At Wescott, our team is deeply committed to serving our local community. During this time of protest and introspection, we would like to highlight an organization with whom Wescott is closely involved with that is dedicated to furthering the cause of addressing poverty, educational and economic opportunity and resources for our diverse community.
The Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) is a home for non-profits, and the preeminent resource for social entrepreneurs and catalyst for social change in Philadelphia. Wescott Founder and CEO, Grant Rawdin, is Chair Emeritus of UAC’s Board of Directors and currently serves as Vice Chair. He recently had the opportunity to connect with Sharmain Matlock-Turner, President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, to discuss the Coalition’s work.
The Urban Affairs Coalition was founded in 1968 in the wake of the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a bold mission: to unite the community in hope and address inequalities. “This great hope for unity took the form of a collaboration of business, community, labor and government leaders creating solutions to build bridges in our great community. What was born out of a great tragedy more than 50 years ago flourished into a network of more than 80 diverse partnerships and programs,” shared Sharmain. “It is this hunger for unity and equality, even in the face of great adversity, that fuels our efforts today.”
We can get more done together than separately. The partners that comprise the Urban Affairs Coalition are diverse in background and purpose, but united in the belief that together they can change the world. “Our job as leaders in the Coalition is to give partners the resources and guidance to bring change effectively and safely,” said Grant. This deep conviction and commitment empowers the partners of the Coalition to serve more than 250,000 people annually in Philadelphia. That means tackling some of our most pressing inequalities: housing, education, and access to food, healthcare and employment.
“We mitigated damages from the 2008 financial and housing crisis by working with banks to determine a path forward to allow owners to retain the homes they worked so hard for – ultimately creating a national blueprint for communities across the country to do the same,” Sharmain shared. “Together, the Coalition continues to address redlining and discriminatory housing practices.”
More recently, the Coalition has worked tirelessly to help its partners bring impactful solutions to address the opioid crisis that has touched everyone in the local community. The partners of the Coalition are the leading providers of youth summer employment for teens, mentorships and reading support – all critical programs to give citizens in the city the skills and resources they need to live meaningfully and help build a better, more vibrant tomorrow, together.
We are in an unprecedented time of need. COVID-19 continues to ravage our community, both in terms of health and economic stability. “Now, more than ever, we must look to the expertise of our community leaders to address the issues born from the pandemic. Organizations like the Urban Affairs Coalition are deeply invested in studying inequalities, determining the roots of the issues and developing the best practices to address them,” said Grant. When COVID-19 took hold in Philadelphia, the Coalition quickly went to work to fulfill its mission of building bridges. “From deploying teams to relay critical information about relief packages and access to food, to providing Chromebooks to students without access to a computer during school closures, we mobilized our network of experts to respond,” explained Sharmain. What’s more, because of the Coalition’s data-driven approach coupled with its breadth and depth of community knowledge, it is able to address immediate needs while creating a network of support to facilitate the long-term rebuilding the community will need to fully recover.
When you contribute, you change the community. “I firmly believe that it is our shared responsibility to create a prosperous, viable community through addressing inequalities and imbalances. Organizations and leaders have an obligation and an opportunity to share their skills and resources to give experts in our community the tools they need to mobilize for good,” Grant said. “This is why I am particularly passionate about the Urban Affairs Coalition. With a longstanding history of sound leadership and a proven track record of creating lasting change, it is poised to successfully address any challenge that comes our way to create the strongest, healthiest community possible. Our support for the Coalition, through volunteer efforts and as a major sponsor of their annual fundraiser, are just some of the ways Wescott’s leadership team is giving back in these trying times. My hope is that by sharing our philanthropic and community efforts, more people will take the time to learn about wonderful organizations like UAC, and support their work. I’m especially proud that the Wescott staff and our clients embrace the spirit of generosity, because we can make a difference, especially during this time of change for social justice and human equality.”
To learn more about the Urban Affairs Coalition, visit their website: www.uac.org.