Launched with support from the William Penn Foundation, the Exemplars Project sought to identify, spotlight, and build awareness of congregation-based programs and social services that are particularly innovative, affordable, and effective. This initiative, which was piloted in Philadelphia and presents opportunities for replication nationwide, offers new evidence of the centrality of sacred places in community life.

Partners engaged the Public Health Management Corporation to evaluate program quality in seven program areas: after-school programs; health promotion and nutrition education; behavioral health and addictions treatment; programs serving the homeless; older adult services; business and community development; and adult education. Characteristics of exemplary programs in an eighth area – childcare – were drawn from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Keystone STARS program, which is an initiative of the state’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs.