Announcing the Tire Swing Fund

The Friends of the Rail Park is excited to launch the Tire Swing Fund, a new initiative to catalyze neighborhood-driven programs and support local cultural producers through microgranting opportunities. The fund will support programs that highlight local cultures, grow social connectivity, and increase access to nature.

We know that the global pandemic has had a big impact on our local creative economy as performances, festivals, and events that cultural producers rely on are postponed at the Rail Park and across the City. Meanwhile, there is a need for creative interventions that connect us to one another during this period of social distancing.

Many Rail Park community members recall wandering the Viaduct during pre-construction days to play on a tire swing installed by artists Dani Conkling, Nathan Dixon, Jake Kehs, Stephen Horcha, and Raul Romero as documented in Romero’s piece, Swing Swing. The fund aims to embody the tire swing’s celebration of creativity, playfulness, and togetherness.


We are now seeking applications for grants of up to $700 (up to $1200 for collaborations) for projects that celebrate communities and grow social connectivity while adhering to social distancing.

Projects should reach communities geographically near the Rail Park path, or engage the larger community around the Rail Park project.

Examples of projects could include:
• A dance workshop hosted on Zoom;
• Collecting and distributing recipes from neighbors;
• A live streamed collaborative music performance;
• Archiving community conversations over a virtual dinner.

Requirements & eligibility
• Residents and organizations in Philadelphia are encouraged to apply; priority will be given to those who live, play, or work in the neighborhoods that the Rail Park runs through (see map).
• Projects must be completed between 6/1/2020 and 9/1/2020.
• Projects must adhere to social distancing guidelines.
• Projects must be free & publicly accessible, or have public components.
• Grantees will allow the organization to share and promote their projects before, during, and after completion.
• Grantees will be asked to submit a short feedback form upon completion of their project.

Project ideas will be considered based on community impact, accessibility, creativity, and feasibility. For more information, please see our FAQ’s below.

Deadline: May 22, 2020

Link to application

With questions, contact Sian Sheu at shawn[at]



What is the Rail Park?

The Rail Park is a vision for the transformation of 3 miles of abandoned railroads into public greenspace.  The park will connect 10 different neighborhoods in Philadelphia with recreational space, nature, and alternate transportation paths.  In June 2018, a ¼ mile of the elevated portion was completed and opened to the public in the Callowhill/Chinatown North neighborhood.  We call that Phase I.

Who is eligible for the Tire Swing Fund? 

Residents, artists, organizations, and other cultural producers in Philadelphia are encouraged to apply.  You can also apply as a collaboration.  Grantees under 18 will need parental/guardian permission.  Please note that priority will be given to those who live, work, or play in the neighborhoods nearby the Rail Park.

What can the funds be used for?

Projects completed between 5/1/2020 and 9/1/2020 are eligible for funding.  Funds can be used for artist stipends, project supplies, or marketing.

How will project proposals be evaluated?  

Here are some things we’ll consider when reviewing project proposals:

  • Creativity: Does the project respond to the needs of Rail Park communities? Does the project demonstrate awareness of existing cultures and contexts?
  • Community impact:  Will the project provide opportunities for social interaction? Does the project connect disparate community groups? Does the applicant have a relationship with the Rail Park project, or nearby communities?
  • Accessibility: Is the proposed project free and open to the public, or have a public component?  Will the project experience be accessible across culture, race, and socioeconomic backgrounds? 
  • Feasibility: Does the project adhere to social distancing guidelines?  Does the applicant have the capacity to carry out the project within the allotted time and resources? Can the project be adapted if it is partially funded?

When will the funds be available?

Grantees will be notified mid-to-late May; we will work towards a quick turnaround time for transferring funds.

Who is supporting the Tire Swing Fund?

The Tire Swing Fund is made possible by Knight Foundation through the 8 80 Cities Emerging Cities Champion program.  To support the fund and ongoing programming at the Rail Park, please visit