For the first time in our nation’s history, two internationally acclaimed non-profit organizations—the National Audubon Society (Audubon Pennsylvania) and the Philadelphia Outward Bound School—are joining forces to save and sustain a vital part of our natural heritage in a unique partnership. Their missions converge in the East Park section of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park—just blocks from the neighborhood of Strawberry Mansion—where a century-old abandoned water reservoir has become a unique wildlife sanctuary and an important stopover location for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.
Preserve a Hidden Oasis in the Heart of Our City.
Your Donation Helps
We have secured $18M—and are still going!
Total Fundraising Goal$18.4
Current Donor Pledges$18
Outward Bound Currently Serves over 5,000 Students Per Year in Over 65 Schools in the Philadelphia Area.
Audubon PA Currently Serves 15,000 participants in programs and events in the Philadelphia region. Of this number, 9,000 are youth.
The Discovery Center
This groundbreaking venture by two of our most beloved organizations will be a national model for partnership and collaboration, reaching more than 15,000 students per year in Audubon’s programs for 6- to 12-year-olds and Outward Bound’s programs for 12- to 18-year-olds. The Center will protect a unique habitat rarely found in a major urban area and will provide education and adventure programs that inspire self-discovery, foster personal achievement, and build community across Philadelphia.
Help Our Youth Take Flight.
The Discovery Center will serve as the base of operations for the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, a chartered affiliate of the nation’s preeminent provider of active learning expeditions. Outward Bound maintains long-established programs in over 60 public, charter and private schools in the Philadelphia area and currently serves more than 4,500 students annually, changing lives through challenge and discovery. In its new home, the Philadelphia Outward Bound School will attract a greater number of community and regional partners to its world-renowned leadership development programs. The Discovery Center will expand Outward Bound’s reach across the Delaware Valley region to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA and NJ state forests and parks.
The National Audubon Society will use The Discovery Center as a facility for research and science-based conservation projects and educational programs throughout the Philadelphia region. Audubon will engage individuals and communities by offering the resources and tools necessary to analyze, preserve and restore our natural environment. Audubon education programs will challenge both young people and adults through hands-on exploration of the natural world in their own backyards and neighborhoods. The Discovery Center will also allow visitors to connect to Audubon’s national and international conservation initiatives, serving as a major migratory stopover on the Atlantic Flyway for nearly 200 species of birds and as a premier destination for bird watching throughout the region.
Sustain the Legacy of Our Historic Heritage.
“How exciting for Philadelphia that The Discovery Center project brings the community together with the educational resources of Outward Bound and Audubon to reopen the East Park Reservoir for Outdoor Learning and Conservation. In this beautiful natural place, young people and adults will discover their potential while exploring this wonder of nature.”Former Mayor Michael A. Nutter City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia hosts the World’s Fair to celebrate America’s centennial. Ten million people come to Fairmount Park to share ideas, learn new technology, and experience the beauty of our nation’s birthplace.
East Park Reservoir opens and is designed to provide clean water to more than 80% of the city’s residents. The project is an international engineering marvel and becomes the pride of Philadelphia’s world-renowned water works system.
With a continuing decline in city population, the Philadelphia Water Department abandons the use of the reservoir’s west basin as a city water supply system, erects fences, and closes off 50 acres of parkland from public access.
The west basin evolves naturally into a pristine lake. The site grows dense with vegetation and becomes a critical stopover point for migrating birds—particularly wading and diving birds—and is one of Philadelphia’s most unusual natural wildlife habitats.
A chance to ensure that this natural lake is not drained, to save and sustain the site as an important wildlife sanctuary, to reopen this miracle of nature in the heart of East Fairmount Park, and to establish a world-class educational center for environmental conservation and leadership development.
