On November 17, 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) convened its first annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit at the Community College of Philadelphia, Center for Business and Industry. Approximately 200 people attended the summit, representing more than 80 separate organizations and agencies. The daylong conference opened with a gracious welcome by Maria Gonzalez, President of HACE and Chair of CEO’s Oversight Board. Highlights of the morning session included inspiring remarks by summit co-sponsor Councilman Curtis Jones, and a dynamic presentation by keynote speaker Jodie Levin-Epstein (Center for Law and Social Policy) on the unique characteristics of 21st century poverty (“it’s not your grandmother’s poverty …”) and the role cities can play in making a difference. Eva Gladstein and Councilman Jones presided over a smart phone-enabled survey on a few basic poverty facts and trends, which gave the audience a chance to test its collective knowledge in real time. The morning session concluded with a series of workshops that offered detailed presentations on a range of topics designed to advance the core goals of Shared Prosperity Philadelphia in the areas of early childhood education, access to public benefits, housing security, economic security, jobs and workforce development, and collective impact. (Presentation materials from selected breakout sessions are available for download below.)
The afternoon session kicked off with an exciting preview of the trailer from a forthcoming documentary film entitled “Stories from the Promise Zone,” produced by the Big Picture Alliance, a non-profit film education program for youth based in Philadelphia. The student filmmakers walked through the aisles of the packed auditorium distributing flyers about their program while the video played on the large screen at the front of the room. Mayor Michael Nutter, the featured speaker for the afternoon, spoke of his decision to make the fight against poverty a major focus of his administration, and of the City’s commitment to seek out the most effective and promising strategies to address both the causes and consequences of poverty in the city. Eva Gladstein provided the audience with an overview of the key sections of the Shared Prosperity Philadelphia Progress Report, and reviewed some of the main accomplishments that were achieved by CEO and its partners in the relatively short time since the release of Shared Prosperity Philadelphia. Afterwards, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez reminded the attendees that poverty is only going to be addressed by working together and taking action across multiple sectors of society, with individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and government each having an important role to play. The summit concluded with the audience using their smart phones to generate a word cloud by identifying a key step each individual would commit to take in 2015 to make tangible progress on the goals of Shared Prosperity. Copies of the Shared Prosperity Philadelphia Progress Report were distributed at the summit and are available at the Shared Prosperity website.
Selected Workshop Materials
Housing Security – Substandard Conditions in the Private Housing Market: Existing Conditions, Impacts and Possible Solutions
- The Impact of Housing Quality on Children’s Health
- Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission
- University City District’s Project Rehab