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The Promise Seeks Partners in Criminal Record Sealing and Employment Access Campaign

United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, has released a Call for Collaboration to local and national nonprofit organizations for The Jobs and Opportunity Community Challenge, focusing on criminal record sealing and employment access. This is the second in a series of Community Challenges under a first-of-its-kind public-private anti-poverty program called The Promise, created to produce efficient community-based and scalable results.

The Jobs and Opportunity Community Challenge: Record Sealing and Employment Access will combat poverty by removing barriers to employment. This is in direct response to the more than 400,000 Philadelphians with arrest and conviction records. These Philadelphians face many obstacles returning to the workforce including limitations on credentialing and licensure, and policies precluding them from certain positions and employers.

At a time when employment levels remain low despite many industries in dire need of workers, this effort could be game-changing for citizens and businesses across Philadelphia communities.

“With the national unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people five times the national average, it’s clear there’s a problem and we must step up to fix it,” said Bill Golderer, President & CEO of UWGPSNJ. “The Jobs and Opportunity Community Challenge will help Philadelphians get the information and tools they need to clear their convictions and seek employment so they can improve their lives. A past record should not mean you have to live in poverty. By improving employment access, we will improve workforce efforts in Philadelphia, improve our city’s overall economy and help our neighbors in the process.”

The Promise was launched to reduce Philadelphia’s poverty rate and support an equitable economic recovery from the pandemic To date, UWGPSNJ has raised an additional $8 million in matching private funds with a goal of continuing aggressive fundraising efforts from private donors.

The Challenge will specifically focus on partnerships with legal expertise and/or a deep community reach. Community Hub grantees will collaborate on outreach and engagement and host record sealing and clearing clinics. Legal services grantees will provide direct services such as awareness about Clean Slate laws, identifying records eligible for sealing or expungement, filing petitions to help seal or clear past records; and support for seeking and securing employment.

“At this stage, we are identifying the partners through an RFP (Request for Proposals) process so we can begin to put the model into place,” said Michael Banks, United Way’s Managing Director for Employment Opportunities and Entrepreneurship. “Recruiting clients can be the toughest hurdle. We’re hoping that between the community organizations and the legal services groups who will be part of this program, we are more likely to reach that individual, make them aware of the opportunity and hopefully be able to serve them in a way that puts their life back on track.”

Grants in the range of $35,000-$55,000 will be made available to 15-30 Community Hub grantees. Grants in the range of $200,000-$300,000 will be made available to 2-3 Legal Services grantees.

The Call for Collaboration seeks leading organizations serving the City of Philadelphia to implement strategies to scale and deliver evidence-based approaches to maximize resources and benefits for Philadelphia residents. To learn more about the Jobs and Opportunity Community Challenge Call for Collaborations, click here.

Key Dates
January 14, 2022: Collaboration Proposals Due
March 2022: Awards Announced/Services Begin
March 2022-March 2023: Grant Period

The first community challenge, the Family Stability Community Challenge, announced awards to grantees in February 2021 covering most zip codes in the city. Since that time, these community-based nonprofits have quickly implemented initiatives to increase financial stability through offering free tax preparation, expanding awareness and access to benefits and wage supports, financial and legal counseling, and other mutually reinforcing services. A total of $4.5 million was awarded for these one-year grants. About 23,000 people were assisted in the first six months of the program from March-September. Read more about the Family Stability grantees on The Promise Blog.

The Promise, backed by funding from United Way, the City, and community leaders including a donation of $1 million from Comcast NBCUniversal, has a goal of helping to lift 100,000 people out of poverty over the next five years.

“Through our partnership with The Promise, we’re committed to helping ensure an equitable and inclusive recovery.” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “We’re proud to work alongside Michael Banks and the dedicated United Way team to provide support to local organizations that are equipping people with the resources, tools, and opportunities needed to succeed in the workforce and lift Philadelphians out of poverty.”

For more information on the Jobs and Opportunity Community Challenge, contact The Promise at .

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