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WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCIL ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR ARTS AND CULTURE GRANTS; FIRST INVESTMENTS OF POVERTY ACTION FUND

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CITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION IN ARTS AND CULTURE GRANTS

Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas (At Large) and Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large) have created the “Illuminate the Arts” grant as part of Council’s New Normal Budget Act. The Illuminate the Arts Grants is a total of $1 Million to be distributed to individual artists, mid-size nonprofits and small businesses, administered through the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. Through the input of the Arts and Culture Task Force as well as the arts and culture community, the application process and requirements will be geared to meet the needs of this community and provide relief quickly and efficiently.

“The Illuminate the Arts Grants make a necessary investment to Philadelphia’s arts, culture and nightlife sectors,” said Councilmember Thomas. “When the city fully opens up, arts and culture will drive people to the city. We can’t keep saving the arts, we have to start illuminating the arts as the economic drivers and job creators they are. With a focus on individual artists, mid-size nonprofits and small businesses – Illuminate the Arts grants seek to send an overdue lifeline to the arts community.”

On Thursday, Councilmembers Thomas and Gilmore Richardson introduced a budget transfer ordinance for $1,300,000 to the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. $1,000,000 will be allocated for grants for artists and cultural organizations, with additional funds for a temporary full-time staffer to oversee the administrative responsibilities, repay pandemic-related losses to artists and assist in 2021 arts events planning. The funds come from Council’s New Normal Budget Act, which prioritizes an equitable recovery for jobs and economic opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Under the leadership of Council President Clarke, Council has worked diligently to respond directly to community needs throughout the pandemic,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson. “Through the Disadvantaged Communities Task Force, Councilmember Thomas and I were able to hear from community members about the challenges that were most severe and work collaboratively to find solutions. Today, we are excited to be able to invest directly in arts and culture, a sector that has been deeply impacted by the pandemic.”

Once the transfer ordinance is passed and OACCE hires a temporary full-time position for grant administration, the grants will officially open. www.creativephl.org, the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy’s website, will house future announcements and the grant application process.

COUNCIL INTRODUCES RESOLUTION CREATING A CITYWIDE ANTI-VIOLENCE RESOURCES NETWORK

As gun violence and homicides continue an unprecedented rise, Council Thursday introduced a Resolution to create an Anti-Violence Resource Network, a one-stop clearinghouse of information to guide Philadelphians directly affected by violence to available resources in the city.

Homicides in 2021 reached 75 Thursday – a 36 percent increase over 2020, which ended with a 25-year high.  Shootings this year are at 351 – 64 percent more than last year, which ended with a record 2,240 shootings. As of yesterday, 57 teenagers under the age of 18 have been shot in the city this year, a 137 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Last Wednesday, gunfire erupted at a major transit hub in Philadelphia – the Olney Transportation Center. Eight people, several in their 70s, were shot in broad daylight.

Council has taken multiple steps and held numerous hearings on the relentless problems associated with gun violence. It initiated ongoing litigation against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over its role creating the danger of illegal guns in our neighborhoods. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Special Committee to Prevent Gun Violence have explored deeply the many causes of gun violence and recommended an array of actions. Another Council resolution seeks to have the mayor declare a state of emergency citywide.

The idea of the Philadelphia Anti-Violence Resource Network, introduced by Council Majority Leader Cherelle Parker (9th District) at the request of Council President Darrell Clarke, ois for it to be a trusted, confidential resource network. It would maintain a current list of all available services and programs within Philadelphia, answer calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to connect community organizations and residents to these available resources. 11 Council members co-signed the Resolution introduced today.

“The Philadelphia Anti-Violence Resource Network will provide much-needed support to local community organizations in need of access to critical resources, to programs and the ability to offer real-time support and violence prevention interventions to youth and individuals within their community,” said Council President Clarke. “We need a one-stop shop to help people navigate the resources out there to help them once they’ve been exposed to violence.”

The Philadelphia Anti-Violence Resource Network will benefit from lessons learned from the City of Philadelphia’s 311 Constituent Call Center, Philadelphia’s Domestic Violence Hotline, Project HOME’s Outreach Coordination Center, and other best practice leaders from across the city and country.

COUNCILMEMBER GREEN CALLS FOR HEARINGS TO EXAMINE THE LINKS BETWEEN POVERTY, GUN VIOLENCE AND SYSTEMIC RACISM IN PHILADELPHIA

Councilmember Derek Green (At Large) introduced a resolution Thursday authorizing the Committee on Finance and the Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention to hold joint hearings regarding the connection between poverty, gun violence, and systemic racism in Philadelphia.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) – Chair of the Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention – along with 11 other Councilmembers – will take a deeper dive into the depths of the gun violence epidemic that plagues the city and how it connects with the driving factors of a high poverty rate of 24.5% (the highest of the ten largest U.S. cities) and systemic racial inequities that have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.

At the close of 2020, Philadelphia saw 499 murders – the highest number in 31 years. Almost 3 months into 2021, the City’s homicide rate is up 42% from this time last year, with 75 lives lost to gun violence. The devastation and continuing challenges brought by COVID-19 have made already desperate circumstances all the more dire as the pandemic has shuttered more than half of Black-owned businesses citywide between March and July 2020 alone – further aggravating issues of social isolation, joblessness and economic precarity.

