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The Promise, Philadelphia’s Poverty Action Fund, Launches Philadelphia’s Largest-Ever City-Wide Record-Clearing Initiative

Beginning May 21, 30 clinics in 30 weeks will connect people to record clearing services and employment opportunity across Philadelphia communities

PHILADELPHIA, PA - May 12, 2022 – The Promise, the public-private anti-poverty coalition powered by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), and in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, announces the next step of its 2021 Jobs & Opportunity Challenge: the launch of its 30 record-clearing clinics in 30 weeks, and the grantees who will host them.

Some 350,000 Philadelphians have arrest and conviction records that pose obstacles for returning to the workforce, making this a widespread economic issue for the entire region and a key driver of racial and economic inequity. Black Americans make up 12.6 percent of the general population, but constitute 27 percent of all arrests—and Black Americans with a conviction are 50% less likely to get an employment offer. All formerly incarcerated people face an unemployment rate that is five times higher than average. It’s not just employment—experts estimate that past convictions create over 40,000 barriers to education, housing, financial opportunities, professional licensing, and more. It’s estimated that each year convictions cost lost wages in excess of $372 billion and cost the United States economy some $87 billion in lost GDP.

“The Promise is focused on removing barriers in order to secure and stabilize lives and grow income. Clearing past convictions creates opportunities in the workforce, which in turn helps break the cycle of economic hardship holding so many Philadelphians back,” says Michael Banks, executive director of The Promise. “With clinics held across the city, The Jobs and Opportunity Challenge will help Philadelphians conveniently access legal assistance to start this
process and start moving their lives forward.”

The Promise made grants to 18 nonprofit organizations that applied to host record-clearing clinics in their respective communities around Philadelphia, with onsite legal services provided by Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE), Community Legal Services (CLS), and Defender Association of Philadelphia. The goal is to help individuals with past convictions clear their records, and in so doing, eliminate major barriers to employment.

Grantees include:

African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA) serves African and Caribbean immigrants, refugees and families with social and legal services and more.
Beyond Literacy expands opportunities and improves lives by unleashing the power of literacy through free, high-quality education.
CEIBA promotes the economic development and financial inclusion of the Latino community with access to quality housing.
Community College of Philadelphia Foundation provides resources to enhance and enrich the educational experiences of and professional opportunities for its students.
Community of Compassion CDC offers a wide array of programs that improve quality of life, promote community development, and empower individuals to reach their potential.
Eastern North Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp assists approximately 18,000 jobseekers annually with job training, job search, and other services.
The Elevation Project serves both formerly incarcerated and at-risk individuals with an array of services to empower new beginnings and open new opportunities.
EMIR Healing Center serves the families of homicide victims in Philadelphia through victims’ advocacy and support, utilizing a trauma-informed approach to care.
Institute for Community Justice, a program of Philadelphia FIGHT, is a comprehensive prison service and reentry program providing health linkages, supportive services, education, and advocacy.
● JEVS Human Services provides skills development, job readiness, career services, vocational rehabilitation and other services.
New Kensington Community Development Corporation advances social equity and economic empowerment by creating opportunities for residents to choose and shape their neighborhoods.
NoMo (New Options More Opportunities) Foundation provides a safe space for children and families to develop life skills and nurture their potential to break the cycle of poverty.
Philadelphia Bail Fund, eliminating money bail in Philadelphia and providing bail assistance for those who are indigent and cannot afford bail.
The Reawakening Agency supports people in a transitional phase of life after incarceration and/or homelessness through empowering services and resources.
Revolutionary Vision CSC offers services and programs to address nutrition and food access, re-education, and financial empowerment through job readiness training.
Southwest Community Development Corporation improves quality of life for people in Southwest Philadelphia by promoting economic development and opportunity.
Uplift Solutions delivers entrepreneurial solutions to support underserved communities and improve outcomes for justice-involved individuals in the greater Philadelphia area.
● Urban League of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the National Urban League, empowers underserved communities to ensure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights.

The first clinic takes place May 21st, from 10AM to 1PM at 1212 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146, hosted by NOMO Foundation. This is part of a small pilot phase that runs through June.

The full schedule of clinics can be found at Clinics will be added as they are confirmed.

In each clinic, the legal service partner will perform an intake and walk the participant through their public record, while providing a high-level view of services needed to clear a record. Within 30 days, and once attorneys have reviewed the person’s record in full, the legal service partner will follow up to offer services for which the person is eligible, including filing for expungement and/or applying for a pardon, as well as in-house counsel representation where applicable. The clinics are not a quick fix, but they are the first, most necessary step in the process of record clearing.

“The Jobs & Opportunity initiative builds on work all three legal organizations have been doing but scales it up to reach many more people with the potential to create a much bigger, game-changing impact,” says Taylor Pacheco, deputy executive director of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity. “This is an ambitious and powerful approach to solving a widespread problem.”

In conjunction with the record-clearing clinics, The Promise will kick off a public awareness campaign to 1) encourage anyone with a past conviction to take advantage of the clinics’ free legal counseling, which can help them make a new start; and 2) inform the general public about the impact of past convictions on individuals, families, and our local economy.

For more information, visit

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