Monday, May 31, 2010

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: May 31, 2010

We at PathWays PA hope that everyone is having a nice Memorial Day! Please remember to thank those who have and who are serving our country.

This Wednesday! The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 Philadelphia Release

PathWays PA is proud to announce the Philadelphia release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011!

WHEN: Wednesday, June 2nd 2:00-4:00
WHERE: United Way Building of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia PA

The Standard measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. The Standard is based on the cost of each basic need in each county—food, housing, health care, child care, transportation and taxes— determined independently using official and publicly available data.

Join us to learn more about the Self-Sufficiency Standard from the President and CEO of PathWays PA, Carol Goertzel, and the author of the Standard, Dr. Diana Pearce.

Please register for this event today!

Federal

Please Support Child Nutrition Programs

Nearly one-quarter of children live in households that do not always have enough food and those families that do have food struggle to access healthful food. Today, nearly one-third on all children are overweight or obese.

Child nutrition programs are critical tools for addressing these challenges. These programs provide children access to nutritious food and meals through the National School Lunch Programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program.

To strengthen the fight against obesity and hunger, the President included a $1 billion increase in funding for Child Nutrition Programs in his budget.

Please contact your member of Congress today and urge him or her to support funding for programs that ensure we have healthy and not hungry or obese children.


Support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Currently, people can be fired in 29 states for being lesbian, gay or bisexual. In 38 states, people can be fired for being transgender. The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) would end that by providing workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

While ENDA has been delayed before, advocates expect it to be up for a vote very soon. Please contact your member of Congress and urge them to support equality in the workplace for all.

Information/Events

Help Make Postsecondary Education a Reality for Low Income Women

Women’s poverty in the United States is rising. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of women living in poverty in 2008 was at its highest level in 10 years.

Congress is set to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program this year. TANF, the 1996 “welfare reform” law, made low income “work first” its priority and severely restricted women’s access to a postsecondary education, making it virtually impossible for a TANF recipient to earn a four year college degree.

Higher educational attainment has been shown dramatically reduces a woman’s chance of living in poverty and significantly increases her earning potential. Women with a bachelor’s degree or higher were only 7 percent of all women living in poverty in 2008 – earning an average of $955 per week; but women with only a high school diploma were 24 percent of those living in poverty – earning slightly more than half as much ($520) per week as their college educated sisters. Moreover, the benefits for their children are far reaching – as they fare better in school and have the example of their mothers for their own aspirations for postsecondary education.

If you believe postsecondary education is important for women please join the Center for Women Policy Studies as they ask you to join in renewing their call to “end the burden of poverty” for women and their children in the USA (click here to read the Contract). For more than two decades, the Center has promoted access to postsecondary education as essential to federal/state policy efforts to reduce women’s poverty and ensure their children’s futures.

Below is a sample message for Congress:
Ensure that TANF recipients and other low income women are able to partake of the American Dream and move from poverty to self-sufficiency. Make postsecondary education a genuine option for TANF recipients and remove the restrictions that prevent them from earning a college degree.

Please join the Center’s Global Honor Roll of Leaders for Women’s Human Rights and work with us to make postsecondary education a reality for low income women in communities nationwide (click here to join the Global Honor Roll). And please share your experiences, your expertise, and your research with cwps@centerwomenpolicy.org.

Please join the Housing Alliance for a Regional Forum: Reshaping Pennsylvania's Housing Market

  • Get new data about what's really going on
  • Hear the latest from DC and Harrisburg on housing
  • Share your thoughts about what's working locally - and what still needs to be done
  • Help shape our agenda for changing the housing market
Join the Housing Alliance for breakfast and networking and bring your literature to share!
Choose one of five locations this spring:

South Central PA
Tuesday, June 8
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Penn State Middletown
Education Activities Building
777 West Harrisburg Pike
Harrisburg, PA 17057
Click to register

Northwest PA
Tuesday, June 8
8:30 a.m. - Noon
St. Marys Country Club
535 S. Michael Road
St. Marys, PA 15857
Click to register

Suburban Southeastern PA
Wednesday, June 23
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Elwyn Campus
Administrative Building - Barr Hall
111 Elwyn Road
Elwyn, PA 19063
Click to register

Central PA
Wednesday, June 30
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Penn State Visitors Center
State College, PA
Click to register

Southwestern PA
Thursday, July 29
8:30 a.m. - Noon
Pittsburgh Location TBD
Click to register 

The forums are FREE, but registration is required.


PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.
  • If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Kelly Binder at kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Looking for Resources for Your Clients, Your Friends, or Yourself?

PathWays PA has begun a new blog designed to share our resources online!

As a nonprofit organization that serves more than 6,000 women, children, and families in the Greater Philadelphia area each year, PathWays PA has developed a number of resources to help us meet our mission: "To help women, teens, children and families achieve economic independence and family well-being."  Throughout the past thirteen months or so, you have been able to access some of these resources through our website, this blog, and our sister blog, The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces.  Now, you can access even more resources on our newest blog, PathWays PA Resource Library.

PathWays PA Resource Library is a compilation of financial education and asset development resources, public benefits information, and career tools for agency staff and community members.  It will be run by PathWays PA's AmeriCorps VISTA members, and will cover topics including:
Please follow our blog, and let us know what you think!

"How much does it cost to make ends meet in Monroe County? Family of four needs $55,000"

By Dan Berrett
Pocono Record Writer
May 28, 2010

How much does it truly cost to make ends meet in the Poconos?

For a family of four — two parents with one child in day care and another school-age — the answer in Monroe County is nearly $55,000.