“While it’s true that we are making inroads as far as mitigating further spread of the coronavirus is concerned, we are witnessing another public health and safety emergency worsen every day,” said Councilmember Green. “It’s no coincidence that violence has exponentially increased since the start of this pandemic and unless we acknowledge the facts of this three-pronged issue, there will be no end in sight for this gun violence epidemic in Philadelphia.”

“In spite of what will inevitably be a difficult fiscal year, I look forward to working with Councilmember Johnson and the rest of my Council colleagues to come up with solutions that display our priorities and dedication to improving the quality of life of our citizens and will ultimately steer our City toward the safer, more prosperous and equitable future that we owe to our children and generations to come.”

CITY COUNCIL, UNITED WAY SET POVERTY ACTION PLAN IN MOTION WITH $10 MILLION FOR PARTNERSHIPS WITH KEY NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICE PROVIDERS

On Monday, City Council committed $10 million in city funding to the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey to spearhead Philadelphia’s Poverty Action Fund. This public-private partnership aims to lift 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty in the next five years, and is the next step of a year-long effort led by City Council, the Kenney administration, community, business and philanthropic leaders.

The first investment announced Monday — $5.5 Million — will be used to begin funding neighborhood organizations providing financial services during this tax season. The first grantees include:

Campaign for Working Families, which will receive $1 million to lead a coalition to promote equitable financial recovery in North Philadelphia.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which will receive $1 million to foster economic mobility in Philadelphia’s Latinx community in partnership with the Latino Equitable Development Collective.

African Cultural Alliance of North America, Inc., which will receive $1 million to conduct targeted outreach to African, Asian immigrant and low-income communities as part of the No One Left Behind coalition.

Diversified Community Services, which will receive $1.5 million to provide housing support, benefits access, and tax services.

United Way, in partnership with City Council and the Kenney administration, is mobilizing a coalition of public, private, community, business and philanthropic groups as this partnership promises to meet the systemic challenges of reducing poverty. Council is making an overall, initial investment of $10 Million to further the goals of the Poverty Action Fund.

“Eliminating Philadelphia’s status as the poorest large city in America starts with creating stability,” said Bill Golderer, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “We are meeting this moment with collaboration, creativity and tenacity. Together we will invest in proven, scalable solutions that will deliver on the promise of real progress for our neighbors.”

“This is our moonshot—our once-in-a-generation chance to move the needle on poverty in Philadelphia,” said Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District). “The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on us all, but it has particularly revealed disparities in how communities of color are harmed by poverty, joblessness, a lack of hope and even despair. We must do everything in our power – with our partners in the business and philanthropic community – to make government work better for every resident of our city.”

“Philadelphia deserves an entirely new approach to intractable poverty,” said Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), the point person on Council’s poverty efforts. “The Poverty Action Fund is different than anything we have done before because it leverages public-private partnership and impact measurement to invest directly in people, not programs.  Today, we are getting to work by empowering community-based collaboratives to tap $450 million in unclaimed public benefits and recent stimulus grants for Philadelphians.”

The Poverty Action Fund will be managed by a board of civic leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, who will be named shortly. Read more about the Poverty Action Plan.

SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA…

IN OTHER NEWS…

Councilmember Thomas Holds Hearings on Hit-and-Run Crisis. In his role as chair of Council’s Streets & Services Committee, Councilmember Thomas is taking on the city’s ongoing problems involving hit-and-run accidents in Philadelphia. There were nine deaths from hit-and-runs in 2019 – and 28 deaths in 2020 – a three-fold increase during a pandemic year when vehicular traffic was presumably down for a large part of the year due to lockdowns.

Wednesday, in Council’s Public Safety Committee, Councilmember Thomas’ resolution on the issue led to a hearing featuring a wide array of witnesses – police accident investigation officials, mothers who’ve lost children to this terrible problem, and academic experts as well. The councilmember and his staff are in information-gathering mode, listening carefully, gathering data, and beginning to seek recommendations for changes to enhance public safety and reduce hit and runs.

“I can assure you, my goal is to see direct action,” Thomas told the press Wednesday following the hearing.

Cody Anderson, Iconic Pioneer in Black Broadcasting, Passes. Cody Anderson, a pioneer in Black broadcasting in Philadelphia who served as a groundbreaker and mentor to countless individuals for decades, passed away last weekend at the age of 78. The cause was COVID-19, his family announced. In a statement to the Philadelphia Tribune, his family said, “Obituaries often speak of a person’s accomplishments, but our family wants you to know who our father was. He was a kind man with a gentle, compassionate spirit. He was dedicated and a loyal friend who was always available and fully present in his friendships. He was a man of unwavering faith in God and always saw the best in people. He was funny, creative, smart and giving. His love for his family was only exceeded by our love for him.”

City Council praised Cody Anderson in its Thursday session, and throughout the week on social media. A resolution honored Mr. Anderson was introduced by Councilmember Parker on President Clarke’s behalf.

OTHER SIGHTS AND SOUNDS FROM THE COUNCIL WEEK

Committee on Public Health and Human Services, 2-19-2021

Committee on Appropriations, 2-22-2021

Committee on Law and Government, 2-23-2021

Committee on Public Safety, 2-24-2021

Stated Meeting of Philadelphia City Council, 2-25-2021

PHILADELPHIA FACTS AND FIGURES

Source: Billy Penn

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 10 a.m. The Meeting will be held remotely due to the ongoing pandemic, and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.

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