Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Penny Saved’ Means Training Dollars for 2 Cities

April 25, 1990 2 min read

By Julia Woltman

When Benjamin Franklin died on April 17, 1790, the conditions of his will guaranteed that his spirit of enterprise and the values he espoused would live on in at least two American cities.

In his will, Franklin left Boston and Philadelphia a gift of 1,000 pounds sterling each. The money, according to Franklin’s directions, was to be put in a trust managed by each of the cities and used to help ''young men of good character” pursue a craft or trade.

Now, on the 200th anniversary of Franklin’s death, his will directs that the money, which has grown to approximately $4.5 million in Boston and approximately $520,000 in Philadelphia, be released to the citizens of each city, with a percentage going to their respective states.

The release of the funds has given the two cities cause to reexamine Franklin’s commitment to education and his conviction that “laboring and handicrafts ... are the chief strength and support of a people.” And in both cities, it appears that Franklin’s ideals have withstood the test of time.

In Philadelphia, Mayor W. Wilson Goode appointed an advisory committee of Franklin scholars to make recommendations for the use of the proceeds from the Franklin Fund.

The committee’s recommenda4tions, accepted last week by Mayor Goode, urged that the fund be used primarily to award grants to students or recent graduates of Philadelphia high schools who need financial aid to gain additional training in a trade, craft, or applied science.

The committee also recommended that some of the money be used to award prizes or certificates to individuals nominated by their peers for excellence in the practice of a trade.

In addition, the Philadelphia panel urged that the Franklin Fund be invested, and that a substantial effort be made to increase it to $2 million.

Discussions in Boston

In Boston, Franklin’s birthplace, city leaders have made a similar effort to remain true to their benefactor’s wishes.

A committee appointed by Mayor Raymond L. Flynn is still in the process of developing a plan for use of the money. Discussions have included the three parties with an interest in the fund: the city, Boston’s Franklin Institute, and the state of Massachusetts, which is entitled to approximately 20 percent of the fund, according to Ted Landsmark, director of the office of jobs and community services and a member of the Franklin panel.

“The city’s goal,” said Mr. Landsmark, “is to continue in the same vein that Franklin intended--to use the funds for training programs for young people.”

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 1990 edition of Education Week as Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Penny Saved’ Means Training Dollars for 2 Cities