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Pew awards $4.25 million to address growing Philadelphia violence, create jobs

The grants will go to four local nonprofits, and also serve to close opportunity gaps facing residents.

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The Pew Charitable Trusts recently announced that it is awarding $4.25 million to four Philadelphia nonprofits.

The nonprofits were selected based on their work toward closing opportunity gaps and addressing the growing impact of violence on local residents.

One of the awards is a $3.5 million Pew Fund growth grant over five years to University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to help create paths to economic mobility for nearly 2,500 residents throughout the city. 

Matt Bergheiser, University City District President, told the Philadelphia Business Journal that the new grant will allow the initiative to reach double the amount of people it has already reached.

“A grant like this … just allows us to accelerate the pace and scale of our work to change more lives, to bring more untapped talent to Philadelphia workplaces, and we think it’s transformative for the Philadelphia economy,” he said

With the new funding, the initiative will help increase the number of entry-level workers it prepares for mid level jobs; offer additional coaching and training for program alumni; and expand its services to other neighborhoods and industries throughout the city. 

According to Pew, it's one of the largest grants in University City District’s history. 

The additional Pew Venture grants will go to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Violence Intervention Program, Drexel University's Healing Hurt People program, and Temple University Hospital’s Trauma Victim Support Advocates program

Each will receive venture grants of $250,000 over two years to support their efforts while increasing coordination and opportunities to share practices among providers and with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. 

Scott Charles, the Trauma Outreach Manager at Temple Hospital, said the new grants will be used to add professionals to its trauma team, including a job placement specialist, a social worker, a psychologist and a case manager who will coordinate care. 

“We are going to take one of the worst possible things that could happen to someone and recognize the opportunity that might exist to improve their circumstances,” Charles told The Philadelphia Tribune.

Philadelphia has been seeing a drastic and alarming homicide rate in recent years, already reaching 300 homicides this year earlier this month. 

The city has seen an increase in homicides each year since 2016, including a staggering record 562 homicides in 2021. 

Pew Fund growth grants aim specifically to expand Philadelphia-area health and social services organizations’ capacity to provide high-quality, research-informed services for individuals facing challenges rooted in poverty, while venture grants are designed to help organizations implement promising approaches to new or emerging issues. 

“Pew is pleased to support these incredible organizations that are contributing to the economic mobility, safety, and security of Philadelphians at this critical moment as our region starts to emerge from the pandemic,” said Pew Fund Project Director Kristin Romens, in a press release. 

“We hope to see further evidence that these programs not only help victims recover physically and emotionally from the trauma of violence but also have long-term, positive impacts on the overall well-being of individuals and families,” she added. 

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