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Three Takeaways from the Summit

Which moments were most memorable to you?

More than 350 leaders across sectors and communities throughout Greater Philadelphia spent the morning together to deepen their understanding of how to better collaborate to build a more connected, equitable, and prosperous region.  

The program featured John Kania, founder of Collective Change Lab, who spoke about how we can prioritize people and authentic relationships to achieve greater impact on intractable problems like poverty. The program also included presentations from leaders of Charlotte, NC’s Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative, a $250 million public-private collaboration that was created in the wake of research showing the city had the nation’s largest opportunity gap.  

Emceed by the incomparable Sara Lomax of WURD Radio, the morning was full of meaningful conversations and insights. 

In case you missed it, here are our top three takeaways from the day: 



Charlotte, NC leaders were stunned to learn that among the largest 50 regions in the US, they were last when it comes to economic mobility and opportunity. They leveraged their outrage, set aside their differences, and put forward real investments of money, time, and reputation to create the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative. While Philadelphia landed at 25 on the economic mobility list that motivated Charlotte, Philadelphia has for years had the highest poverty rate among large US cities. We should learn from their example, get outraged, and collaborate for better solutions. 

 “Charlotte aggressively addresses its challenges. There are hurdles and barriers, but that attitude is the biggest reason why the Mayor’s Equity Initiative was successful.”

Blair Sanford, Executive Director, Charlotte Executive Leadership Council 



Poverty and inequity are complex and rooted in systems that have been built over hundreds of years. While we know a lot about how we can begin to remove barriers and uplift people and communities experiencing poverty, there is no magic wand—no one perfect solution. But if we can develop enough trust and goodwill to bring people to the table to muddle through the challenges alongside one another, we’ll go much further than if we wait for a perfect solution that everyone agrees upon.

“Do you want results Or do you want to be right? If we only talk to each other about what we agree on, we’ll never move forward.”

Chekemma Fulmore Townsend, President, Hamilton Family Charitable Trust 



More than 350 people made time to come together and learn how they might contribute—or contribute more—to the fight against poverty. And that was just a fraction of the thousands of people who work tirelessly to improve the lives of their neighbors. United Way is privileged to partner directly with more than 120 nonprofit organizations working in communities across Greater Philadelphia and 270 businesses that invest in the mission to fight poverty and expand opportunity. 

“Philadelphia has so much possibility. With all of us in this room, there’s no reason we can’t build equity and generational wealth in our city.”

Bill Golderer, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey 


Only by working together can we create lasting, sustainable change. There is much to do, and our success depends on our ability to build strong partnerships rooted in trust and deep respect. 

Check out the Summit photo gallery on Facebook. And access recordings from the day on 

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