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Philadelphia City Council is forging ahead with its "moonshot" efforts against the city's poverty rate in spite of COVID-19. Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY
Philadelphia City Council is forging ahead with its "moonshot" efforts against the city's poverty rate in spite of COVID-19. Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY

Philadelphia City Council creates $10 million nonprofit fund to fight poverty

The ‘Poverty Action Fund’ is another step in the long journey to pull 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty.

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Just over a year and a month ago, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke visited AL DÍA, and spoke of his, and City Council’s “moonshot” plan to pull 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty and reduce the city’s poverty rate to below 20% by 2024.

That was before COVID-19 became the reality and resulted in the shutdown of the city, state and country. Coming along with that shutdown was an economic downturn that hadn’t been seen since the 2008 recession.

For those businesses that weren’t suited to go virtual, it meant an unfortunate end and resulted in more Philadelphians out of work than before the pandemic.

Despite the bleak outlook as coronavirus cases soar again in the region, Philadelphia City Council looks to be maintaining a positive outlook on its “moonshot.”

At a Nov. 12 meeting of the whole, City Council passed two bills to create the ‘Poverty Action Fund,’ a new nonprofit entity that seeks to pool more of the city’s public and private expertise and put funding towards programs and other forms of aid to pull Philadelphians from poverty.

The nonprofit has a $10 million pool to spread thanks to the other bill that passed on Nov. 12. Councilmember María Quiñones-Sánchez told The Philadelphia Inquirer that that pool could be matched through other donations by the end of the year.

“The Poverty Action Fund is a historic effort that will leverage the best of our public and private sector partners to measurably reduce poverty through direct investments in people and programs, creating family-sustaining jobs and entrepreneurship, education and housing to improve people’s quality of life,” she said in press release after the passage of both bills.

That “direct investment in people and programs” was a goal made back in March as part of City Council’s ‘Poverty Action Plan,’ released just before the pandemic hit.

The prospective nonprofit will also be governed by a board of directors appointed by Clarke, Mayor Jim Kenney, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia.

In addition to Philadelphia and United Way, they are also joined in the effort by members of Philly’s nonprofit and business sectors, and members of Pennsylvania’s state legislature.  

Both bills will now go to Mayor Jim Kenney’s desk for a final sign off.

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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