A Greater Philadelphia Movement Begins
New non-partisan advocacy group sets higher expectations for a broken city & plans a bold mobilization of residents to demand better
Today marks the launch of A Greater Philadelphia (“AGP”), a group of Philadelphians from diverse neighborhoods, backgrounds, professions and political persuasions. Called “A Greater Philadelphia” in recognition of the city’s potential, the new advocacy group announced its intention to build an ambitious citywide movement in support of higher expectations, more effective leadership and better governance.
“As Philadelphians, we love our city,” said founder Mark Gleason, who led the nonprofit Philadelphia School Partnership from 2011-2021. “At the same time, we are angry and heartbroken as we try to live and grow here. As residents enter 2022 and look ahead to city elections in 2023, we have an opportunity to come together, to raise our voices, and to demand better.”
The group’s objective is a citywide movement that numbers in the tens of thousands of Philadelphians, Gleason said. Besides engaging with people through events and social media, the group will publish the ideas of its founders and city residents on its website. AGP plans to also poll residents on a range of issues while organizing speakers to raise concerns and advocate for change at City Council and Board of Education meetings.
AGP will focus mainly on five issue categories: 1) transparent and accountable governance; 2) public safety; 3) education; 4) economic growth; and 5) quality of life. Above all, it will advocate for the city to adopt a clear vision of what it wants to be, because “… without a ‘North star’ vision, decision-making within any of these categories becomes too easily politicized or even arbitrary,” Gleason said.
The founding board of AGP includes a diverse group of residents and organizational leaders:
WURD radio host and Principal, B|E Strategy, a strategic communications firm with operations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. & California
Retired public-policy and education professor, University of Pennsylvania; longtime champion for regional cooperation
CEO, Philadelphia Education Fund; former School Reform Commission member
CEO, West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, representing small-business owners
VP, The Goldenberg Group; formerly a leader of Young Involved Philadelphia
“Residents are especially agitated by city officials who say they share our anger and heartbreak — but who aren’t doing anything all that different or bold or ambitious,” Gleason said. “Why does City Council continue to meet virtually rather than return to its chambers and hear from community members face-to-face? Why is there such a wave of so many honorific and non-urgent resolutions on the agenda, while the city struggles with high unemployment, record homicides and numerous infrastructure woes?” In the most recent full Council session, nearly half the bills passed were honorific or ceremonial in nature.
Among the biggest U.S. cities, Philadelphia (6th largest) ranks worst or second worst on education, job creation, homicides, and income inequality. With 35 homicides per 100,000 residents, Philadelphia now ranks No. 1 in murder rates among the nation’s 10 largest cities.
The pandemic has challenged all cities, of course, but Philadelphia trails its peers. As noted by a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, “Since the arrival of Covid-19 ... the city has underperformed the national economy, recovering more slowly than many other cities have. Philadelphia is experiencing lingering job losses, particularly in the low-wage sectors, with Black workers and female workers hit the hardest.”
A Greater Philadelphia is nonprofit and not aligned with any political party. It is not about any one issue or constituency. It is about moving beyond the infamous “Philly shrug” and pushing the city to achieve its full potential: as a city where longtime residents, immigrants, and people of all ages and races enjoy health, prosperity and community.
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Contact: Mark Gleason | 908.612.9108 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles Ellison | 301.526.2239 | email@example.com