City and brand new CHOP medical practices, as well as construct a recreation center and playground that would double the size of the existing facility. Also included in the project would be the City’s first “21st Century” library that would interconnect with both health and recreation facilities.

“The Free Library is so proud to be a partner in this transformative space that will bring robust health resources to the South Philadelphia community,” said Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon. “We strive to advance literacy, guide learning and inspire curiosity for all Philadelphians, and this new space and unprecedented partnership will go a long way toward increasing health literacy and outcomes.”

“DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center has always been a landmark for residents in this area of South Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “The renovated recreation spaces indoors and out will enhance the quality of life and well-being for children and adults — working hand-in-hand with the health center and library resources also located on this campus. The Department of Parks & Recreation is committed to helping all Philadelphians grow by connecting them to the natural world, to each other, and to fun, physical and social opportunities. The new DiSilvestro Recreation Center will accomplish all of that and more.”

Project features

  • CHOP Pediatric Primary Care Center
    • 22,000-square-feet
    • Expect 35,000 patient visits/year
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health Community Health Center
    • 29,500-square-feet
    • 50,000+ patient visits annually
    • Adult, pediatric, women’s health, family planning and dental care specialties
    • Health and nutrition classes
    • Clinical recommendations for physical activity at the DiSilvesto Playground and Recreation Center
  • Free Library of Philadelphia South Philadelphia Library
    • Nearly 12,000 square-feet
    • 150,000+ customers annually
    • Child and adult literacy classes
    • Library-based Consumer Health Resource Center
    • Free Wi-Fi, public computers and computer literacy classes
    • ESL classes
  • DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center
    •  Indoor and outdoor recreation space, featuring playground, basketball court, green space and rain garden

Project financing

The South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center will be focused on improving the health of an entire community, allowing both children and adults to access an integrated offering of services to promote care, wellness and literacy — all within one city block. To finance the project, the City of Philadelphia provided a lease on-site at minimal cost, plus $2.2 million towards construction. CHOP provided $30 million in operating revenue, and the Free Library of Philadelphia provided $1.3 million. A final $9.8 million in equity was provided by New Market Tax Credits.

More information

About The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 535-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit

About the Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hotspots; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach. With more than 6 million in-person visits and millions more online annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact. For more information, visit:

About Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of her people through intentional and sustained stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways as well as through hundreds of safe, stimulating recreation, environmental and cultural centers. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world around them, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. PPR is responsible for the upkeep of historically significant Philadelphia events and specialty venues, and works collaboratively with communities and organizations in leading capital projects and the introduction of inventive programming. To learn more about Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, visit us at, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

About The Department of Public Health

The Department of Public Health’s mission is to protect and promote the health of all Philadelphians and provide a healthcare safety net for those most vulnerable. The department’s Ambulatory Health Service program operates eight neighborhood health centers. These clinics provide a wide range of services, including: primary care medical services for adults and children, obstetric care, family planning services, dental services, social services, behavioral health services, X-rays, and pharmacy. Across the whole system there are about 300,000 patient visits a year. A Federally Qualified Health Center site for over 20 years and a primary care medical site for over 40 years, Health Center #2 is a key safety net provider in South Philadelphia, caring for over 10,000 patients annually, making nearly 50,000 visits. It serves a diverse section of the city with residents from many immigrant communities including Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, China, and India, to name a few.  Regardless of one’s income or insurance status, any Philadelphian is eligible to receive high quality, comprehensive ambulatory medical care from Health Center #2. 

Contact: Emily DiTomo, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-6063 or