In Pike, the same family needs close to $59,000.

Those numbers come from a study released last week that calculates the "Self-Sufficiency Standard" for each of Pennsylvania's counties.

Read the full story!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Help Make Postsecondary Education a Reality for Low Income Women

Women’s poverty in the United States is rising. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of women living in poverty in 2008 was at its highest level in 10 years.

Congress is set to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program this year. TANF, the 1996 “welfare reform” law, made low income “work first” its priority and severely restricted women’s access to a postsecondary education, making it virtually impossible for a TANF recipient to earn a four year college degree.

Higher educational attainment has been shown dramatically reduces a woman’s chance of living in poverty and significantly increases her earning potential. Women with a bachelor’s degree or higher were only 7 percent of all women living in poverty in 2008 – earning an average of $955 per week; but women with only a high school diploma were 24 percent of those living in poverty – earning slightly more than half as much ($520) per week as their college educated sisters. Moreover, the benefits for their children are far reaching – as they fare better in school and have the example of their mothers for their own aspirations for postsecondary education.

If you believe postsecondary education is important for women please join the Center for Women Policy Studies as they ask you to join in renewing their call to “end the burden of poverty” for women and their children in the USA (click here to read the Contract). For more than two decades, the Center has promoted access to postsecondary education as essential to federal/state policy efforts to reduce women’s poverty and ensure their children’s futures.

Below is a sample message for Congress:
Ensure that TANF recipients and other low income women are able to partake of the American Dream and move from poverty to self-sufficiency. Make postsecondary education a genuine option for TANF recipients and remove the restrictions that prevent them from earning a college degree.

Please join the Center’s Global Honor Roll of Leaders for Women’s Human Rights and work with us to make postsecondary education a reality for low income women in communities nationwide (click here to join the Global Honor Roll). And please share your experiences, your expertise, and your research with cwps@centerwomenpolicy.org.

Final Vote on FMAP Extension Today: Help Balance Pennsylvania’s Budget

Last night the U.S. House Committee on Rules set the stage for a vote today on H.R. 4213 -the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.

Despite some modifications to the bill, the extended enhanced Medicaid match rate (FMAP) remains in the bill. The extension includes $24.1 billion for 6 months, of which Pennsylvania will receive $848 million. H.R. 4213 also includes crucial extension of the provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) related to unemployment, COBRA, a temporary extension of the Emergency Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fund, as well as other provisions.

This enhanced FMAP is central to PA balancing its 2010-2011 budget without deep cuts to education, health and human services and the job losses that inevitably would follow.

If you feel FMAP is important, please pick up the phone, send an email, and/or offer up a Tweet to members of Congress and ask them to support the reworked Jobs/Tax Extenders Bill and thank them for fighting so hard for the children and families of Pennsylvania.

Below are some Members of the House that need to hear from constituents:

Please remember to also contact Senators Casey (866-802-2833) and Specter (202-224-4254).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

America’s Budget Matters: So Does Yours

Our friends at Wider Opportunities for Women are hosting a "Budget Matters" Blogging Day today. They challenged people to blog about two questions: "What can President Obama and Congress do to help Americans be economically secure while balancing the budget? And what do President Obama and Congress need to know about your budget – or that of those you represent?" You can go to their site and blog your own answers to these questions, and see what other people have to say.


Right now, President Obama and Congress are deciding how to balance America’s budget. When making decisions about the budget, our nation’s leaders need to hear about what matters when it comes to the budgets of all Americans – young and old. With the current recession, we know that more and more individuals are facing an incredibly tight budget – one where some are forced to decided between such essentials as medicine or food.

In Pennsylvania, depending on housing, health, and other circumstances, it can cost between $21,531 and $33,232 for an elderly couple to meet their basic needs (according to the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Pennsylvania). We know that elders cannot make ends meet on Social Security payments alone. The average Social Security payment for a retired couple in Pennsylvania in 2007 was $21,168, less than 80 percent of what the average couple needs to make ends meet. Yet Social Security is the only source of income for one out of nine retired elderly couples. Women are hit particularly hard by the shortfall of Social Security. Single women who rent find themselves falling short of making ends meet by between $3,000 and $11,500.

In Pennsylvania, individuals are also facing cuts to the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. Because of the 2009-2010 state budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. Individuals who relied on SSP used what may seem like a little bit of money to makes ends meet. Now those individuals will either have to choose to go without or will have to cut corners elsewhere. When SSP recipients’ budgets were not considered in the state budget process they felt the impact.

Programs that help people afford essentials such as housing, food, transportation and health care are crucial to vulnerable populations, like our elders, making ends meet. With such supports people are able to approach economic security. America’s budget matters as cuts to its budget will mean huge cuts for those most in need. Please contact your legislators and let them know what your budget looks like and how cuts will hurt.

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - May 26, 2010

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 Release

Over the years of debating the state budget, Pennsylvania has seen many important programs on the chopping block. Some of these programs assist with adult literacy and education, job training, child care, health care, or other work supports. It is important to know just how expensive it is for working families to make ends meet and how much work supports and education can mean to a family when the budget is being debated.

In light of this need for data, PathWays PA is proud to announce the release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011, which shows the cost of making ends meet in every county in Pennsylvania.

With this report, we can now see just how much Pennsylvania families need to earn and why so many working adults and families are struggling.

Please join us to learn more about this important publication:

WHEN: Wednesday, June 2nd 2:00 - 4:00
WHERE: United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA

To register please visit: http://releaseofselfsufficiencystandard.eventbrite.com/


State Budget


Today, the House of Representative was expected to vote on a revenue package approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Monday. This vote has been pushed back until June 7.

