We are Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER). We are congregations from all across the city, intentionally bringing people together across the lines of race, faith, income level and neighborhood — lines which have historically kept Philadelphians divided. We are people of faith committed to the work of bringing about justice here and now, in our city and our region. By strengthening and mobilizing our networks of relationships, we seek to exercise power in the public arena so that the needs and priorities of all Philadelphians are reflected in the systems and policies that shape our city.
POWER Mission Statement:
POWER uses our belief in God’s goodness and compassion for the suffering to organize and empower the people of Philadelphia to live and work together so that God’s presence is known on every block, that people work together to transform the conditions of their neighborhood, and that life flourishes for all.
Shining a light on broken systems:
POWER has come together to lift up a new prophetic voice and bear witness to the fact that these systems no longer work for too many families in too many Philadelphia neighborhoods. Systems that allow for 30% unemployment in some of our communities, particularly our communities of color; wherein nearly 50% of our children can’t read or perform math, or graduate on time, and that appear to continually be in crisis; systems that allow one of our brothers or sisters to be murdered nearly every day; systems that allow more than 100,000 city residents to go without health insurance, and that allow a tenth of our properties to lie vacant or abandoned or foreclosed – these are broken systems.
And while this brokenness hurts all Philadelphians, POWER recognizes and seeks to address the fact that it is the poor, communities of color and working families of all kinds who suffer the brunt of declining opportunities and dysfunctional systems. POWER commits to call attention to this brokenness, to advance concrete policy changes to reform these systems and to work with public and private sector leaders to bring the necessary resources to bear to turn these systems, and our city, around.
POWER has intentionally brought together Philadelphians across lines of race, income level, faith tradition, culture and neighborhood in order to build broad-based power for policy change. More than 40 congregations from every section of the city have actively participated in the building of POWER over the past year. 500 clergy and lay leaders have attended organizing trainings, planning and strategy sessions, engaged in research work, and conducted relational outreach within their congregations and communities since fall 2010.
POWER members have conducted more than 1,000 face to face conversations with fellow and sister congregants, peers and neighbors, in order to identify shared dreams and concerns, and common themes of both struggle and hope. The thousand stories we heard revolve around five key policy areas – Jobs, Schools, Safety, Housing & Health. Together, these stories weave into common narrative about pain, hope, frustration and diminishing opportunity in our neighborhoods and our city.
More than 40 congregations are dues-paying members of POWER. Together, these congregations have a total membership of more than 25,000 individuals. POWER member congregations touch each of Philadelphia’s ten City Council Districts and a majority of Philadelphia’s 44 zip codes. Collectively, POWER congregational membership reflects the racial, ethnic, religious, and economic diversity of our city.
For the past year, 15 congregations in Montgomery, Delware, and Chester Counties have been exploring joining POWER to answer an intensifying call for change in the Philadelphia Metro region. Crossing faith, race, and socio-economic lines, the following congregations have been working to lend their vision and voice to the overall betterment of our communities.
POWER has received support from the following funders in the past year: The William Penn Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Allen Hilles Fund, the Bread & Roses Community Fund, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Campaign for Human Development, the Douty Foundation, Wayne Presbyterian Church, Wells Fargo Bank, Discount Foundation, Needmor Fund, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Alice & Michael Kuhn Foundation, Caston Foundation.POWER is also supported by congregational membership dues and contributions from individual donors.
To become a financial supporter of POWER, click here.
POWER employs a model of organizing often referred to as “Faith-Based Community Organizing” (FBCO) and which is sometimes called “congregation-based” or “broad-based” community organizing. This model is rooted in the practical experience of similar organizations within the PICO National Network (www.piconetwork.org) and is grounded in key principles and stories from our major faith traditions.