4th Annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit

4th Annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit

One City, One Future: Building Shared Prosperity from the Ground Up

November 30, 2017

Convening community members, service providers, policy-makers and advocates, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) held its 4th Annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit. The theme of this event was One City, One Future: Building Shared Prosperity from the Ground Up. Mitchell Little, Executive Director of CEO started the day by welcoming everyone before turning the floor over to Omar Woodard of the GreenLight Fund to introduce the Morning Keynote speaker, State Representative Chris Rabb.

Rep. Chris Rabb’s speech set the tone for the entire day. He spoke about how we not only need to reclaim the language we use when we talk about poverty, but also expand our understanding of wealth. Wealth does not only apply to finances. Rep. Rabb stated “I don’t like to talk about [financial] wealth when I talk about shared prosperity, because there are so many other forms of wealth that we have to uplift.” Rep. Rabb also discussed the important role that our ancestors play in what we do today; they are the ones who started the fight centuries ago and it is up to us to finish it.

After the Morning Keynote Address, participants broke into one of five breakout sessions:

  • Community-Controlled Affordable Housing: Community Land Trusts as a Not-so-New Anti-Gentrification Tool
  • Building Community Power through Consumer Protection
  • When Community Organizing Places Your Agency in the Crosshairs: Learning from the Destruction of ACORN
  • Strengthening Community Engagement and Organizing through Capacity Building
  • Standing with Philadelphia’s Immigrant Communities in a Time of Uncertainty

During lunch there was a powerful spoken word performance by Shirmina Smith and Ruja Ballard from the Philly Youth Poetry Movement. They did two pieces on what it is like to be young, female, black and poor in the world today. You can find them @yourfavoritejawns_ on Instagram.

The afternoon plenary session began with remarks from Mayor James Kenney, who was introduced by Hazim Hardeman, Temple University’s first Rhodes Scholar. Mayor Kenney reminded us that “Sometimes the issues that we face seem very daunting, but the things we do have ripple effects in hundreds of lives.”

Our afternoon keynote speaker, Majora Carter, was introduced by Kirtrina Baxter, community organizer for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.  As an urban revitalization strategist, Majora Carter discussed her work in the South Bronx, which is founded on the idea that you don’t have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. She talked about how local initiatives that give low status neighborhoods access to greener spaces, technology, and greater community power can improve neighborhoods and remove the stigma of being a “bad place.”

After Majora Carter’s address, Mitch Little returned to the podium to give a brief overview of the 2017 Shared Prosperity Progress Report. The full Progress Report can be found here. The Call to Action was led by representatives from PowerCorpsPHL, a program focused on environmental stewardship, workforce development and youth violence prevention. Audience members were also given the opportunity to share what they would do to support their commitment to shared prosperity after the summit.

On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, thank you for supporting this event and for your ongoing commitment to our city and its residents!

Additional materials from the event:

4th Annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit

4th Annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit

One City, One Future: Building Shared Prosperity from the Ground Up

November 30, 2017

Convening community members, service providers, policy-makers and advocates, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) held its 4th Annual Uniting to Fight Poverty Summit. The theme of this event was One City, One Future: Building Shared Prosperity from the Ground Up. Mitchell Little, Executive Director of CEO started the day by welcoming everyone before turning the floor over to Omar Woodard of the GreenLight Fund to introduce the Morning Keynote speaker, State Representative Chris Rabb.

Rep. Chris Rabb’s speech set the tone for the entire day. He spoke about how we not only need to reclaim the language we use when we talk about poverty, but also expand our understanding of wealth. Wealth does not only apply to finances. Rep. Rabb stated “I don’t like to talk about [financial] wealth when I talk about shared prosperity, because there are so many other forms of wealth that we have to uplift.” Rep. Rabb also discussed the important role that our ancestors play in what we do today; they are the ones who started the fight centuries ago and it is up to us to finish it.

After the Morning Keynote Address, participants broke into one of five breakout sessions:

  • Community-Controlled Affordable Housing: Community Land Trusts as a Not-so-New Anti-Gentrification Tool
  • Building Community Power through Consumer Protection
  • When Community Organizing Places Your Agency in the Crosshairs: Learning from the Destruction of ACORN
  • Strengthening Community Engagement and Organizing through Capacity Building
  • Standing with Philadelphia’s Immigrant Communities in a Time of Uncertainty

During lunch there was a powerful spoken word performance by Shirmina Smith and Ruja Ballard from the Philly Youth Poetry Movement. They did two pieces on what it is like to be young, female, black and poor in the world today. You can find them @yourfavoritejawns_ on Instagram.