House Bill 325 includes a natural gas extraction tax at 8 percent, raises the cigarette tax by 30 cents, and imposes a levy on other tobacco products. The bill, which does not include a tax on cigars, is projected to raise $330 million and is expected to close the revenue gap if combined with spending cuts and increased efficiency.


Philadelphia Budget



Last Thursday, City Council approved the $3.9 billion budget agreed to at the committee level last week. In approving the budget, the City Council did not include the Mayor’s proposed tax on sugary drinks.. The increased revenue in this budget includes a two-year 9.9 percent property tax increase, which is expected to generate $88 million in revenue on a yearly basis. The plan also increases the trash removal fee for commercial properties and imposes a tax on smokeless tobacco and cigars.


In response to the approved budget, the Mayor announced $20 million in budget cuts to provide additional revenues for unplanned expenses. Under his proposal, the city will:
  • Eliminate two new police classes in 2010-2011
  • Close two fire companies (40 positions)
  • Reduce branch library schedules to four days a week
  • Cut the Managing Director's Office’s budget by $1.7 million, which will affect youth violence prevention, Town Watch integrated services, and the CLIP program.
  • Reduce the Division of Technology’s budget by $1.2 million.
  • Decrease the Office of Supportive Housing’s budget by $500,000.
  • Cut the Philadelphia Cultural Fund’s budget by $240,000.

Action Alert

Urge Your Members of Congress to Help Plug an $800 Million Hole in the PA Budget

Before Pennsylvania lawmakers can consider a budget, they need to know what degree of federal assistance they will have. As of today, Congress has yet to pass legislation that includes a temporary extension of the federal enhanced Medicaid match rate (FMAP). If Congress does not act, there will be an additional $800 million hole in the state’s already large deficit.

The House would need to vote for H.R. 4213 American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, a bill that provides a 6-month extension of FMAP. The H.R. 4213 also includes crucial extension of the provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) related to unemployment, COBRA, a temporary extension of the Emergency Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fund, as well as other provisions.

Please call or email your members of Congress today and urge him or her to pass an FMAP extension to ensure that Pennsylvania will not have to make even deeper cuts.

Other Important Programs and Action Steps:

While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:

Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs: The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for literacy, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.

adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Child Care Subsidy: The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

"Study: 33% of Households Here Struggle to Survive; A Family Needs $55,000"

By Tom Murse
Lancaster Intelligencer Journal
May 25, 2010

A couple raising two young children in Lancaster County needs to earn at least $54,821 a year to survive, nearly three times the income the government says it takes to escape poverty, a new study shows.

The findings paint a dire picture for families whose wages have remained stagnant over the last several years as the cost of everything from groceries to child care to doctor bills has steadily risen, advocates say.

Read the whole story!

Monday, May 24, 2010

PathWays PA’s Supervised Independent Living Program Helps Young Mothers Realize Their Potential

Below is the story of a PathWays PA client that was featured on our website:

A few years ago Evette Braswell was in a tough situation. Young, scared and with a family to care for, Evette was on the brink of losing everything. How would she take care of herself? Her children? Without skills or education, she was unable to find good work that would give her family any sense of security. Desperate for help and with nowhere to turn, Evette’s caseworker referred her to PathWays PA’s Supervised Independent Living Program (SIL). Once at PathWays PA, Evette found the security she was looking for, as well as the tools to help her provide for herself and her family, and to Evette nothing could have been more important.

At SIL, young pregnant and parenting teens are provided a place to live while they learn essential life, parenting and educational skills. They are coached toward meaningful education and/or career paths, and are encouraged to follow their game plan. Because many of the girls who come to SIL have backgrounds of chronic neglect and abuse, the skills they learn are vital to their growth as women, and as mothers. With the individualized attention they receive at SIL, clients learn how to take care of their children, and how to map out a future of financial stability for themselves and their families. Of the program, Evette says, “It has helped me to become a better mother to my children, and taught me how to become an independent woman. SIL has played an important role in my life, and in the life of my children; I wouldn't change it for the world.”

After three years in the program, Evette is prepared to become independent and she looks forward to what promises to be a bright future. She now works as a security guard but Evette is determined to save up enough money to continue her education, and to achieve the dream of home ownership. “The PathWays PA program opened my eyes to things I would've never discovered on my own. Without this help I would have lost my kids and would not have developed a positive outlook on life. PathWays PA helped me realize that if I remain focused and keep my eyes on the prize, I can achieve my dreams. I always keep in the back of my head that I’m not doing this just for myself, I’m doing it for my kids and for my family’s future.”

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: May 24, 2010

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 Philadelphia Release

PathWays PA is proud to announce the Philadelphia release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011!

WHEN: Wednesday, June 2nd 2:00-4:00
WHERE: United Way Building of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia PA

The Standard measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. The Standard is based on the cost of each basic need in each county—food, housing, health care, child care, transportation and taxes— determined independently using official and publicly available data.

Join us to learn more about the Self-Sufficiency Standard from the President and CEO of PathWays PA, Carol Goertzel, and the author of the Standard, Dr. Diana Pearce.

Please register for this event today!