Thank you to the generous organizations and individuals who have contributed to our campaign:
William Penn Foundation // Otto Haas Charitable Trust // Allerton Foundation // City of Philadelphia // Commonwealth of Pennsylvania // Mr. and Mrs. N. Peter Hamilton // The Knight Foundation // William and Laura Buck // 1830 Family Foundation // The McCausland Foundation // Philadelphia Outward Bound School Board of Trustees // Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest // Jamie and Meg McLane // The McLean Contributionship // Connelly Foundation // Carol Haas Gravagno // Leslie Ann Miller and Richard Worley // Leo Model Foundation // The Stanley Family Fund // Drumcliff Foundation // William M. King Charitable Foundation // PA Commonwealth Financing Authority // Dr. George Ross Fisher III // Franny and Franny Abbott // Peter and Susan Wilmerding // Jon and Emily Conant // Jeremy and Susan Coote // Mill Spring Foundation // Arthur and Douglass Newbold // John and Elizabeth Shober // Michael and Tana Wall // Donald and Hether Smith // Robert and Susan Peck // Tim and Sandy Greenwood // Ed and Marcia Ruggero // Anonymous // Cindy and John Affleck // Charlie Thomson and Nancy Leon // Mark and Michelle Haslam // Phillies Charities // Joseph and Lynn Manko // Dr. Janice T. Gordon // Mrs. I.T. Starr // RK Mellon Foundation // Jeffrey and Krista Mitzak // Jack and Alicia Stoddard // Martin Guitar // Sharon Barr and Pete Hoskins // Douglas P. Coopersmith // Joanne Denworth // Jane C. MacElree // Rudolph Garcia // John Giordano // Nancy Goldenberg // Gregory Harvey // Peter Hearn // Howard and Barbara Meyers // Katie Newsom Pastuszek // Gloria Reisman // Howard Scher // David Scolnic // Langhorne and Marilyn Smith // Bryan and Jayme Colket // Philip and Carolyn Wallis // Braithwaite Communications // Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney // Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
Last updated March 4, 2016
Board of Directors
Katie Newsom Pastuszek, President
Executive Director, Philadelphia Outward Bound School
Greg Goldman, Vice President
Executive Director, Audubon Pennsylvania
Vice President, National Audubon Society
Arthur Newbold, Chairman
Jon Conant, Vice Chairman
Lorraine Sciarra, Secretary
Elinor Haider, Treasurer
Board of Advisors
Joanne Denworth, Co-chair
Joseph Manko, Co-chair
Cindy Affleck // Alan Barstow // Laura Buck // Laurada Byers // Jon Conant // Doug Coopersmith // Jeremy Coote // Michael Diberardinis // Rudy Garcia // John Giordano // Nancy Goldenberg // Jan Gordon // Tonnetta Graham // Tim Greenwood // Janet Haas // Gregory Harvey // Peter Hearn // Pete Hoskins // Lenora Jackson-Evans // Jamie McLane // Allen Model // Arthur Newbold // Gloria Reisman // Howard Scher // David Scolnic // Donald Smith // Michael Stolper // Susie Wilmerding
In the News
- Audubon: Birding in the City of Brotherly Love
- Philly Voice: Fairmount Park opens 50 acres of land kept behind gates for 45 years
- Philly.com (Daily News): Strawberry Mansion's secret lake reborn as a kid paradise
- Philadelphia Business Journal: East Fairmount Park Reservoir to open again thanks to planned $16M center
- Philly.com (Inquirer): Long-dark East Park Reservoir gets new life
- CBS Philly: Plans For New Education Center At Site Of Abandoned Reservoir In Fairmount Park
- PhillyMag.com: 50 Acres of East Fairmount Park to Reopen to Public After Years of Being Fenced Off
- Patch.com: Secret Lake,' Massive New Park to Open In Philadelphia
- Plan Philly: East Park's Hidden Lake Habitat, a Site for Discovery
- Grid Magazine: Drinking It In
- Fairmount Park Conservancy: The Civic Commons
- Hidden City Philadelphia: A Winter's Walk Around East Park Reservoir
- City Paper: City Signs New Lease for New Urban Oasis
- Plan Philly: National Audubon Society and Outward Bound Philadelphia want to preserve a virtually unknown and inaccessible lake in Philadelphia
To donate by mail, please make checks payable to
EPLACC/The Discovery Center and mail to:
Attn: Jonathan Sipes, c/o Philadelphia Outward Bound School
3250 West Sedgley Drive / Philadelphia, PA 19130
For further information, contact:
Carrie Barron, Assistant Director/Communications Manager
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove
443 315 3941