The afternoon plenary session began with remarks from Mayor James Kenney, who was introduced by Hazim Hardeman, Temple University’s first Rhodes Scholar. Mayor Kenney reminded us that “Sometimes the issues that we face seem very daunting, but the things we do have ripple effects in hundreds of lives.”

Our afternoon keynote speaker, Majora Carter, was introduced by Kirtrina Baxter, community organizer for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.  As an urban revitalization strategist, Majora Carter discussed her work in the South Bronx, which is founded on the idea that you don’t have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. She talked about how local initiatives that give low status neighborhoods access to greener spaces, technology, and greater community power can improve neighborhoods and remove the stigma of being a “bad place.”

After Majora Carter’s address, Mitch Little returned to the podium to give a brief overview of the 2017 Shared Prosperity Progress Report. The full Progress Report can be found here. The Call to Action was led by representatives from PowerCorpsPHL, a program focused on environmental stewardship, workforce development and youth violence prevention. Audience members were also given the opportunity to share what they would do to support their commitment to shared prosperity after the summit.

On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, thank you for supporting this event and for your ongoing commitment to our city and its residents!

Additional materials from the event:

CEO Seeks Shared Prosperity Fellows

As a Shared Prosperity Fellow, you will serve as an ambassador for CEO and work alongside stakeholders from government, philanthropic agencies, academia, business and consumer communities, all in an effort to achieve a common understanding of the dynamics of poverty in Philadelphia and be an active participant in making change around these complex issues.

Shared Prosperity Fellowships are offered in CEO’s policy and operations departments. The unpaid fellowship positions are open for undergraduate, recent graduates, and graduate students during the Spring 2018 (15-25 hours/week based on the Fellow’s class schedule). Option to apply for Summer 2018 during fellowship if accepted.

Applications will be reviewed and offers will be extended on a rolling basis.

A complete application with job descriptions is available here. Applications are due by Wednesday December 20th, 2017.

Real Change for Our City’s Panhandlers

Real Change for Our City’s Panhandlers

November 15, 2017

#RealChange

                This past July, the Office of Homeless Services launched the #RealChange campaign “Show You Care, But Not Right Here,” an effort to address the recent rise in panhandling in Philadelphia. November’s Roundtable featured Liz Hersh, Director of the Office of Homeless Services. Hersh discussed the current state of panhandling in Philadelphia by sharing the results of a research study conducted by OHS, as well as what the #RealChange campaign aims to do.

To address peoples’ concerns, OHS conducted a study to figure out the demographics of panhandlers and why they panhandle. The results of the study showed that not all panhandlers are homeless, but they are experiencing economic insecurity. Many live in subsidized housing or rely on disability income and use panhandling to supplement their income. On average, panhandlers earn $20 a day, $60 at most, and as low as $7 a day. Hersh mapped the demographics of people experiencing homelessness, and revealed that the panhandling population is not representative of the homeless population. The panhandling population is younger, whiter and more representative of the population impacted by the opioid epidemic.

The research study asked participants if they would be interested in a plan to address panhandling. OHS responded with Real Change, a public education campaign, and the Text to Give Campaign, an alternative for people who are not comfortable giving money on the street. Since July, $4,300 have been raised from 1500 donors. The money from this campaign will be used to provide housing and services for people living on the street. OHS also hopes to provide support for low-barrier employment —  a strategy for creating low-skill jobs for people with behavioral health or other challenges that may shut them out of the traditional labor market.

After the presentation, roundtable attendees broke up into small groups to discuss the following questions: What is needed to develop and expand opportunities for low barrier employment? And how can we create new incentives for those who are content to panhandle on the street, so that they will come in for services and receive support in locating alternatives to panhandling?

Roundtable attendees suggested that coalition building be used as starting point, so that different organizations can know what programs are out there and figure out how to align their efforts. As an example of a new opportunity for low-barrier employment, one table suggested a service where businesses can have sidewalks shoveled and salted, alleys cleaned and other services that aren’t covered by the City.  Other tables emphasized the need for transparency and peer outreach to help people trust programs and turn away from panhandling. Overall, everyone agreed there is a need to communicate a mutual benefit from these programs; there is a return on investment and an intrinsic value to connecting people to the dignity and stability that can come from earning an income.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this Roundtable!

