THE HUFFINGTON POST • Pew Charitable Trust invests millions into Delaware Valley programs

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Originally published by The Huffington Post

Pew Charitable Trust invests millions into Delaware Valley programs

University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative has trained nearly 400 people since 2011. • Photo by Conrad Erb

Over the past 25 years, the Pew Charitable Trusts has awarded more than $200 million to approximately 300 nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia and surrounding Pennsylvania counties.

Last week, the independent nonprofit organization announced that it will provide $6.98 million, over the next three years, to 41 area nonprofits that serve some of the region’s most vulnerable adults.

“The Philadelphia region is home to large numbers of people in need, including adults facing unemployment and behavioral health issues,” said Frazierita Klasen, Pew’s Philadelphia Vice President.

“Pew is very pleased to support these agencies that are making a difference every day through their compassion and commitment to evidence-based best practices.”

Through the funding support, the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services in Philadelphia (Pew Fund) seeks to empower low-skilled, unemployed, and underemployed adults, helping them to obtain and retain sustainable, competitive employment. It also aims to improve behavioral health outcomes, for vulnerable adults throughout various communities, by strengthening their ability to achieve independence and stability.

Courtesy of the Pew Fund, more than 35,000 people, including those struggling with homelessness, mental health issues, and extended unemployment, will be assisted on an annual basis.

Among the list of 2017 Fund for Health and Human Services grant award winners are the Delaware County Community College Educational Foundation, Delaware County Women Against Rape, Domestic Violence Center of Chester County and Tech Impact.

“This generous grant from Pew Charitable Trust will set scores of young adults on a pathway to training and careers in the fast growing field of technology, opening the door to sustainable wages and lifting families out of poverty,” said Grace Harpole, Tech Impact’s Director of Programs.

By providing hands on nonprofit technology support, through empowering communities and nonprofits to use technology, Tech Impact’s award-winning program, ITWorks, offers a 16-week program that provides training, certifications, and experience for participants to obtain IT positions.

“We are grateful for the continued support and guidance that enables this important work in our community.”

The Pew Fund also awarded an advancement grant to the University City District (UCD), a partnership of West Philadelphia’s universities, hospitals, businesses, and residents. The collaborative seeks to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the neighborhood.

The $600,000 grant, provided over three years, will help UCD expand its successful West Philadelphia Skills Initiative.

“The Skills Initiative represents a pioneering approach to workforce development. It is employer-driven, place-based and directed by an organization with nontraditional human service roots,” stated UCD Executive Director Matt Bergheiser.

“We’re deeply grateful that Pew has given us fuel to continue to innovate, and to fulfill our broader organizational mission of changing places and changing lives in West Philadelphia.”

Established in 2011, the initiative builds on UCD’s relationships with major employers including the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, University of the Sciences, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Brandywine Realty, and Intech Construction.

In the past four years, the initiative has trained nearly 400 low-income individuals. Sixty percent have completed the training, and 90 percent of them have been placed in jobs that provide benefits and an average starting salary of $13.30 an hour.

Over the next three years, the new Pew Fund support will allow the program to expand from serving 140 individuals a year to at least 350. By the end of 2021, the initiative plans to be assisting 500 individuals annually.