Federal

House Expected to Vote on Unemployment Insurance, COBRA, and TANF Emergency Fund Extension 

In the next few days, the House is expected to vote on the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act (HR 4213), which is likely to include:
  • an extension through the end of 2010 of key Unemployment Insurance (UI),
  • an extension through the end of 2010 of COBRA health benefits for unemployed workers,
  • an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) emergency fund through September 2011, and
  • additional funding for summer youth employment programs.
If this bill does not pass, UI benefits will expire on June 2 and COBRA benefits on May 31, leaving millions of workers without essential income supports to cover rent, food and health insurance premiums while they continue to look for employment. The TANF emergency fund, expected to create 185,000 temporary jobs by the end of September, will expire on September 30, while the summer jobs program, which was responsible for putting over 300,000 youth to work in 2009, won’t be funded in 2010.

If you support these programs, please contact your Representative today to urge support of HR4213.


Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Federal Tax Policies that Make Work Pay and Help Parents

Too many low and moderate-income Pennsylvanians continue to face economic insecurity and tough choices regarding housing, food, health care, and child care. Now more than ever it remains critical that national policies assure that work pays and that families are able to retain their hard earned wages through well-targeted and fiscally responsible tax legislation.

Please sign on to a letter urging your Members of Congress to support the continuation of tax credits that effectively promote work, are family-friendly, and are good for the economy. Specifically we urge you to make the following tax policies permanent:
  • The Child Tax Credit, which was expanded as part of the economic recovery act benefiting 576,000 Pennsylvania children, allows low-income working families to count more of their wages below $13,000 to calculate their credit. If this tax credit is reversed, a mom or dad working for the minimum wage raising two children would see her/his credit cut from $1,750 to $250. The credit should also be expanded to apply to a family’s first dollar of earnings.
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which was increased under the economic recovery act for families with three children, benefits 319,000 children from Pennsylvania. Previously, a family with five children received the same credit as a family with two children despite the undeniable additional costs of supporting a larger family.
  • The EITC marriage penalty relief, which the economic recovery act expanded, reduce the financial penalty some couples face when they marry. About 5 million adults and 8 million children benefit from the change.
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit was made available to millions of low- and moderate income students for the first time under the recovery act. The credit’s maximum value increased from $1,800 to $2500.
  • The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which the President proposes to extend to more families in his FFY 2011 budget. For a family earning $50,000, the proposal would increase the maximum credit from $1,200 to $2,100.
Please sign on to urge the PA Congressional delegation to support federal tax policies that make work pay, help parents support their children and lay the foundation for America’s long term economic recovery by Tuesday, May 25.

State

Call Your State Lawmakers on Monday, May 24 & Tuesday, May 25

This week, the state House of Representatives will take up legislation (HB 2435) that will reform the tax system, raise revenue and preserve health care, education and human services.

If new revenue is not raised, the General Assembly will have to respond to the state's recession-driven budget crisis with cuts to job training, hospitals, behavioral health services, and services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. HB 2435 will raise needed revenue by closing corporate tax loopholes, enacting a severance tax on natural gas production, assessing an excise tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco, and closing a sales tax giveaway.

Please contact your Representative today and tomorrow and urge him or her to support HB 2435. Below is a sample message for legislators:

I am a constituent and I want you to support HB 2435.
  • Before making additional service cuts that will hurt Pennsylvania families and our fragile economic recovery, please raise new revenue.
  • Solving the budget crisis with cuts alone will leave thousands more Pennsylvanians vulnerable and will cost jobs.
  • We can no longer afford tax loopholes and special tax preferences.
Urge Your Legislators to Support adultBasic
Even though health care reform has passed, many would be surprised to know that about 40,000 adults in Pennsylvania may be losing their access to the adultBasic program.

adultBasic is an affordable health care option for adults who have recently lost health coverage and meet certain income guidelines. Participants pay $36 a month and co-pays ranging from $10 to $50 for doctor and hospital visits. In Pennsylvania, more than 40,000 are receiving the full benefits of the program, while the waitlist stands at over 380,000.

This program is scheduled to end on December 31, 2010, when a law requiring financial support from insurance providers expires. Without additional funding, this program will end and nearly 40,000 Pennsylvanians will loose their health coverage.

If you support this program, please call, write, or email your legislators. Also please spread the word to any individuals that are currently receiving adultBasic as many are not aware that this program may expire.

Information/Events

Recruiting and Retaining Women in Green Training and Employment

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is pleased to host a series of teleconferences for workforce practitioners, designed to offer information and an exchange of ideas to better connect women with green jobs and green jobs training. This area of workforce development is an important part of preparing our nation to be competitive in the new economy. The teleconferences are geared towards workforce professionals, career advisors, and educators, although interested women are welcome to participate as well.

The third teleconference in this series, “Recruiting and Retaining Women in Green Training and Employment” will take place on May 25, 2010 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT. In this teleconference, you will hear about techniques for outreach, recruitment, and retention of women in green fields, as well as strategies to help women overcome barriers or concerns that may block their path to success.

Participation is limited, so register early! Please visit the Women's Bureau Website for more information or register here.

PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.
  • • If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Kelly Binder at kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

More on the Self-Sufficiency Standard

Over the weekend, the Inquirer ran an editorial featuring the Self-Sufficiency Standard.  Others who have mentioned the Standard this weekend include:

Friday, May 21, 2010

PathWays PA Job Postings - May 20, 2010

Residential Worker
Need caring and motivated individual to provide support and supervision for Delco group home serving women and children; HS/GED, Associates Degree and experience preferred; driver’s license required. Includes nights and weekends. Fax resumes to: LD/CFF 610-328-2807.


Childcare Worker
Child Learning Center at Delco Group home. Must have knowledge of early childhood development & ability to nurture and promote positive growth in pre school age children. AA in Early Childhood Ed. preferred. Fax resume to LD/CFF 610-328-2807.


