Alleviating Poverty and Promoting College Attainment in Philadelphia
Poverty remains one of the most serious challenges plaguing Philadelphia, an otherwise ambitious and thriving city on an upward trajectory. More than one in four residents live in poverty, the highest rate among the nation’s 10 largest cities. Almost half of those individuals live in deep poverty. And the situation facing our children is even worse, as more than one in three are affected.
Philadelphia’s poverty is often attributed to its relatively low rate of college attainment. About half of the residents of Boston and Washington D.C. hold bachelor’s degrees, compared with only about one-quarter of Philadelphians. This puts us at a disadvantage, since college degrees in both academic and technical fields have widespread payoffs for communities. People with degrees create more earnings not only for themselves, but also for those around them. They pay more taxes, depend less on government-funded programs, and are more likely to volunteer and support philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Engaged citizens are crucial to healthy cities. Efforts to fight poverty and improve well-being throughout Philadelphia must therefore include targeted interventions to grow its college-educated workforce.
But that requires helping the ambitious and hard-working people entering college every year in this city to escape the conditions of poverty long enough to obtain degrees.
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