News, December 2019

William Penn House pre-renovation. © Matthew Martyr/FCNL Education Fund.

FCNL Education Fund assumes control of William Penn House

On September 1, the Friends Committee on National Legislation Education Fund (FCNL Education Fund) assumed responsibility for the governance and management of William Penn House, a Quaker center located in Washington, D.C., that offers various advocacy programs and housing to groups and individuals. Following a period of repairs to the 1917 building, the nonprofit William Penn House will reopen, possibly as soon as summer 2020, continuing in its original mission to “serve and inspire everyone seeking a more peaceful, just, and inclusive society.”

According to Diane Randall, FCNL’s executive secretary, the boards of William Penn House and the FCNL Education Fund were in dialogue earlier this year about how they might work together more closely. “After due diligence and discernment,” she said, “we came to the point where we felt it would be best to agree on a transfer of control.”

William Penn House, founded in 1966, sought to provide “friendly hospitality, comfortable accommodations, and a welcoming space for meetings and events.” The founders hoped that through Spirit-led experiential education, creative engagement, and opportunities to experience inclusive community, they could inspire people of all ages to share and develop their gifts to build peace, justice, and equality.

Founded in 1943, FCNL lobbies the U.S. government to advance peace, justice, opportunity, and environmental stewardship. Its offices are just blocks away from William Penn House, and the two organizations have maintained close ties throughout their histories. The FCNL Education Fund, a sister organization of FCNL, is a nonprofit and does not engage in lobbying.

While the FCNL Education Fund seeks to continue to follow the mission of William Penn House, some changes will be made. According to Randall, once it reopens the house will only accommodate faith-based groups who come to D.C. to lobby Congress. Regular programs will also be offered to train future advocates for peace, justice, and the environment.

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