Trauma-informed Therapists
PathWaysPA is seeking quality therapists to provide trauma-informed therapeutic services to women, teen mothers and teen girls in their homes. Must be trained-in trauma-informed services and be familiar with the S.E.L.F. model; must also be comfortable addressing sexual abuse and domestic violence issues. Flexible hours required. LSW and credentialed/eligible to be credentialed to provide services to CBH members required. Philadelphia and some DELCO area. Full time and Part time position available. Fax resumes to: BD/LD 610-328-2807

Job Developer
To develop employment opportunities for participants by networking and establishing relationships with the regional business community and matching customers to permanent, family-sustaining career-track jobs.
• Bachelor’s Degree required with at least 2-3 years experience in human resources, job development, marketing and/or sales
• Strong Analytical Skills
• Excellent Verbal and Written Communication Skills
• Computer Literate (Word/Excel)
• Bilingual in English/Spanish preferred.
• Identify, cultivate and maintain relationships with employers that offer appropriate jobs and
• Internship opportunities for customers. Ensure that a majority of these jobs offer living wages and benefits.
• Establish contact with customers in order to determine previous work history and employment interests to help customers chart an employment course.
Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attn: LD/EF

AMERICORPS VISTA
We’re looking for some stars – are you ready to shine?
Whether you have left school, are getting ready to graduate, are already working, or are retired but looking to give back to the community, we have opportunities for you to enhance your life while serving the lives of others. The Americorps VISTA program offers a living allowance, money for college or student loans, healthcare and childcare. Additional benefits may be available. Self-motivated individuals interested in helping others with good organizational and computer skills should apply. Spanish a plus. Located in Philadelphia, PA suburb (Delaware County) near public transportation. Fax resumes and cover letters to MB at 610-543-1549. Please tell us which opportunity interests you!


Volunteer Manager: The Volunteer Manager will be responsible for fulfilling recruitment needs within PathWays PA’s Self-Sufficiency Department. The manager will also make volunteer recruitment sustainable by training staff and/or volunteers to take over the program in the future. Prior experience managing volunteers preferred.

Publications Analyst: This position will be split between two locations - Delaware County, PA and Wayne, PA, with the VISTA member spending half their time at one organization as a Publications Analyst and half at another organization as a Career Services Program Coordinator. At both organizations, the member will be responsible for developing and marketing publications, curriculum, and services. The member will also expand the web presence of both organizations to make better use of social media, online newsletters, etc. Strong writing background and English/Communications studies preferred, as well as knowledge of social media.

Healthcare Sector Analyst: The Healthcare Sector Analyst will be responsible for collecting and disseminating research and information to Delaware County Healthcare Partnership members. The analyst will also collect and evaluate data to show the impact of Partnership programs and improve the programs offered. Knowledge of the healthcare industry and workforce issues preferred.


PA CareerLink VISTA: The PA CareerLink VISTA will market a myriad of services of the public workforce development system to employers in the local geographic area. The primary goal of the VISTA member’s outreach efforts will be to establish new employer accounts while maintaining existing accounts. The successful candidate must possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills.


PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Healthcare Partnership - A Success in the Making: A Collection of Stories from Employers, Educators, and Workers

On May 14th, the Delaware County Healthcare Partnership, which is facilitated by PathWays PA, held a recognition breakfast to highlight the workers, educators, and employers who have made such a difference to our Industry Partnership.

The Delaware County Healthcare Partnership is one of 70+ Industry Partnerships in Pennsylvania that bring together employers, workers, educators, and nonprofits to provide classes and training for high priority occupations in the state.  This video highlights some of the successes from the past year.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Self-Sufficiency Standard in the Media

PathWays PA released it's 2010-2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard today in Harrisburg.  You can read the Standard on our website, and a front page article on it in the Philadelphia Inquirer as well. Other news media we've seen so far:

Where else have you seen it? Please tell us in the comments!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Audio from Press Conference Now Available

--Embargoed until 12:00 AM May 20, 2010--

Income needs of Pennsylvania's working families continue to increase

A family of two adults, one preschooler, and one schoolage child in Delaware County needs to earn $67,238 to make ends meet, which equals 305% of the Federal Poverty Level.

WHAT:
Release of statewide report on the financial condition of Pennsylvania's working families:
Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011

Audio from Tuesday's Press Conference Now Available at http://pathwayspa.org/Audio_Press_Conference_SSS_10_11.mp3

Copies of the report are available at http://pathwayspa.org/10-11_SS_Standard.pdf

Includes comments from:
Dr. Diana Pearce, author of the report, will be available to take questions along with
Dr. Robert Garraty, Deputy Secretary of Workforce Development, PA Department of Labor and Industry and
Carol Goertzel, President/CEO of PathWays PA


HARRISBURG - From food to transportation, it costs Pennsylvania's working families more to adequately meet the rising costs of living, according to the latest edition of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011.

PathWays PA, a services and advocacy organization for women, children and families, will present the report, which is updated every two years. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania provides a "real world" approach to measuring the income needs of families in every county in the state so that they can meet those needs without relying on public or private assistance.The Standard is based on the cost of each basic need in each county-food, housing, health care, child care, transportation and taxes- determined independently using verifiable and publicly available data.

As a measure, the Standard provides a more accurate picture than do federal poverty guidelines on the economic needs of working families. For example, a Self-Sufficiency Wage for a family with two adults and two children in Delaware County is $67,238, which is 305% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The 7th edition of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania was developed by Diana M. Pearce, Ph.D., director for the Center for Women's Welfare, University of Washington School of Social Work. It was prepared by university staff along with Marianne Bellesorte, Carol Goertzel and Kate Scully of PathWays PA.

