PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is pleased to announce generous contributions from the William Penn Foundation and Spring Point Partners to support the activities of the Philly Joy Bank. The Philly Joy Bank is a pilot program of the Philadelphia Community Action Network (CAN) a collective impact stakeholder group focused on reducing racial disparities in infant mortality. This generous funding will help provide a monthly guaranteed income for approximately 250 pregnant Philadelphians with the aim of reducing racial disparities in birth outcomes. This income is no-strings-attached which respects the dignity and autonomy of participants and allows them the freedom to use the cash as they determine to best address their needs.
“Infant mortality in Philadelphia is a solvable crisis,” said Health commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “We know that being able to better support pregnant people and new parents helps keep babies alive. As the poorest big city in the country, this is not always easy, especially in areas of the city that are being crushed by generational poverty and systemic racism. The Philly Joy Bank draws on the successes of other no-strings-attached guaranteed income projects to help break those cycles. We could not be more pleased to have generous donors like the William Penn Foundation and Spring Point Partners helping to kickstart this wonderful program.”
Of the top ten most populated US cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of infant mortality in the first year of life. When breaking down the data by race and ethnicity, Black infants in our city are over four times more likely to die before their first birthday than White infants. The Philly Joy Bank is one of the first guaranteed income during pregnancy pilots. The Health Department believes that giving cash during and immediately after pregnancy is a promising approach to addressing these racial disparities and improving birth outcomes. In addition to the guaranteed income, program participants will also be offered voluntary support such as benefits and financial counseling, home visiting, lactation support, and doulas.
“The William Penn Foundation has long understood that parents are our children’s first teachers. And, just like the case with classroom teachers, these “in home teachers” must have the resources they need to create safe, stimulating, fun, and educational environments,” said Shawn McCaney, Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation. He adds that, “It is a new approach helping adults make sure that our youngest residents begin life with all the opportunities they need to thrive.”
Joanna Visser Adjoian, Senior Program Officer, Social Justice of Spring Point Partners explains “they are proud to support the groundbreaking work of the Philly Joy Bank. The core principles the pilot is based on, including program design and leadership by directly impacted people, the power of unrestricted cash through guaranteed income programs, and an explicit focus on meeting the self-determined needs of historically oppressed people, align directly with Spring Point’s social justice grantmaking strategy.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Nia Samuels is a lived-experience expert with the Philadelphia Community Action Network (CAN) and a perinatal community health worker. The CAN is a group of local parents, researchers, doctors, policy workers, birth workers, mental health professionals. They concluded that monthly cash supplements during pregnancy and the first year of a child’s life would relieve one of the most significant sources of stress for pregnant people by providing direct financial assistance. Nia will talk about the journey the CAN took to develop the Philly Joy Bank.
From the generous contributions of the William Penn Foundation and Spring Point Partners, the Health Department has received over $3 million to support the Philly Joy Bank. The City hopes to reach a fundraising goal of $6 million and launch the program in early 2024. To be eligible for the Philly Joy Bank pilot, residents must be pregnant, have a household income of less than $100,000 per year annually, and live in one of the three Philly neighborhoods with the highest rates of very low birth weight: Cobbs Creek, Strawberry Mansion, Nicetown-Tioga.
For more information on the Philly Joy Bank and The Philadelphia City Fund, please go to their websites at https://philacityfund.org/programs/philly-joy-bank/ and https://philacityfund.org/programs/