Small-scale, HUGE Impact.
Tiny WPA’s mission is to grow and empower an army of talented community-design leaders—Building Heroes—that will make Philadelphia the national model for how to engage people of all ages in the design of their cities and help lay the foundation of an incomparable future for community-generated civic innovation.
Its programmatic activities, neighborhood revitalization efforts, design-build projects, and creative placemaking initiatives vary in scope, but all are small in scale, community based, needs-driven, action-oriented and collaborative. Its Building Hero Project provides youth and adults from diverse social and economic backgrounds with innovative, year-round training in design, collaboration, leadership, fabrication, and entrepreneurship. In addressing specific problems and transforming their community, participants gain valuable life-long design and leadership skills to become the next generation of civic change agents.
Named after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, Tiny WPA was conceived in 2012 and piloted as a program of Public Workshop with a focus on youth-led community design improvement projects. Due to growing interest in small creative interventions as well as the need to connect, grow and support a movement of community design leaders, Alex Gilliam and Renee Schacht expanded and evolved Tiny WPA into a nonprofit organization in 2014.