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UBA's unrestricted response bolsters Philadelphia nonprofits amidst COVID-19


Philadelphia, PA, -- Like most cities, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and profound impact on Philadelphia's local economy, available resources, and the ability for its residents to cover basic needs such as food, housing, and utilities. As a sector already heavily reliant on annual donations and public and private funding, many nonprofit organizations have been forced to furlough or lay off a large percentage of their workforce and limit services, while striving to continue to serve their respective communities. 


With this realization, in addition to Union Benevolent Association’s (UBA) spring and fall grant cycles, UBA chose to award its annual grant--typically one (1) $20,000 award, to four (4) community-based nonprofit organizations addressing the critical challenges affecting Philadelphia--in the amount of $25,000 each. These trusted and experienced organizations have continued to provide, and even expand, basic services during the pandemic.  All four organizations are to be commended for reaching the hardest to reach in their communities, providing direct support (almost every dollar of support reached community members directly) to those in greatest need.  The four organizations were: Ceiba, the Coalition of African and Caribbean Communities (AFRICOM), the People's Emergency Center CDC, and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.


Ceiba promotes the economic development and financial inclusion of the Latino community through collaborations and advocacy aimed at ensuring their access to quality housing. With much gratitude, Will Gonzalez, Esq., Executive Director, stated that "this funding will allow them to provide cash gifts to Latinos, who have the highest rate of poverty in the city, and now their growing immigrant population, that have especially felt the financial hardship that COVID-19 has had on service industry workers." 


The Coalition of African and Caribbean Communities (AFRICOM) advocates and organizes to promote immigrant and refugee empowerment, a sense of belonging, and self-sufficiency. AFRICOM hosts a variety of programs that center on leadership, culture, education, and civic engagement. President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Eric Edi, thankfully expressed that "this award will provide cash assistance to those currently on their prioritized waitlist, for help with rent, utilities, and food." 


The People's Emergency Center CDC uses a unique and holistic approach to its full-spectrum housing services--from emergency shelter to affordable homeownership--for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. "This timely funding will be used to aid those that did not meet the eligibility requirements for the federal Emergency Solutions Grant program," says Kevin Musselman, Foundation Relations Manager. 

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) has led residents and friends of Chinatown in defending Chinatown’s right to exist and from development projects that threaten its survival,  and foster a community that people want to live in, visit, work in, and care about. According to Rachel Mak, Deputy Director, “PCDC has seen a significant need in the areas of food distribution, and rent and emergency needs assistance. This funding will help support these needs.” asked and four, current UBA Board Members were selected to share their "Predictions for nonprofits in 2021"

Vourvoulias, S. (2020, December 23).

Monique Curry-Mims

Founder and Principal

Civic Capital Consulting

Success: More collaboration amongst all stakeholders         


The sector’s greatest challenge

Understanding where our accountability lies. For nonprofits, we need to look at the

work we are doing and ask if we are doing more harm than good, and who we are

actually accountable to. Should it be our board and funders or those that we charged

ourselves with serving. We need to listen more to their needs and problems and implement strategic and evaluative practices that work towards solving the problem and not just serving it and the community year after year. Nonprofits also need to be accountable to their employees, mental health is real. We need to listen more to our employees, what they see, and how they are feel. We can’t expect them to do the work if they are struggling themselves, mentally, physically, or morally.


The sector’s likeliest success

More collaboration amongst all stakeholders. Our sector on all fronts must come together. Nonprofits need to be less competitive and more inclusive of the voices they serve and the nonprofits that can supplement and bring value to the work they are doing. Funders need to stop sitting in collaboration and thought with other similar funders but with those that they fund and the communities that they serve. We all need to be on the same page, agreeing on priorities and best practices to move our sector forward.

The sector’s wildest dream

A community-centered sector. In 2020, we saw that our work has not been as effective as we thought. Our sector’s progress if often hindered/slowed because of our donor centered focused. What if we were held accountable to the communities we served? What if our programs, dollars, and practices were centered on uplifting our communities and solving the problems they face? What if we listened and were driven by their lived experience, and nonprofits approached their work not with solutions, but with questions? What if funders provided only general operating and trusted nonprofits to do good work, work centered around the community? What if we all cared more about the community and the problems and not the perpetuity of our individual organizations? What if it didn’t need to be wild or even a dream?



Tivoni Devor

Director of Growth and Engagement

Urban Affairs Coalition


Success: Collaboration to the point of merging

The sector’s greatest challenge

Competing for individual donors as more people give directly to crowdfunding sites like

GoFundMe, and impact investment will attract large donors.


The sector’s likeliest success

Deep collaboration, when nonprofits focus all in on mission outcomes they will realize

that collaboration to the point of merging will have better results than constantly

competing for funds, staff, and other resources.


The sector’s wildest dream

A Senate that will approve a large Biden recovery stimulus plan.


Will Gonzalez

Executive Director



Dream: Immigration reform. It is the economic engine that will restart our nation’s


The sector’s greatest challenge

The sector’s greatest challenge is addressing deep poverty in Philadelphia. COVID-19

made it deeper especially in the Latino community; Hispanics are the poorest ethnic

group in the city and the folks most affected by the pandemic.

The sector’s likeliest success

The sector’s likeliest success will be keeping most of the nonprofits in the region alive and working, with more equity, post the pandemic.

The sector’s wildest dream

Immigration reform. It is the economic engine that will restart our nation’s economy. Imagine when we fully integrate millions of unauthorized immigrants into our society by granting them work authorization. It gives this group of hard working people the ability to secure better jobs, and easily access mortgages, car loans, etc.


Michael Hinson
President and Chief Operating Officer
SELF, Inc.


Challenge: Lack of political will, motivation and courage

The sector’s greatest challenge
I believe the public service sector’s greatest challenge is the lack of political will, motivation

and courage desperately needed from elected, appointed and anointed leaders to transform

the ill effects of poverty that show up as roadblocks to successful, safe and healthy living,

i.e. gun violence, poor educational outcomes, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, joblessness, etc.

These roadblocks severely impact the life outcomes of Philadelphia majority populations

— Black, brown and poor communities.

The sector’s likeliest success
I believe the public service sector’s likeliest success will be the dismantling of public and private practices and systems informed and formed by years of racism, bias, discrimination and oppression that have birthed a circular wheel of poverty, self-hate and dependency. These transformational efforts are currently being led by authentic and organic community members, workers, and thought leaders i.e. Black Lives Matter, Me Too Movement, Trans Lives Matter, Latinx Racial Justice Movement, etc.

The sector’s wildest dream
I believe the public service sector’s wildest dream is to light up Philadelphia with the smiles of opportunity and success shown on the faces and the walk of the courageous, resilient, innovative, smart, and caring folks that have been left on the margins too often, but because we listened they no longer need to be resilient — they will thrive and contribute to the transformation of communities block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood living into their best lives for all of Philadelphia to celebrate leaving no one behind!

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