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - May 19, 2010

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 Release

Over the years of debating the state budget, Pennsylvania has seen many important programs on the chopping block. Some of these programs assist with adult literacy and education, job training, child care, health care, or other work supports. It is important to know just how expensive it is for working families to make ends meet and how much work supports and education can mean to a family when the budget is being debated.
In light of this need for data, PathWays PA is proud to announce the release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011, which shows the cost of making ends meet in every county in Pennsylvania. With this report, we can now see just how much Pennsylvania families need to earn and why so many working adults and families are struggling.

Please join us in Harrisburg to learn more about this important publication.

WHEN: Thursday, May 20th - 10:00 AM

WHERE: Harrisburg - Capitol Rotunda

WHO: Sandi Vito, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry, and more!

Please call Kate Scully at 610-543-5022 x 255 to let us know if you can attend, and please bring your colleagues. Copies of the report will be available.

Can't Make it to Harrisburg? Join us for the Philadelphia Release on June 2 at 2 PM!

Come to this Release and learn more about the Self-Sufficiency Standard, what this edition says about Pennsylvania, and to learn ways you can use the Standard in your work.

WHO: Carol Goertzel, President & CEO of PathWays PA
           Dr. Diana Pearce, Author of the Study

WHEN: Tuesday, June 2nd 2:00 - 4:00

WHERE: United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA

To register please visit: http://releaseofselfsufficiencystandard.eventbrite.com/.

State Budget

With the primary elections over, the General Assembly will return to session next week. Both the House and Senate will continue their work on the budget, with the House considering a bill that will raise revenue by closing corporate loopholes, enact a severance tax on natural gas production, assess an excise tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco, and close a sales tax giveaway. (To learn more about this bill and related actions, please see our Action Alerts section below.)


Local Impacts: How School Are Faring During this Difficult Budget Season

As the school districts wait for the state’s budget many are already making cuts and raising taxes in anticipation of another difficult budget season. Below are some examples of how local school districts are dealing with limited budgets.

More information about schools can be found on Twitter by following @paschoolfunding.


Philadelphia Budget 

Last week, City Counsel moved toward passage of a budget for Philadelphia by approving a $3.9 million tentative budget deal.

The deal did not include a tax on sugary drinks but instead had a two-year 9.9 percent increase in property tax. It would raise $86 million for the city in 2011 and increase the average bill for property owners by $113 a year. The increase is scheduled to end in 2013, when rates would return to current levels.

The Council budget package also included new taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco to raise $4 million and a $300 trash-collection fee for small businesses and multiunit dwellings that would raise $7 million.

Mayor Nutter does not believe that the revenue package that passed City Council will be enough to leave the city with enough surplus to cover unexpected costs. He plans to continue trying to convince City Council to pass a tax on sugary drinks. The original tax was to be 2 cents per ounce and has now been reduced to a ¾ of a cent per ounce tax.

Action Alerts

Act Now to Prevent New Round of Budget Cuts – Ask Your Representative to Support House Bill 2435

Recently, a bill was introduced that would end special interest tax breaks in order to preserve critical public services like education and health care by raising $370 million in the first year.

House Bill 2435 adopts many of the revenue proposals made in the Governor’s budget, but at different levels. It is meant to close corporate tax loopholes, enact a severance tax on natural gas production, assess an excise tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco, and close a sales tax giveaway. The legislation also includes a reduction in the corporate tax rate and other business tax cuts long sought by the business community.

Please contact your Representative and urge him or her to support HB 2435.


Other Important Programs and Action Steps:

While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:


Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs: The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for literacy, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.


State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.


adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Child Care Subsidy: The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 Release

PathWays PA is proud to announce the release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011!

WHEN: Thursday, May 20th - 10:00 AM

WHERE: Harrisburg - East Wing Rotunda

WHO: Sandi Vito, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry, and more!

The Standard measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. The Standard is based on the cost of each basic need in each county-food, housing, health care, child care, transportation and taxes- determined independently using official and publicly available data.


Please join us in Harrisburg to learn more about this important publication. Call Kate Scully at 610-543-5022 x 255 to let us know if you can attend, and please bring your colleagues. Copies of the report will be available.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Free Shingles Vaccinations at the Delaware County State Health Center


(From our friends at the Delaware County State Health Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.)

The PA Department of Health is offering Free Shingles Vaccinations at the Delaware County State Health Center for people over the age of 60. Shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles includes a painful skin rash, often with blisters. Other symptoms include headache, fever, chills and upset stomach. Shingles is more common in people 50 years of age and older and occurs in at least one million people a year in the United States. It is also more common in people whose immune systems are weakened because of a disease such as cancer, or drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy. A single dose of the shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older. If you have questions about the vaccine or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 610-447-3250.

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/prashant_zi/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Media Advisory: Income needs of Pennsylvania working families continue to increase

EMBARGOED UNTIL 12 AM May 20

Income needs of Pennsylvania working families continue to increase
Latest edition of Self-Sufficiency Standard finds costs growing even as incomes do not

On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, at 4:00 PM, reporters will have the opportunity to call a dedicated phone line to interview leaders from PathWays PA and the report’s author. Contact Marianne Bellesorte, Director of Policy, 610-543-5022 x209 or mbellesorte@pathwayspa.org if you wish to participate in the virtual press conference. You must register to get the press conference phone number.

WHAT: Release of statewide report on the financial condition of Pennsylvania working families:
Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011


HARRISBURG – From food to transportation, it costs Pennsylvania’s working families more to adequately meet the rising costs of living, according to the latest edition of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011.

