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!

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