Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild
“What keeps you up at night?” This is the question that faith leaders from around the Delaware Valley were asked to ponder two years ago at a retreat organized to build a faith-based social change organizing effort from the ground up.
Overwhelmingly, participants said that the fear of losing or not finding a job was the No. 1 nighttime anxiety for themselves, their loved ones, and congregants.
And that’s how POWER was born. Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER), a Bread & Roses Future Fund grantee, organizes faith communities around five key issues: jobs, education, public safety, housing and vacant land, and health care.
After a successful initial launch in September, POWER’s first goal is to create a pipeline to get more Philadelphians jobs.
How does POWER aim to reach this goal?
“Collaborating, pushing, holding the city accountable for producing results,” says Bishop Dwayne Rooster, executive director of POWER.
For example, the planned expansion at Philadelphia International Airport is expected to create 100,000 more jobs, and POWER wants those jobs to go to Philadelphians. The group plans to ask the city to make well-paying jobs for Philadelphians a condition of any tax incentives or economic development assistance that might be offered by city or state government to the expansion project.
This demand is a part of a bigger campaign to create more permanent, living-wage jobs in the region. Bishop Dwayne says that if individuals have life-sustaining jobs, they’ll usually have health care, money to pay the rent and mortgage, and less strenuous lives overall.
“You behave differently if there’s something you’re getting up for everyday and it’s meaningful to you,” says Bishop Dwayne.
With over 35 member congregations, POWER is an exciting addition to the city’s grassroots social change community. With the support of a Bread & Roses grant made possible by you, POWER has the potential to make real change in our region to benefit everyone.