If you're not engaged with poverty at some level, 'You're privileged' - Generocity Philly

Purpose

Jun. 14, 2016 12:58 pm

If you’re not engaged with poverty at some level, ‘You’re privileged’

That's what Helen Gym said at a Young Involved Philadelphia panel on systematic poverty and inequality in the city. Here are some takeaways from the event.

Nyron Crawford (standing left), Dwayne Wharton, Cynthia Figueroa, Katie Colaneri and Councilwoman Helen Gym.

(Photo by Tony Abraham)

Poverty can’t be solved through charity or policy. It has to be guided by the communities that are impacted by it.

Community organizing was a solution Councilwoman Helen Gym proposed at a recent Young Involved Philadelphia panel on poverty and inequality in the city, where poverty rates are as high as 26.3 percent.

“I don’t believe poverty is an individualized condition,” Gym said. “Poverty is the result of the dividing up of resources in an incredibly unequal and unfair way.”

With rates as high as 26.3 percent, Gym said engaging with poverty in nearly inevitable. And if you’re not engaged with poverty in any capacity, at any level, at any point in your day as a Philadelphian?

“You’re privileged,” the councilwoman said.

“The hardest part of my day is when I drive from my house in Mt. Airy to North Philadelphia,” said Congreso President and CEO Cynthia Figueroa. The nonprofit provides services to Latino communities in the city. “The folks who are on the street corner or the kids walking by themselves to school — that’s when I’m like, ‘Are we working with that family?'”

The cycle of poverty will never be broken by focusing solely on a single issue like food security or reentry or education. The solution has to be holistic.

"These issues are interconnected. You should be looking for opportunities to not solve one thing but multiple things simultaneously."
Dwayne Wharton

“We’re talking about food access. Wage inequality. We want people to make a livable wage so they can buy healthy foods. But if you don’t have a kitchen that’s working, how can you prepare food for your families?” asked Dwayne Wharton, executive director of external affairs at The Food Trust. “These issues are interconnected. You should be looking for opportunities to not solve one thing but multiple things simultaneously.”

From our Partners

And while there are barriers that keep systematically impoverished communities from breaking the cycle of poverty, the most common answer is to address education.

“Education has been the one area where opportunity has most presented itself as a way out of poverty,” Figueroa said. “But education alone is not the answer.”

The conversation around poverty and inequality is not a polite one, Gym said. It can’t be.

“This is a conversation that is angry,” the councilwoman said, raising her voice. “There’s such a focus on welfare from the bottom. That is the most racist way to look at welfare.”

Instead, she said, we should be analyzing what’s happening at “the top” — things like government subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthy.

Besides, said Gym, money from the impending soda tax will allow the city to “launch and embark on the biggest anti-poverty initiative” ever seen.

“It’s called universal Pre-K.”

-30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

What did ‘A Better Chicago’ do for poverty that could work in Philadelphia?

Want to build skills to tell the story of your organization’s impact? Join the RISE Partnership’s Readiness component

How would a Poverty Tracker work in Philadelphia and what could it accomplish?

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Inscripción Doble en Congreso: Lo que trae el futuro

Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd

JFCS of Greater Philadelphia

Youth Engagement Program Coordinator

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey

Chief Knowledge Officer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Campus Philly

President

Apply Now

In Chinatown, a great need for more benefits — and better access to them

For people with a disability, poverty rates are high and employment rates low. Can workforce development help?

Nonprofit professionals express concerns about Philly Fighting COVID controversy impacting other nonprofits

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Dual Enrollment at Congreso: Where does it go from here?

Philadelphia, PA

The Pew Charitable Trusts

Senior Officer Pew Fund

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Neighborhood Gardens Trust

Development and Communications Manager

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Friends of the Rail Park

Public Programs Manager

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity