The Problem

Almost 40 percent of adults living in poverty in Philadelphia lack a high school credential. Without one, they are at a serious disadvantage when trying to find work or earn family-sustaining wages. Out of reach for them are jobs in the fastest-growing sectors – education and the health services – which require higher education or post-secondary training.

While 210,590 adults in Philadelphia do not have a high school diploma, the number of adults whose lives are impacted by a lack of literacy skills is far larger: an estimated 550,000 individuals are considered low literate. This means that almost 40 percent of the adult population in Philadelphia struggles to fill out a job application, struggles to read doctors’ instructions on their medicines and struggles to help with their children’s homework.

Without a high school credential it is nearly impossible to break the intergenerational poverty that defines too many of the city’s neighborhoods. Without an intervention, more Philadelphia families will be poor and underemployed.

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