PathWays PA, a services and advocacy organization for women, children and families, will present the report, which is updated every two years. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania provides a “real world” approach to measuring the income needs of families in every county in the state so that they can meet those needs without relying on public or private assistance. The Standard is based on the cost of each basic need in each county—food, housing, health care, child care, transportation and taxes— determined independently using verifiable and publicly available data.

As a measure, the Standard provides a more accurate picture than do federal poverty guidelines on the economic needs of working families. For example, a Self-Sufficiency Wage for a family with two adults and two children in Dauphin County is $53,316, which is 241 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

The 7th edition of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania was developed by Diana M. Pearce, Ph.D., director for the Center for Women’s Welfare, University of Washington School of Social Work. It was prepared by university staff along with Marianne Bellesorte, Carol Goertzel and Kate Scully of PathWays PA.

On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, at 4:00 PM, reporters will have the opportunity to call a dedicated phone line to interview leaders from PathWays PA and the report’s author. Contact Marianne Bellesorte, Director of Policy, 610-543-5022 x209 or mbellesorte@pathwayspa.org if you wish to participate in the virtual press conference. You must register to get the press conference phone number.

###
PathWaysPA, the began in 1978 as the Women's Association for Women's Alternatives, one of Pennsylvania's first residential programs to keep low-income, vulnerable women together with their children. It has grown to become one of the Greater Philadelphia region's foremost providers of residential and community-based services for women and their children. Each year PathWaysPA serves more than 4,400 women, children and families who reside in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Chester counties through a full complement of social services, job training and employment assistance, outreach and residential programs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: May 17, 2010

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 Release

PathWays PA is proud to announce the release of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011!

WHEN: Thursday May 20, 2010, 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Capitol Rotunda

The Standard measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. The Standard is based on the cost of each basic need in each county—food, housing, health care, child care, transportation and taxes— determined independently using official and publicly available data.

Please join us in Harrisburg to learn more about this important publication.

Federal

Urge Congress to Continue Tax Credits for Working Families

In 2009, Congress made significant improvements to three federal tax credits that help working families with children: the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Targeted to assist low-income working families, these expansions are scheduled to expire after tax year 2010. If they are allowed to expire, working parents earning near or just above the minimum wage will suffer a loss of $1,500 or more. Preserving the tax credit levels set in 2009 will promote work, help with the high cost of raising children, and make college more affordable.

Please ask your organization to sign a letter urging Congress to continue tax credits for working families. The deadline for signing is May 21.

To learn more about the importance of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, please see this fact sheet.

Support the Child Nutrition Act

In March, the Child Nutrition Act was approved by the Senate’s Agriculture Committee and now needs to move onto the full Senate for a vote. In addition to bring the bill up for a vote, it needs to be ensured that the bill contains adequate funding – the full $1 billion per year as requested by the President (the Senate bill includes $450 million in funding).

Please show your support on this important child nutrition letter to ensure that the reauthorization bill provides more low-income children with access to programs and makes progress toward ending child hunger. There are two steps you can take:
  1. Sign the letter today. It is critical to have as many groups as possible on the letter. The deadline is COB Friday, May 28.
  2. Spread the word: Share the letter with other state and local organizations and encourage them to sign on. Being able to provide a strong list of diverse endorsers in each state helps us when talking to individual members of Congress.
If you have any questions please contact Brett Weisel, Advocacy Manager, at bweisel@feedingamerica.org or 202-546-7001 ext 6554.

If you would like to learn more please see the Hunger Action Center’s website.

Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA)

On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), which provided funding to renew and expand CHIP coverage. This new legislation preserves health coverage for millions of children who already rely on CHIP, and provides resources for states to offer CHIP coverage. CHIPRA finances CHIP through 2013, adding $33 billion in federal funds for children’s health coverage; this is great news to families with children who are uninsured.

Originally created in 1997, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a state and federal partnership that provides low-cost health insurance coverage for children in families who earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to purchase private health insurance coverage. Children enrolling in the program must be otherwise uninsured.

If you think CHIPRA is important, please contact your members of Congress today and let them know so we can ensure this program continues to receive the funding it needs.

To learn more about the children’s health insurance program in Pennsylvania, simply go to http://www.chipcoverspakids.com.


Information/Events

Primary Election Day - Tuesday May 18th

This Tuesday, May 18th is the Primary Election. Polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. Below is some information and guides put together by the Vote for Homes! Coalition.

Who are we voting for?

Voters registered as Democrats or Republicans will vote for the following: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, State Senators and State Representatives, and Committee People. All registered voters can vote on ballot questions.

Non-Partisan Voter Resources

Voter Rights Information:

Who can vote?
  • All those  over the age of 18 who registered by April 19, 2010.
  • You can vote if you are on probation or parole, serving time for a misdemeanor, in jail awaiting trial, on house arrest, have a previous felony record in PA or another state. You cannot vote if you are currently serving time for a felony or are on pre-release status.
Where do I vote?

If you live in Philadelphia and need a ride to the polls, more information or if you are having trouble voting please call Vote for Homes! at 215-232-7272, x3042 (Ride request forms available at www.voteforhome.org)

For more information about Vote for Homes! visit www.voteforhomes.org or contact Jennine Miller at 215-232-7272, x3042 or jmiller@projecthome.org.

Is Your Organization at Risk of Losing Tax-Exempt Status?

