The Ada Wessel Fund — established in 1990 and managed by The Philadelphia Foundation — has recently donated $10,000 to the multi-cultural interfaith group Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER) to help support the non-profit’s “Justice for Immigrants” campaign.
With those funds, POWER and its consortium of 37 congregations throughout the city will be able to continue its outreach to the immigrant population, which includes promoting fair treatment and establishing a political voice in their communities.
“These funds will enable us to more effectively empower new Philadelphians who seek to play a role in our democracy, and to help move our city forward,” said POWER Executive Director Bishop Dwayne Royster, who also founded the Living Water United Church in Christ, where he serves as pastor. “This grant is a big boost, as it will move this work up to the next level.”
The Philadelphia Foundation President R. Andrew Sweeney announced the grant, which came shortly after its board of managers approved the grant.
According to POWER’s mission statement, it exists to identify issues and problems facing a great cross-section of Philadelphians and to create community-based solutions to them.
“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,” reads POWER’s mission statement. “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 launched in 2011, and immediately took up the cause of ensuring fair distribution of jobs attached to the $6 billion airport expansion project. That grassroots initiative included hosting several community meetings — Economic Justice Forums — in which POWER and other community members had a chance to air their concerns to elected city officials who have ties to the project.
Those meetings included discussions on a set of economic justice principles that POWER suggests should be considered with any job-producing project, including first source hiring for city residents, resources to create a training and recruitment system, and increased minority participation in trade apprenticeship programs.
Those meetings concluded in June, and earned the support of City Councilmen William Green, Mark Squilla and Kenyatta Johnson.
“The Philadelphia Airport is our biggest economic leader,” said Rabbi Julie Greenberg of Congregation Leyv-Ha-Ir/Heart of The City, during the last meeting. “Using that engine to address city poverty and unemployment only makes sense.
“Local hiring requirements at the airport can serve as a model for other large, subsidized projects in our city.”