The Pew Charitable Trusts awarded $3.5 million to West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, a job training program that supports the economic mobility of city residents, on July 20.
WPSI has provided resources, job placement, and training for underemployed and unemployed West Philadelphia residents since 2009. The organization partners with employers to determine high-priority staffing needs that offer family-sustaining wages and an opportunity to move up within the workplace. 95% of participants at WPSI are connected with jobs that pay an average of $18 per hour, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts press release.
Pew's donation will help expand WPSI’s reach. Previously, WPSI worked with 300 residents each year. Pew’s contribution “will help the initiative reach twice as many people,” said Matt Bergheiser, the president of the University City District, in an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Since COVID-19, Philadelphia’s economy has grown more slowly than many other cities nationwide. In low-wage sectors, the city has experienced persistent job losses, impacting Black and female workers the hardest according to a Pew Charitable Trusts and William Penn Foundation study.
The Pew Fund growth grant aims at significantly expanding services and organizations that assist and help citizens facing obstacles related to poverty. The Pew Fund’s project director, Kristin Romens, stated about the grants, “Pew is pleased to support these incredible organizations that are contributing to the economic mobility, safety, and security of Philadelphians at this critical moment as our region starts to emerge from the pandemic.”
The donation to WPSI was part of Pew's $4.25 million donation to four Philadelphia-based nonprofits. Other donations went to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Violence Intervention Program, Drexel University’s Healing Hurt People program, and Temple University Hospital’s Trauma Victim Support Advocates program. Through these donations, Pew intends to expand economic opportunities for Philadelphians and address the growing impacts of violence in the city.