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 stated that tax-exempt organizations, with the exception of churches or other houses of worship, must file a yearly return or notice with the IRS. If an organization has not filed an annual return in the past three years (even those with gross receipts normally under $25,000), the law is such that it automatically loses its tax-exempt status.

Loss of exempt status means an organization must file income tax returns and pay income tax and that its contributors will not be able to deduct their donations. Organizations will have to re-file for recognition as tax-exempt with the IRS.

There is a website that contains a searchable database of those local community non-profits who are at risk of losing their non-profit status on Monday, May 17, unless they file their required forms:
The smallest nonprofits (those with gross receipts normally under $25,000) only need to fill out Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard. Completing the e-Postcard only requires the eight items listed below:

  1. Employer identification number (EIN), also known as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)).
  2. Tax year
  3. Legal name and mailing address
  4. Any other names the organization uses
  5. Name and address of a principal officer
  6. Web site address if the organization has one
  7. Confirmation that the organization's annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less
  8. If applicable, a statement that the organization has terminated or is terminating (going out of business)

The IRS also has detailed information on who needs to file, as well as Frequently Asked Questions and fact sheets that you can share with groups in your district.  More information can also be found at the National Council of Nonprofits or at the State Association.


PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.
  • If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Kelly Binder at kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

PathWays PA Celebrates AmeriCorps Week

PathWays PA Celebrates AmeriCorps Week and the 700 Million Hours AmeriCorps Members Have Spent Addressing Problems in Communities

AmeriCorps*VISTA members at PathWays PA, a non-profit organization that assists low-income families and individuals to gain self-sufficiency in the greater Philadelphia area, joined the fourth nationwide celebration of AmeriCorps Week, May 8-15, spotlighting the vital work done by AmeriCorps members in communities across the country since the national service program began sixteen years ago.

Since its inception in 1994, nearly 650,000 men and women have joined AmeriCorps, and they have committed more than 700 million hours to addressing real problems in communities -- from soaring dropout rates to unemployment and finding affordable housing.


At PathWays PA, AmeriCorps VISTAs spent the months leading up to AmeriCorps Week coordinating the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program in their local communities. This service assists low-income families and individuals to file their taxes and receive credits they are entitled to at no charge. Now that the tax season is complete, VISTAs are turning their attention to other projects.

One VISTA, Kelly Binder, has been compiling data from the various tax sites in order to evaluate the program’s success and show how it can extend its reach next year. “It’s exciting to see how much money our program returned to the community, mostly from the Earned Income Credit,” Binder says. “Our numbers improved from last year, and that shows that there really is a need for this service,” she adds. Last year PathWays PA prepared 1,005 returns. This year the total improved to more than 1,600 returns, bringing back $2,606,771 in refunds to the community.

Ryan Roderick, another PathWays PA VISTA, is preparing a guidebook for senior citizens that discusses the trials of aging and provides resources to help them navigate their finances. “There’s a lot of information out there geared towards younger age groups about the value of saving and asset building,” Roderick says, “But there aren’t many resources for seniors, especially as they face deteriorating health and financial insecurities.” Roderick has also worked to enhance the organization’s outreach by translating financial resource guides into Spanish.

Together with Kelly Binder, VISTA Anna Walker has spent her post-tax season working on PathWays PA’s healthcare sector projects. Most notably, Walker created a video collage to showcase the accomplishments of the Delaware County Healthcare Partnership, a conglomeration of organizations dedicated to providing career advancement in the healthcare field through training and resources. “I signed up to work on the project because I think it’s valuable for the partners and supporters involved in the Healthcare Partnership to hear the stories and celebrate the success of clients, employers, and teachers involved,” Walker says.

Other VISTA work includes outreach to the community about public benefits and financial education, which involves compiling information on the services and resources that are available to clients. “The resources are out there, but they’re scattered,” says Rachel Ludman, an AmeriCorps VISTA working on this project. “I’m creating a virtual library that puts all of them in one place and is accessible to both PathWays PA staff and members of the community,” Ludman adds. Ludman is also reaching out to the community through coordinating a grant that offers emergency rent and utility assistance to families in need.

AmeriCorps VISTAs at PathWays PA are dedicated to promoting the sustainability of their projects. Ludman created a manual to guide staff members on how to help community members access public benefits. Nicole Coia, another VISTA, designed presentations on money management for use by various programs at PathWays PA, including a youth employment program and an education savings program for low income students. “PathWays has accumulated an assortment of information on financial education over the years.” Coia says, “I’m hoping to organize it in to a more accessible, lasting format.”

PathWays PA also has VISTA members working on projects in Pittsburgh: two are serving at Just Harvest, an organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, and two are at Family Resources of PA, whose mission is to prevent and treat child abuse.  Other PathWays PA VISTA members serve at the Women's Resource Center in Wayne and at the PA CareerLink in Chester.

AmeriCorps works through existing organizations to help them expand their reach and better achieve their mission. Last year alone AmeriCorps members recruited 2.5 million community volunteers to serve alongside them and raised over $183 million in support of local service initiatives.

Approximately 2,900 AmeriCorps members are serving in Pennsylvania this year. Since 1994 more than 31,000 Pennsylvania residents have served more than 39 million hours. Interest in AmeriCorps is at an all time high, with applications to the program increasing threefold over the past year.

AmeriCorps members typically remain active in their communities when their term of service is complete. In addition to being counted on as volunteers, many pursue careers in nonprofit where they further the AmeriCorps mission to build resources in their communities and address difficult issues. Additionally, many AmeriCorps members go on to further their education. At the completion of their year of service, they are eligible to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,350, which can be used to pay back student loans or cover future tuition costs.

--Nicole Coia