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Philadelphia City Council Allocates New Funds to Fight Poverty.

Inclusion of The Promise, the Philadelphia Poverty Action Fund, in the City’s Fiscal Year 2024 Operating Budget will fuel efforts to create a more inclusive, equitable Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA – Dec. 15, 2023 – Leaders of grassroots anti-poverty organizations across the city are thanking members of Philadelphia City Council for today’s approval of a $4 million appropriation to The Promise, the Philadelphia Poverty Action Fund, to continue efforts to eradicate poverty in Philadelphia.

“We thank members of City Council for once again demonstrating their resounding commitment to alleviating poverty in this city,” said Michael Banks, Executive Director of The Promise. “With these funds, The Promise will continue to support services that go directly towards helping people increase their income and build sustainable careers. That is why the work of The Promise is so important – it gives people economic mobility and the support they need to get their life on track and succeed.”

“City Council’s support for The Promise is a testament to our shared commitment to help secure, stabilize and drive economic mobility that benefits all Philadelphians,” said Promise Governing Board Member Dalila Wilson-Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “This additional investment will ensure that we continue to make progress toward removing systemic barriers and creating employment opportunities to end poverty in our city. We thank City Council members for their ongoing partnership to advance this vital work.”

Leaders of partner organizations are also offering gratitude to Council members for their approval of the funding.

Otis Bullock, CEO, Greater Philadelphia Community Alliance (GPCA):
“No one organization can solve our most pressing problems alone. The Promise supports organizations like mine and other grassroots, community-led programs in being more collaborative while doing our work. As a result, the GPCA supports and connects South Philly residents to an array of benefits to build economic stability. We are expanding housing counseling and economic empowerment programs. None of this would be possible without the funding from City Council, and for that, we are grateful.”

LaTrista Webb, Founder and Director, The Elevation Project:
“Our mission is to meet the needs of both at-risk and formerly incarcerated individuals by providing holistic services. The simple fact is that we would not be able to do the work that we've done in the last year if it were not for The Promise and, by extension, the support of City Council members. This new funding will be a lifeline for our efforts.”

Belinda Church, Benefits Counselor, African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA):
“I would like to express appreciation to the members of the City Council for their continued efforts on behalf of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents. Through The Promise, ACANA has expanded its capacity to offer free benefits, access assistance, free tax preparation, and criminal record expungement clinics. When residents and their families have stability for their necessities like housing, food, and healthcare, it allows them to consider and implement strategies to further their education, build wealth, and change the trajectory of their futures.”

Background on The Promise:
In March 2020, City Council released its Poverty Action Plan with a series of initiatives to help collectively lift — and keep — 100,000 Philadelphians above the poverty line and help grow their incomes. The plan focused on forming a public-private partnership to support income-based strategies to reduce the number of residents in poverty. The result is The Promise, a one-of-a-kind, public-private partnership powered by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), the City of Philadelphia, and a coalition of community partners.

Even before the pandemic upended the economic and public health of the city, 23% of residents lived on less than $26,000 per year and 11% lived in deep poverty, on less than $13,000. Generations of systemic racism, as well as unequal investment in education, infrastructure, and access to healthcare in communities that experience poverty have limited opportunities for building equity. This, in turn, created substantial barriers to family stability, jobs, and careers. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more Philadelphians into poverty than ever before.

The Promise’s work demonstrates how the City’s investment, combined with private funding, has already yielded huge returns — changing lives and providing hope for thousands of Philadelphians. One example, the Family Stability Challenge, focuses on the unfortunate reality that thousands of families leave millions of dollars in public benefits on the table because they don’t know how to access them.

The Jobs and Opportunity Challenge, the second important initiative of The Promise, helps the many Philadelphians with prior criminal records connect to support to obtain a clear record. The Promise has held 36 clinics on record clearing, attended by more than 5,000 individuals with prior convictions. 1,700 of them were able to meet with attorneys — and two-thirds of them are eligible to move forward with record sealing, expungement, and/or a pardon.