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First-of-its-kind, public-private coalition brings on experienced business and community impact leader

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Promise, a first-of-its kind public-private anti-poverty coalition and action fund powered by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), in collaboration with local nonprofits, public and private businesses, independent stakeholders and the City of Philadelphia, proudly announces the appointment of Michael Banks as executive director.

Banks will report to The Promise’s Board of Directors and oversee strategic, fundraising and operational activities in support of the initiative’s mission of reducing poverty in Philadelphia – beginning with the goal of moving 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty by 2025.

“Pocket solutions to eliminating poverty in Philadelphia have proven to be insufficient because no single organization can impact this issue on its own,” says Banks. “With The Promise, we are chipping away at the idea that the status quo is acceptable, and it’s going to require an unprecedented collaboration and coordination for this to be any different. I, along with our Board and our key stakeholders, are up to the challenge.”

“With The Promise, we are realizing an unprecedented coalition of prominent leadership from community-based organizations in a position to best understand people’s struggles to overcome poverty; and I’m thrilled to have Mike Banks leading the charge,” says Bill Golderer, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.  “The Promise represents collaboration across geography and discipline in a way that’s never been done before in Philadelphia, and Mike is the right leader at the right time to move this work forward.”

Prior to joining The Promise, Banks served as the Managing Director of Employment, Opportunity and Entrepreneurship of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern Jersey where he led the Built By Philly initiative to address inequity for BIPOC entrepreneurs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He previously helmed the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. He has been named one of the Top 100 Influential Leaders in the Region and one of the 40 Most Talented Leaders under 40 by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Representing the first explicit Philadelphia-based public and private partnership in tackling poverty within city limits, The Promise is focused on stabilizing and growing income for Philadelphians by vetting and funding investments that expand access to existing public benefits and remove barriers that can stand in the way of Philadelphians accessing high-quality jobs and launching a career.

Since its inception, The Promise has done this through partnership grants that help scale and boost the work of existing community nonprofits that are already successfully doing this work. The Promise is backed by three years of research and intense study of enduring contributing factors to poverty — racism, lack of access to job training and healthcare deserts to name a few. To date, along with funding the work of community nonprofits, The Promise introduced the Jobs and Opportunity Challenge: Record Sealing and Employment Access, a collaboration with local and national nonprofits to remove a key barrier to employment. With local record sealing and clearing clinics— aiming for 30 clinics in 30 weeks — the Challenge will help individuals with past criminal records that impede their ability to find a job get their lives back on track.