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Photo: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
Photo: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

United Way set to launch The Knowledge Center to alleviate poverty in the region

The newly formed hub will serve to provide data, evaluation and learning in the fight against economic inequalities throughout Greater Philadelphia and South…

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To help address poverty in the region, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) has officially announced the launch of The Knowledge Center.

The new center will serve as a go-to evidence-based hub that provides insightful and continuous analysis and data surrounding the challenges facing our communities. 

The data will then be used to guide solutions that go towards alleviating poverty and improving life outcomes for the region’s most vulnerable populations.

UWGPSNJ has also announced that Dr. Andrea Anderson, the organization’s new chief knowledge officer, will lead The Knowledge Center and be responsible for developing, implementing and leading its programs and activities. Her career spans 27 years, during which she has conducted program evaluation, policy analysis, and applied research for nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and civic leadership groups in both domestic and international arenas.  

“We are fortunate to have Andrea at the helm. Under Andrea’s leadership, the Center represents an extension of United Way’s commitment to using data and research to inform policy, grant-making, and investment decisions in the public and private sector,” said Bill Golderer, president & CEO of UWGPSNJ, in a press release. 

As chief knowledge officer, Dr. Anderson will work closely alongside local and national research partners to design and develop strategies to assess regional assets and challenges related to poverty. 

The data collected by The Knowledge Center will help maximize the value of the region’s large economic mobility initiatives, increase the understanding of the drivers of poverty, and promote operational impact investments. 

“I believe that we can create a table big enough for everyone invested in reducing poverty and expanding opportunity in the region — our grant partners, elected officials, and corporate sponsors — to collectively make meaning of data and evaluation findings, and learn how we can all be more effective as we move toward our shared vision,” said Dr. Anderson.

Philly’s Economic Challenges

Philadelphia is the most economically disadvantaged of the largest cities in the United States, with over 23% of residents living below the poverty line ​​— less than $26,000 a year for a family of four. In addition, 11% live on less than half that.

This equates to more than 350,000 people living everyday in a financial crisis.

In 2021, UWGPSNJ and the City of Philadelphia partnered to create The Promise, a new multi-year initiative to raise funds and invest in the city in a way that allows it to tackle poverty head on through collaborative action.  

The Promise has invested $4.8 million in high-performing community partners to connect individuals and families to important economic security programs and public benefits that can create stability and a path out of poverty.

The inaugural focus of The Knowledge Center will be to learn and evaluate The Promise’s agenda to have at least 100,000 fewer people in the region experiencing poverty by 2025.

It aims to do so by working alongside community members to increase their income and build sustainable careers. 

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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