5 Pennsylvania Organizations Working To Break The Cycle Of Poverty

In difficult economic times, it's important for someone to look out for those in Pennsylvania who are struggling. These organizations all take different strategies toward a single goal: the eradication of poverty in the state. If you're in need, or if you're looking for a way to help out others, one of these groups can point you in the right direction. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Groups Fighting Poverty in Pennsylvania

Organization Headquarters Focus
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Philadelphia Literacy programs, advocating for increased access to preschool, helping families save for education, tax preparation, providing emergency food boxes, job training, and many other initiatives
Valley Youth House Locations throughout the state Serving at-risk youth by offering emergency shelter, substance abuse programs, mentoring, and therapeutic recreation at Camp Fowler
Project HOME Philadelphia Helps people suffering from chronic homelessness with affordable housing, opportunities for employment, medical care, and education
New Kensington Community Development Corporation Philadelphia Revitalizing neighborhoods and strengthening communities through real estate development, creating green spaces, and supporting small businesses
People's Emergency Center Philadelphia Aims to help local families find financial security through early childhood education, free skills courses, financial counseling, and affordable housing units

The Story of Project HOME

Poverty in Pennsylvania Statistics

The Impact of People's Emergency Center

Pennsylvania Education Statistics

Metric Result
High school graduates, age 25+ 90.6%
Total public school enrollment 1.7 million
Drop-out rate 1.7%
Average teacher salary $67,535
Average SAT score - Math 531
Average SAT score - Reading & Writing 540
High school students attending private schools 13%
Students receiving special education services 284,357
High school graduation rate 86.1% (national average 84.1%)
3 and 4-year-olds in preschool 47.5%

In Depth

Bookended by the two major cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Keystone State houses a diverse range of communities, from bustling urban metropolises to isolated rural towns. Facing numerous financial difficulties, like the disappearance of certain industries and the rising cost of renting and buying a home, many residents of the state struggle to make it from one day to the next. If you're interested in learning more about the work being done to help counteract these tough economic times, then here are, in no particular order, five Pennsylvania organizations working to break the cycle of poverty.

At #1 is United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Bringing together the private sector, philanthropy, government, and community organizations, this local chapter of United Way works to fight against intergenerational poverty, focusing on boosting the success of every child and the stability of every family in the area. This region is particularly in need of assistance, with over 705,000 adults and children in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey living below the poverty line.

In collaboration with a team of partner organizations, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey has developed and deployed a number of signature programs for people of all ages. Its Early Grade Literacy program, for example, targets young people as they begin their experiences in education, aiming to have them reach proficient reading levels by the end of third grade. Elsewhere, the Job Opportunities Investment Network trains and educates lower-skilled workers, ultimately matching them with employment opportunities. If you are interested in supporting this nonprofit, consider signing up to volunteer or attending one of its events.

In collaboration with a team of partner organizations, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey has developed and deployed a number of signature programs for people of all ages.

Coming in at #2 is Valley Youth House, founded in 1973 as a single shelter in Lehigh Valley. Since then, the organization has expanded to over 250 residential sites throughout Pennsylvania, committed to helping vulnerable young people get back on their feet and build a foundation for the future. Throughout its history, it has served more than 22,000 clients across its seventy-four programs.

Taking a collaborative approach to its work with young people, V.Y.H. focuses its efforts on a range of areas, like prevention, intervention, emergency services, independent living and permanency services, and therapeutic recreation and adventure. Camp Fowler, for instance, is a therapeutic, challenge-based summer camp for low-income kids ages ten and up, while programs like Allentown Youth Works connect those between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four with permanent jobs. Those who want to get involved with Valley Youth House can donate to specific initiatives, like Sheltering Pride, a housing service for LGBTQ young people, or can sign up as a mentor.

In the #3 spot is Project HOME, founded in 1989 and based in Philadelphia. With the second part of its name standing for Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, and Education, this nonprofit provides services to people who are experiencing chronic homelessness, with 832 units of affordable housing developed as of June 2019. Beyond supplying accommodation, Project HOME also works to address the root causes of homelessness.

Beyond supplying accommodation, Project HOME also works to address the root causes of homelessness.

On the employment front, Project HOME runs its own Adult Learning and Workforce Development Program, offering computer and literacy classes, career training, and other educational and employment-related pathways. For medical services, this organization sees currently and formerly homeless people at its 28,000 square-foot Stephen Klein Wellness Center. In addition, it also engages politically from time to time, with its Advocacy and Public Policy Department working with numerous coalitions across the country. If you are interested in supporting Project HOME, you can purchase resident-made gifts through its online shop or sign up to become a volunteer.

At #4 is New Kensington Community Development Corporation. Established in 1985 and active in the neighborhoods of Kensington, Fishtown, Port Richmond, and elsewhere in Philadelphia, this organization strives to strengthen communities through sustainable development, taking a multi-faceted approach to neighborhood revitalization. Since its founding, NKCDC has assisted over 4,000 low- and moderate-income families in the purchase of their first homes.

Specific areas of focus for NKCDC include real estate development, business resources, community engagement, and affordable housing. All across the city, this organization breathes life into abandoned buildings, working to find new uses for old factories and to partner with governmental agencies on brownfield redevelopment. Furthermore, NKCDC hosts free workshops on first-time home-buying in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. If you want to get involved with NKCDC, you can sign up to stay informed on its work or even rent out its garden for a community or private event.

Furthermore, NKCDC hosts free workshops on first-time home-buying in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Finally, at #5 is People's Emergency Center, founded in 1972 by Jim Hallam and Bob Edgar as a student service ministry. Based in West Philadelphia, P.E.C. seeks to strengthen families and communities while also stimulating change. Today, this organization provides an array of services for its users, including affordable housing, job training, and education, all in its mission to help its clients obtain housing security and financial stability.

To help local families secure accommodation, P.E.C. offers emergency, transitional, and permanent housing. In addition, through its Center for Parenting and Early Childhood Education, it provides things like summer and after-school programs, conflict-resolution training, and field trips for families. Elsewhere, the Center for Digital Inclusion and Training has free courses in computer skills and technological literacy, while the Families First building hosts financial counseling, covering topics like banking, budgeting, and debt elimination. Those who wish to learn more about People's Emergency Center can inquire about volunteering or make donations online.