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The School of Social Policy & Practice's Philadelphia Economic Equity Project aims to develop data-driven solutions to economic hardship in the city. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

The Philadelphia Economic Equity Project is surveying approximately 24,000 Philadelphians to understand the economic and social barriers city residents face. 

PEEP, an initiative at the School of Social Policy & Practice, aims to develop data-driven solutions to economic hardship in Philadelphia. This fall, PEEP is sending surveys to randomly selected city mailboxes to gain insight into local economic mobility, according to the SP2 news release

United States Census Bureau data from this month reflected decreased poverty rates and increased income for Philadelphians. To understand this trend, the PEEP survey will invite 24,000 Philadelphia residents to share their financial experiences over 36 months, PEEP Project Director Candice Dias said in the news release. 

PEEP drew inspiration from the New York City Longitudinal Survey of Wellbeing, which has measured New Yorkers’ well-being for over ten years. The survey builds upon the work of the Poverty Tracker Survey established by Columbia University and Robin Hood. 

Former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter is the managing director of SP2’s Center for Public Service and Policy, where PEEP is based.

“This endeavor is about getting the research and work into the hands of those on the frontlines,” Nutter said in the news release. “Just a 1% change in poverty equals improving the lives of 15,000 people in Philadelphia.”

Each survey letter includes $1 to signify PEEP’s commitment to the initiative. People who fully participate in the survey will receive a $25 prepaid card, according to the PEEP website. 

The website informs participants that they can complete the survey through three methods: completing it online, scanning the QR code on the survey invitation, or returning the prepaid postcard to receive a call from PEEP. 

To promote the project’s goal of diversity, equity, and language inclusion, the survey is being offered in several languages to account for neighborhood representation, including English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Russian. 

The project's research team hopes that the information learned from the survey will support policymakers, nonprofit leaders, and community members in improving Philadelphia’s economic health and growth. 

“It’s the first stage of our journey to understand the challenges of Philadelphians who face economic instability and to learn from them about what works to achieve stability,” Dias said.