(Photo by Jess Marie Francis via facebook.com/412FoodRescue)
Generocity is one of 21 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice.
Benefits Data Trust’s (BDT) local public benefits outreach program marked 10 years today with an announcement of its expansion to four community schools and two city health centers.
BenePhilly is an anti-poverty initiative that aims to enroll eligible Philadelphians in public benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The program has assisted more than 110,000 low-income residents and earned eligible households an average of $6,000 in benefits per year, according to a press release.
The first iteration of the program, launched in 2008 by BDT, the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, exclusively targeted older residents via phone calls.
In 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity opened physical BenePhilly Centers at six nonprofits where people of all ages seeking other social services can be screen by public benefits counselors for eligibility. Those nonprofits include Catholic Social Services (which now hosts the program at two locations), Philadelphia FIGHT and Project HOME.
As part of this new expansion, BenePhilly Centers will be opened at four community schools in North Philadelphia — Mary McLeod Bethune School, William Cramp School, Edward Gideon School and James Logan School — and two health centers operated by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in Fishtown and Germantown. Students’ parents and community members will be encouraged to participate in the BenePhilly screening process and then, if eligible, apply for benefits.
BDT is in the final phase of approving contracts and expects the new centers to open in December 2018, a rep said via email. Funding for the expansion comes from the city’s General Fund investments from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, though its cost was not provided.
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“Everybody benefits when people can afford food, housing, and healthcare. Kids do better in school, adults are better able to secure and sustain employment, and older adults can age in place with dignity,” said BDT President and CEO Ginger Zielinskie in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a first step in our larger vision to enroll low-income Philadelphians in benefits worth $1 billion over the next decade. Doing so is a foundational element to helping low-income families across the city achieve economic mobility.”
In September, BDT was one of two local nonprofits named finalists of the Communities Thrive Challenge, a $10 million fund from the Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Ten of the 20 finalists will each receive $1 million and tech support by the end of 2018.-30-
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