 

A Running Start Seeks Project Manager

The City of Philadelphia seeks an experienced Project Manager to coordinate development of a “one-stop” IT system that enables families to enroll in publicly-funded child care and pre-k across multiple systems. The PM serves as first point of contact with external vendor and partner agencies, driving  system design and implementation to ensure the project is delivered on time, within scope, and within budget. Part-time during 6-month planning phase; full-time for 2-year implementation period. Minimum of 5 years’ experience, including managing development of similarly complex systems. Experience with education or social service systems a plus. Click here for a full description.

Mayor Kenney announces the creation of an Eviction Task Force

Mayor Jim Kenney announced the formation of an Eviction Task Force to reduce the number of evictions and buffer the effects on low income residents in the Philadelphia. The city is facing a housing crisis due to a shortage of safe and affordable housing. Research shows between 2010-2015, one in fourteen Philadelphia renters faced a formal eviction filing. Last year alone 24,000 evictions were filed in the city.

Mayor Kenney signed an Executive Order establishing the task force. Twenty-seven members have been appointed with experience in housing, landlord-tenant matters, legal services and other related fields. It will be chaired by Liz Hersh, the Director of the Office of Homeless Services and Mitchell Little, the Director of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity.

For more details about the Eviction Task Force, see the full press release by clicking here.

We can overcome economic inequality, but what about the poverty of the spirit?

Article appears on newsworks.org.

By Mitch Little, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity

Joy comes with the morning. That’s what the psalms teach us: Every trial, every tribulation, can and must be endured — that, with perseverance and purity of purpose, we can — we shall — overcome.

It’s the message of hope I attempted to impart to my team in the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity after the disturbing events in Charlottesville. In truth, this extraordinary group always seems to be the ones lifting me, with their resolve, determination, and abiding goodness.

We have the privilege of helping Mayor Kenney coordinate and execute a plan to combat poverty in our city, allowing Philadelphia’s low-income residents to realize economic security and move into the middle class.

We have an ambitious, aggressive plan to accelerate the path out of poverty for our fellow citizens. Efforts, which include standout programs like PowerCorps PHL and the Center for Employment Opportunities, are wide-ranging and collectively focused on expanding opportunities for everyone, from recent high school graduates to those re-entering the workforce after incarceration.

But despite our best efforts, our job is not yet complete. For too many of our fellow Philadelphians, each morning brings the joys of life and family, yes, but also the hard realities and struggles of a life in poverty.

And let us be clear: Being poor is not a lifestyle choice. It does not reveal character flaws. Although, coping with it does require more character than we ought to expect from one another.

Which brings me back to Charlottesville.

Read the full article »

CEO seeks Shared Prosperity Fellows

As a Shared Prosperity Fellow, you will serve as an ambassador for CEO and work alongside stakeholders from government, philanthropic agencies, academia, business and consumer communities, all in an effort to achieve a common understanding of the dynamics of poverty in Philadelphia and be an active participant in making change around these complex issues.

Shared Prosperity Fellowships are offered in CEO’s policy department. The following fellowship positions are open for undergraduate and graduate students during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 (15-25 hours/week based on Fellow’s class schedule).  Note that preference will be given to Fall 2017 applicants who are available to serve for a full academic year.

Applications will be reviewed and offers will be extended on a rolling basis.

A complete application with job descriptions is available here. Applications are due by Friday, August 18th, 2017.

A Running Start seeks a Planning Consultant

The Planning Consultant will conduct research and development for the Running Start Early Childhood Policy Fellowship Program. The goal of this program is to develop a cadre of emerging professionals of color who are equipped to assume organizational leadership and policy roles in Philadelphia’s nonprofit and public early childhood sectors. The Planning Consultant will work with a team of advisors and stakeholder groups to develop the program. S/he will report to the Director of Children and Youth Strategies in the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO). The Fund for Philadelphia has been delegated by CEO to serve as fiscal sponsor for this project. This is a part-time consultancy for six months.

Additional information about the position, CEO and A Running Start Philadelphia can be found here.