Philadelphia has one of the highest urban poverty rates in the nation, with over 26% of residents living in poverty. In response to this reality, the city has developed multiple assistance programs, resources and systems to alleviate the cost of basic needs. However, use of the assistance programs is not what the city aimed to see in order to dramatically improve the lives of its poorest residents. To address utilization rates, Philadelphia tested ways to encourage greater participation in its benefit and assistance programs, Through the city’s involvement in the City Accelerator, Philadelphia put more money back into the pockets of low-income seniors. Staff ran two controlled behavioral science experiments that prove that no-cost tweaks in government messages can have a valuable impact. A change in color, size of fonts and envelopes put $126,108 – an increase of 80% in annual savings – in the pockets of eligible seniors.
Furthermore, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has long been a proponent of diversity and inclusion. Through Philadelphia’s involvement in Racial Equity Here (REH), the mayor has been able to advance his commitment to tackling racial inequities that disproportionately inhibit people of color, particularly young people, from achieving economic success. REH follows the mayor’s establishment on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which advances equity through strategic government policies and programs.
Former Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter, was honored by Living Cities in 2016 as one of the top 25 Disruptive Leaders in America.