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New Lenfest initiative aims to connect more North Philadelphians to employment

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

By Jensen Toussaint for Al Dia


Attendees during the first meeting of the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

“Let’s get some people employed,” said Wes Somerville, director of the Lenfest Foundation.

That was the message given during the first official meeting of the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative.

The initiative is a flagship effort aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that exists for many North Philadelphia residents. 

North Philadelphia is home to roughly more than 275,000 residents — approximately 18% of the city’s total population — with an overall employment rate of 43%. The employment rate in North Philadelphia lags far behind the rest of the city, which is at 54%. 

The 43% of North Philadelphians who are employed earn an average of $25,000 annually, which is significantly lower than the citywide median annual earnings of roughly $42,500. 

According to Philadelphia Works, Inc. research, North Philadelphia residents suffer from a higher unemployment rate (9%) than their counterparts from other areas in the city (4.9%). 

The overarching mission of the workforce initiative is to connect all North Philadelphia residents to sustainable job opportunities.

However, it was found that access to opportunities differ for some residents, due to a variety of pre-existing factors.


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