Vol. 2 (2020): Social Mobility: Inspiring and Building the Capacity of Local Change Agents to Impact Poverty
For more than 10 years; The Social Innovations Journal has connected and inspired local change agents through the sharing of knowledge, best practices, and research to reduce poverty. Concrete impact and change require more than education and engagement -- it requires strategic action. This edition of the Social Innovations Journal highlights the strategies of key actors within the Philadelphia ecosystem who are collectively moving the needle on poverty. To ensure we always have an international flavor, we have also included three articles related to initiatives in Venezuela as related to Social Mobility.
To provide context, nearly one in four Philadelphians is living at or below the federal poverty line. Philadelphia's poverty rate is the highest among the 10 largest cities in the United States; and is more than double the national average. There are numerous city-run programs as well as 384 nonprofit organizations with the word "poverty" included in their missions that provide assistance to the residents of Philadelphia. Philadelphia City Council released its Poverty Action Plan focused on three strategies: Social Safety Net, Housing, and Jobs and Education.
Legislators, government, not-for-profits, academic institutions, and to some extent private companies are all tackling poverty. Despite these efforts, agreed upon strategies, and an ongoing call to action, limited change has occurred for the simple reason that poverty is complex. What is needed is an agreed upon shared measurements and evaluation system that can assess the collective efforts and impact for all organizations. A shared measurement and a system-wide evaluation system would accomplish three things:
- Measure the collective impact of all organizations working on poverty in the region, with the understanding that poverty can be reduced if the collective is aligned on what is important to assess.
- Transparency in reporting that will provide organizations, and the collective, the opportunity to adjust their strategies/initiatives if the agreed upon measurements are not being achieved.
- Data gathering from the collective that can be used to influence local, state, and national anti-poverty policies.
Generally, local change is either driven by local change agents defined as individuals or institutions that are in a position to influence system behavior at their level OR policy change agents defined as governmental policymakers, regulators, or legislators who are advocating, organizing, and supporting change in a sustainable manner. Rather than local change agents working independently and often in isolation of each other, sustainable change will occur when change agents align their efforts towards collective impact through shared measurement goals.
At the Social Innovations Journal, we believe that if we create platforms for the fostering of dialogue, learning, new knowledge, and the creation of communities of practice then we will inspire local change and policy agents to take action locally through adopting and implementing policy and strategy recommendations.
We hope this edition inspires greater collaboration that results in collective action and impact to holistically address poverty in Greater Philadelphia as well as other ecosystems to ultimately help move individuals up the social mobility ladder to a living wage to reduce economic disparities.
Nicholas Torres, Edition Curator