PHILADELPHIA – The National League of Cities (NLC) announced yesterday that Philadelphia has been selected as one of seven cities to take part in its new technical assistance initiative, Cities Addressing Basic Needs to Promote Postsecondary and Workforce Success. The initiative, supported by The Kresge Foundation, is part of a national effort that aims to ensure students can complete college degrees and earn industry credentials without facing hardship in meeting basic needs like food, housing and transportation.
“As a city, we have a critical role to play in increasing opportunities and improving equitable outcomes for all our residents,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Breaking down barriers our residents face in meeting their basic needs is key to realizing the goals outlined in our citywide workforce development and inclusive growth strategies. I applaud the National League of Cities and The Kresge Foundation for shining a spotlight on this critical issue, and I look forward to driving positive results in Philadelphia.”
With an intentional focus on addressing basic needs, Philadelphia will increase support for individuals struggling to stay on course while enrolled in college or other forms of postsecondary education and training. This cross-sector partnership, led by the Office of Workforce Development in conjunction with the City’s Health and Human Services departments, Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) and Philadelphia Works, will result in a data-driven action plan to target resources and supports for students who struggle to access housing, food, childcare and other foundational resources critical for educational success.
“We are excited to work with our partners on a comprehensive strategy to ensure seamless access to supports for new and returning CCP students, as well as individuals experiencing poverty across public and private postsecondary institutions in Philadelphia,” said Sheila Ireland, executive director of the City’s Office of Workforce Development.
“We will not see our vision of economic opportunity for all Philadelphia residents if we keep hitting at the fruit and never address the root of poverty,” said H. Patrick Clancy, president and CEO of Philadelphia Works, the city’s workforce development board. “Anticipating life’s challenges and having a plan that supports people through them sets up our career seekers for success. We are excited about this partnership and proud that our workforce system understands the importance of supporting individuals at every point on their career pathway; especially those who have made a decision to further their education.”
In 2018, Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice released a report documenting high rates of food and housing insecurity at both Temple University and Community College of Philadelphia: Approximately one in three students at Temple and more than one in two at CCP are affected.
“This is a national problem that is especially challenging in Philadelphia, where poverty so often undermines college dreams,” said Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, founding director of the Hope Center. “We look forward to working with partners across the city to craft supports for students’ basic needs so that they can obtain credentials and support their families.”
The Community College of Philadelphia has centered student success in its strategic plan and is working to expand existing student support programs and to ensure that they are easily accessible to all students.
“We understand how barriers to basic needs affect our students’ ability to persist and complete their studies,” said College President Dr. Donald Guy Generals. “As the city’s college, we look forward to partnering on this initiative to improve our students’ lives while ensuring a stronger economic future for Philadelphia.”
“The data underscores the obstacles posed by hunger and homelessness as residents try to complete their degrees or certificates and better their lives,” said Clifford M. Johnson, executive director of the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families. “We look forward to working with Mayor Kenney and other City officials to ensure individuals pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities are able to study, learn, graduate and begin careers that provide economic mobility.”
In addition to Philadelphia, six other cities selected for this technical assistance initiative include Chula Vista, CA; Denver, CO; Oakland, CA; Richmond, VA; Rochester, NY; and San Diego, CA.
The initiative will run through June 2021 and culminate with a national policy briefing in Washington, D.C., where mayors, city leaders and their partners will share lessons learned and strategies regarding this work.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within the National League of Cities, helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities. www.nlc.org
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. www.kresge.org