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Economic Dignity

As faithful people, we believe first and foremost in the dignity of work. We believe the purpose of work should be to support a healthy and thriving life, family, and community.

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POWER is independently financed.  We operate with dues from member congregations, grants from charitable and faith-based foundations, grassroots fund raising and contributions from people like you who care about our city and want to see change.  As a matter of principle, POWER takes no financial support from government entities.

We appreciate your one-time donation, or to become a POWER “Sustainer”, a recurring donation of $50/month.

Volunteer with POWER

In addition to being a POWER leader in your congregation, you can offer your time and talents to POWER in the following ways:

  • Helping create and manage our growing mailing list through data entry work
  • Helping communicate with POWER members through periodic phone banking

Email for more information or call the office at 215.232.7697.

Involve your congregation

Interested in learning more about how to build leadership within your congregation, amplify your prophetic voice, strengthen community and address the issues impacting your people?

Then give us a call.

We welcome a conversation with you about pressures impacting your congregation and community and how faith-based community organizing can help you respond. We welcome a conversation about how POWER is equipping congregations across the city to play a more powerful role in shaping policies that effect families, neighborhoods, and our city.

Give us a call at 215-232-7697 or email us at and we’ll set up a time to talk.

We are looking forward to the conversation.

Fighting for Living Wages

Vision and Approach:

Through our Economic Dignity work, POWER is building solutions that can lift people out of poverty and create opportunities so no one has to choose between putting healthy food on the table and paying for rent, utility, or health care. As faithful people, we believe first and foremost in the dignity of work. We believe the purpose of work should be to support a healthy and thriving life, family, and community. In all of our efforts, we promote a real living wage, but we also fight to ensure working people can have pride in their roles, whether they are a trashman or a janitor or a nurse’s aide or a CEO.  We want to make sure all people can provide for their families, create savings, and send their kids to college.

Pennsylvania cities have invested in new business growth and promoted gentrification, often at the expense of longtime residents. Several communities throughout the city remain disenfranchised, blighted, and essentially forgotten. We believe that the greatness of our cities comes from investing in the greatness of all of our neighborhoods, all of our people.

It’s in this belief that we fight for the airport workers getting not just higher wages but the right to collective bargaining that empowers workers to have a voice in their workplace.  It is from this moral conviction that we partnered with other groups to make sure that as Comcast renegotiated with city officials, Philadelphia workers not only received better wages, but were ensured more hours and a more stable schedule, that there would be true opportunity for Black and Brown workers to advance within the company.   

The Situation:

Pennsylvania has the fifth strongest state economy in the country. Yet 13% of the population lives in poverty, and people of color have poverty rates at more than twice the state average. Philadelphia, the state’s largest city with a population of 1.5 million, is widely recognized as a dynamic city with a huge potential for growth, and today more people are choosing to make Philly their home than at any time in the last 65 years.

Still, Philadelphia remains the poorest big city in the country, with more than a quarter of the population living below the poverty line. Once the “Workshop to the World” with almost 400,000 low-skill, living wage manufacturing jobs, today Philadelphia has just 5% of that number, with an economy dominated by low-wage service employment in health care facilities, hotels, tourism destinations, universities, and fast food and other restaurants. 73% of these service workers earn less than $25,000/year. Many depend on government-subsidized food and health benefits to survive.

Milestones and Victories:

POWER has succeeded in helping more workers achieve a livable wage. In 2016 we worked with Philadelphia’s City Council to ensure that all projects involving public dollars pay workers a fair and livable wage.

In 2015 POWER worked with the Council to gain a $12 minimum wage for all projects subcontracted from the city government. And when a large multinational corporation based in Philadelphia attempted to gain an exemption, POWER stood strong.  We hosted prayer vigils, testified in hearings and launched a media campaign focused on the City Council, which, in turn, stood strong and denied the exemption.

Campaign Goals and Strategies:

POWER is continuing its work for economic dignity in two important ways:

The 21st Century Living Wage Campaign

This effort builds on POWER’s success in raising wages in Philadelphia, now seeking to move the minimum wage to $15/hour for all city workers and those who work for city contract and sub-contractor agencies. We have secured a City Council champion for this policy and are building the necessary support among City Council members and the Mayor.

At the state level, POWER is seeking to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour as well. Pennsylvania, like the federal government, has not raised the minimum wage in more than a decade. Increasing the wage will provide powerful benefits to hundreds of thousands of people in the state. It will generate dynamic and more equitable economic growth in our poorest communities, and it will also produce nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in Medicaid savings as Pennsylvania switches people with improved incomes out of the state Medicaid program into the federal Affordable Care Act-mandated Medicaid program.   

Black Work Matters
Recognizing both the racial inequity in the local job market and the dominance of service sector jobs in Philadelphia, POWER is pursuing three key policy aims as part of this effort:

      • Supporting service workers to unionize their workplaces, particularly in the hospitality industry, which will promote more equitable economic growth, raise wages of low income workers, and lift thousands of families out of poverty;
      • Ending racial disparities in the service sector workforce, so that people of color benefit from new job growth as it is created; and
      • Creating a pipeline from poor Philadelphia communities into unionized service jobs, including worker training programs sponsored by major employers.