Last Thursday, Philadelphians eager to fight the effects of poverty filled the lobby of the Free Library for the official launch of Shared Prosperity Philadelphia (PDF), the City’s plan to reduce the effects of poverty. The event highlighted the spirit and the potential of the plan.
Mayor Michael Nutter spoke on the scope of the problem and the importance of our collaborative approach. CEO Executive Director Eva Gladstein introduced the plan to the public. Then, the audience heard six CEO partners underscore the importance of a collective impact method:
- HACE’s Maria Gonzalez, our board director, spoke about her own experience navigating the benefits system when a relative was ill. She talked about how wraparound services make life easier for everyone, especially the elderly and their family.
- Don Haskin, a vice president at Citi, highlighted the impact poverty has on the business community. In his view, Shared Prosperity Philadelphia helps the private sector by stemming the loss of human capital that occurs when we don’t invest in all of our citizens.
- Community Legal Services’ Cathy Carr pointed out that people aren’t getting access to the safety net that they are entitled to by law. If we don’t help them, families and the city will continue to suffer.
- Wayne Jacobs, co-founder of X-Offenders for Community Empowerment, called for an end to the pipeline to prison. “If we want to keep kids out of jail, we need to prepare them for school,” he said. He also spoke about the many barriers ex-offenders’ face when they try to re-enter the workforce.
- Kelvin Jeremiah of the Philadelphia Housing Authority said that they are committed to providing more units for the homeless, and to maintaining our affordable housing. The city can’t do it alone, he said – collaboration will be the key.
- Being poor is expensive, Clarifi’s Patty Hasson pointed out. She said that in order to help people escape poverty, we need to help them better use what they have, and end the cycle that starts with costly payday loans.
As each speaker finished, they added their pledge to the action plan board in response to the question of “What’s Your Role?” for how they could contribute to the success of Shared Prosperity Philadelphia. When the speakers finished, audience members approached and to contribute their own ideas, advice, and commitments to the board. By the time the chairs had been put away, the Post-It notes were three layers thick.
The comments – some of which are listed below – echoed the mood of the event and the spirit of the report. Poverty is a complex problem. Many people have worked for many years around the city to try and address its different causes and effects. Shared Prosperity is the City’s attempt to view the problem holistically, tracking all of our progress with common metrics. It will bring us together to share our experiences and insight, expanding capacity and heightening efficacy.
After reading the comments submitted on our action plan board, it is clear that our message came across. Here are just a few examples:
- “Reduce Admin Costs for Non-profits, Connect 65+ grassroots organizations; community economic development, financial education, home improvement loans and more” (Urban Affairs Coalition)
- “Serve as a resource for understanding and supporting unique needs of survivors of domestic violence in poverty” (Women Against Abuse)
- “Increase the number of business starts through self employment for those in poverty” (Enterpreneur Works)
- ”Workforce Development, adult literacy, access to career pathways” (District 1199C Training Fund)
- “Improve prison re-entry system; understand the social, cultural, political factors blocking attempts to improve, and make a plan based on insights” (Alisha Jordan)