The Porch Light Initiative


The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) introduce The Porch Light Initiative, a three-year initiative that situates art and human connection at the heart of recovery and healing in three North Philadelphia neighborhoods (the 19123, 19132, and 19140 zip codes). 

Together with individuals receiving treatment for behavioral health challenges, we are building teams of behavioral health service providers, artists, and community residents to address trauma in our most underserved communities alongside the associated issues of drug addiction, mental illness, and other behavioral health issues. 

By facilitating opportunities for personal growth and leadership, creating transformative public art projects, and raising awareness of behavioral health services, The Porch Light Initiative will illuminate the pathway toward enhanced community health and overall quality of life.

The Porch Light Initiative is more than a ground-breaking alternative therapeutic model aimed at improving individual and community health through human connection and art - it is a pioneering research study. The Yale School of Medicine is currently conducting a community-based participatory research study on the Porch Light Initiative to assess the impact the program has on individual and community-level outcome measures. The rigorous evaluation design is new to the field of public art and includes the following methods: the careful tracking of program activities, the use of comparison sites, community surveys, systematic observations of mural sites, pre/post/and follow-up interviews, and case studies. 

The study is ongoing. Any findings will be disseminated publically. Please keep an eye out for future reports!

The Goals of The Porch Light Initiative

  • Build a team of artists, service providers, individual participants, and other stakeholders that collaborate on transformative public art projects which encourage community ownership and pride and catalyze positive changes in neighborhoods.
  • Use art to stimulate community engagement as a means of connecting individuals with behavioral health challenges to each other, service providers, and the larger community.
  • Shed light on challenges faced by those with behavioral health issues, reducing stigma and encouraging empathy among fellow community members.

Partnering organizations: The City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), Project H.O.M.E.’s Rowan Homes – Partner Agency for 19121 in Years 1 and 2, Sobriety Through Out-Patient (STOP) – Partner Agency for 19132, Asociación  Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) – Partner Agency for 19140, 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University - Partner Agency for 19123 in Year 3

The Porch Light Initiative is made possible thanks to the generous support of the following funders:  City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Independence Foundation, Claneil Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, The Patricia Kind Family Foundation

For more information please contact Porch Light Initiative Program Manager Sara Ansell at or 215-685-0739. Keep up with the Porch Light Initiative on our Facebook page at