( 142 ratings )

Harnessing innovation for Low-Income Communities in Philadelphia

the City of Philadelphia | June 30, 2014

This summary is a part of Philadelphia’s application to the City Accelerator , through which cities would advance urban innovations that will have a significant impact in the lives of their residents, especially low-income residents. Watch the city’s pitch video, read the summary, and rate their submission on its potential to: impact low-income people; expand innovation by the city; and, scale to other cities.

What is Philadelphia proposing?

The City of Philadelphia faces the highest poverty rate of all major U.S. cities. The city has developed an infrastructure of innovation, and now looks to harness that innovation to put money back into the pockets of low-income residents. The City Accelerator offers Philadelphia an opportunity to apply innovation to the challenge of reaching residents most in need.

How will it accomplish this?

As a member of the first cohort in the City Accelerator, Philadelphia would:

  • work to increase awareness of tax payer assistance programs and reduce barriers to accessing those programs;
  • increase capacity to target residents who would reap the greatest benefit from the above efforts; and 
  • apply innovative strategies to change how programs work, revamping policies and procedures to increase enrollment in assistance programs. 


( 142 ratings )


Galvin Morgan    on: Jul 30    

Even if Philadelphia has a larger amount of poverty rates, the plan with innovation won't create a big enough difference to actually benefit those who are low-income.

Luna Williams    on: Jul 30    

Though it can seem as if this would help, this plan is not at all specific enough on how the money will be used to actually improve the lives of those who live in poverty. This idea needs improvement before it could be executed across the whole city.

Suzanne    on: Jul 30    

They have identified the problems and put together multi-agency team. However, they might have put the cart before the horse in that they are looking for the answers to the problems and not proposing concrete solutions. They seem to have identified good first steps - learning how to change their programs to be more effective and using behavioral economics. They did not identify how they would learn that discipline in this video. Until they have solutions, I don't know that there are solutions for other cities to adopt.

Annabella Roig    on: Jul 29    

Philadelphia's under age 18 poverty level is at 35%. The process they have outlined and are ready to move forward has years in the making. I believe they are well positioned to make an impact and demonstrate effective scaling for others.

Erik Johanson    on: Jul 24    

Smart and practical approach to a seemingly intractable problem. By leveraging an asset that already exists (unused benefits) the solution avoids falling into the all-too-common approach of creating new and expensive government programs to solve public policy dilemmas. This approach should produce immediate returns and help Philadelphia take the next step towards its resurgence as a great American city.

Jean    on: Jul 22    

I like that impact for low-income people is stressed more than innovation for the sake of innovation. Increasing their capacity to target for impact is an effective strategy.

Sandy Pooler    on: Jul 22    

On the plus side, Philadelphia could develop a great program to reach out to citizens. It could learn lessons about communicating with low income and elderly residents and those lessons would be valuable to other communities. On the negative side, I do not think the types of tax reduction programs that city is pushing are realistic for other communities. I also did not like the pitch that some people could see their taxes reduced to zero - it sound like a gimmick and it undercuts a commitment to all residents paying for municipal services. Tax relief should be tied to need, not age.

Ean    on: Jul 22    

This is great!

ivan k    on: Jul 17    

I liked the focus on two concrete programs. Makes me more confident that specific improvements can be made.

ss    on: Jul 15    

This town is PA's version of Camden, NJ (across the river). Longtime, inept corruption and teetering on bankruptcy. Along with New Orleans and Baltimore, still a top TRAVEL LEISURE "America's Dirtiest City" with widespread solid wastes on public spaces. I don't trust its Mayor nor Council, and America's prof. observers on cities should not, too!

   on: Jul 15    

Proposal looks nice, but like the others there are no definitive results, maybe I look for too much. You want people to apply for real estate tax assistance, send info with the tax bills - you will get a large response. Revamping policy and procedures for what exactly? Some programs are federally mandated and cannot be changed; a one stop shop is always good for the less fortunate as transportation is an issue. Also, having a counselor help them complete the forms is very helpful as they are often too much for them to grasp.

Doug    on: Jul 14    

I don't see anything innovative about this proposal. It is just work that needs to be and should be done.

   on: Jul 14    

While the idea is good - helping residents access existing tax credit programs, I would think that some of the city's hardest-pressed citizens may need more direct services and removal of barriers to those services.

   on: Jul 14    

This seems promising and puts money back in the pockets of lo income families.

Burt Dallas    on: Jul 14    

Philadelphia has the history of its residents being highly productive. It is in the process of shifting from a manufacturing base to 21st century productivity. Other cities also find themselves in this situation and what Philly achieves will be a model for others cities. Philadelphia's natural resources are a major asset.

Katrice Cheaton    on: Jul 12    

Streamlining the process to make resources more accessible and then promoting the new streamlined process to low-income communities is a great way to help low-income residents help themselves. I'm glad to see that many city agencies realize that the current way to access their resources isn't serving the needs of the people the way it should and that innovative changes to the system through City Accelerator would greatly help low-income residents.

Don HB    on: Jul 12    

PHL has private govt tech players to assist this initiative as well!

Katelyn    on: Jul 10    

Sounds like an interesting program!

Diana    on: Jul 10    

This is a great innovation that will definitely help the city's poor. But I'd also love to see how this process can help streamline all people's interactions with city government. So much revenue is left on the table because people/companies have trouble navigating how to pay business taxes and other bills. And likewise the city's inability to reach citizens has left us with blighted buildings and other related problems....all of this is to say, we need better communication between city and citizens, which will help both parties reap the rewards of that relationship, and this is one great step toward that.

Cate    on: Jul 10    

This is a great idea - low-income populations don't have easily available computer access and often can't find these resources. Finding new ways to reach these people would greatly benefit Philadelphia's poor, including the working poor who can't afford the resources (like internet) that most people take for granted. People who qualify for help shouldn't have to search for it.

Andrea    on: Jul 9    

Philadelphia needs support for promising programs like this.

Jackie Linton    on: Jul 9    

This looks like a great project to really help low income families save lots of money. It is surprising that a city is looking for ways to reduce the costs that homeowners are paying for local taxes rather than looking for ways to increase those taxes. This sounds like true innovation to me. I am sure that other cities who have been around for a while also struggle with getting the right information into the hands of their constituents in an effective way. The idea of combining the programs and improving access sounds totally scalable to other cities.

Denise Goren    on: Jul 9    

Deserves a big "KISS" A great example of keep it simple stupid , advice that too many government programs forget to adhere to

Lenore Beirne    on: Jul 9    

Excited to see what this could mean for my home town, and hope that this is the start of a more innovation and inclusive approach to addressing poverty!

   on: Jul 9    

Great way to reach low-income residents!

Rob    on: Jul 9    

The birthplace of America, Philadelphia is once again becoming a leader in innovation practices and the entire community, including industry and academia is getting involved. In the midst of this innovation renaissance, this particular initiative provides those most in need (low income residents) the chance to also participate in this progress, and ultimately benefit the entire region.

Erica Wilson    on: Jul 9    

This is an awesome opportunity. COMMON PHILLY LETS DO THIS!!!! Guys. Share this and ask for votes. I know you have friends on FB and twitter and maybe even G . Sharing is caring. Let's put the brotherly love back in our city :)peace

Laurie    on: Jul 9    


Michael Weingram    on: Jul 8    

I think this is a very positive approach to solve a problem that has many moving parts. This approach will provide people who need, and deserve, support with an easier way to navigate what is currently a confusing array of services.

Annie    on: Jul 8    

IT sounds like a program which would help low income residents and the pitch is precisely right,

Marisa Waxman    on: Jul 8    

I love that it goes beyond improved access and will look at changing how the programs actually work to ensure they are more accessible

Jen    on: Jul 7    

This pitch is not particularly innovative. It is essentially finding a better way to communicate to low income people about government programs that exist and are already being used by many low income people, and streamlining the number of applications required for assistance. I cannot see how this proposal lays the groundwork for improving the way services are delivered, or helping people escape poverty?

Monty Wilson    on: Jul 7    

The pitch is precisely right. The City has many programs to help low-income folks with their utilities, taxes and other needs but it can be difficult to apply for them and often little is known about the programs. A focus on "unifying" applications and identifying needs all at once could go a long way to increase use of these programs and help Philadelphians who really need it.

Stephanie    on: Jul 7    

Yes! This is a great plan for Philadelphia!

B    on: Jul 3    

Good stuff!

James    on: Jul 3    

Hope this works!

Sonja    on: Jul 3    

I think this a great start. Bureaucracy hinders progress.

Catie    on: Jul 3    

Its a great direction for philadelphia to take!

Kirsten    on: Jul 2    

Looks like a great way to make existing programs work better. Hope they can really keep the user-interface simple.

Cathy    on: Jul 2    

Philadelphia's proposal is about some concrete projects to help low income residents as compared to building centers and networks for future innovation. It deserves the award.

Alisa Belzer    on: Jul 1    

Seems like a great way to put more money into the pockets of low income people in the city.

Sharon Gallagher    on: Jul 1    

Philadelphia residents who live in poverty deserve better systems. The City Accelerator award would give the city needed funds to serve more. Good idea.

Dave    on: Jul 1    

informative for people with computers

Andy Frishkoff    on: Jul 1    

I like it, but I would prefer a different narrator and better linkage between visual images and content of message.

Jennifer Kates    on: Jul 1    

We have a major opportunity to use data analysis and a coordinated approach to have a major impact in this area, which will help preserve homeownership and reduce poverty.

Teresa    on: Jul 1    

Philadelphia is on the path to helping its low-income residents

Natasha    on: Jul 1    

Much needed help for Philadelphia's impoverished!

Fiona    on: Jul 1    

So many more low income people could be benefiting from these programs. And Cities need to lean how to better reach this population. Sounds like a win win to me!