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The Promise History and Overview

In 2020, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey teamed up with the City of Philadelphia to introduce a new public-private partnership aimed at reducing poverty and promoting equitable recovery from the pandemic. Our collective strategy has been informed by partners such as Monitor Institute by Deloitte and Moody’s Analytics and designed to build a community-informed, evidence-based strategy to address Philadelphia’s high rate of poverty. In early 2020, City Council released the Poverty Action Plan, detailing an aligned set of interventions to reduce Philadelphia’s poverty rate. In Spring 2020, United Way led a community-informed process that inspired a citywide initiative to inform and adapt the model. In October 2020, City Council introduced legislation for The Promise to collaboratively invest in effective interventions and intensive measurement and learning. In November 2020, The Promise launched its first Community Challenge centered around family stability and access to public benefits, with grantees announced in February 2021. In November 2021, The Promise launched its first record clearing and employment access challenge; programming has been taking place since May 2022 and will run through June 2023.

The Promise is a joint effort between United Way, the City of Philadelphia, and private philanthropy to reduce Philadelphia’s poverty rate and create opportunities for an equitable recovery from the economic collapse. Through this initiative, a public-private fund has been developed to streamline evidence-focused grantmaking processes and support high-performing community organizations and partnerships. The Promise is administered at United Way, with a separate governing board, three content-specific advisory committees, and independent staff to provide guidance and direction throughout the grant process. Grantees of The Promise will have the ability to be connected to United Way’s other offerings; in this instance, programs such as workforce development and entrepreneurship may be of interest to the clients of grantees.

The Promise has three primary components:

  • A citywide awareness-building strategy to ensure all residents of our region can engage in the fight against poverty and strive collaboratively for an equitable recovery
  • A community investment process anchored by a series of Challenges, designed to invest deeply in place-based and population-based collaborations to maximize opportunity, income, and stability for families facing poverty
  • A Knowledge Center to support data collection, evaluation, learning, and transparent reporting on outcomes and to ensure continuous improvement and adaptation

Through the Promise, the United Way is releasing its next Community Challenge centered again on record sealing and employment access. We are excited to continue to be part of one of the largest, if not the largest, record sealing and clearing initiatives this city has ever seen. Through this year’s community challenge, we plan to fund a minimum of 15 clinics and community events throughout July 2023-June 2024, while also connecting these clinics to high-quality workforce partners and research partners. These partnerships will be innovative and large-scale and we look forward to beginning this work and to contributing to the body of research connecting record sealing and clearance to increased employment access and opportunity. We are inviting organizations with legal expertise and/or deep community reach to a collaborative process that includes:

1. Conducting outreach and engagement to make Philadelphians aware of record sealing opportunities through Clean Slate and follow-up petitioning for expungement or pardons

2. Hosting record sealing and clearing clinics at trusted community hubs across the city

3. Providing direct services to Philadelphia residents including:

  • Running their criminal history checks to make residents aware of their arrest and conviction records and the impacts of Clean Slate laws on sealing some/all of those records;
  • Identifying records that may be eligible for sealing or expungement through a petition process or pardon through a pardon application
  • Filing petitions and following up with residents to help further seal and/or clear past records

4. As available, provide access to other employment and income supports including job search, resume development, interview preparation, benefits access, basic needs, and/or other on-site services.

Legal Services

Program Area: Legal Services

Anticipated Number of Awards: 2-5

Amount: $200,000 - $400,000. Amount awarded will  depend on number of applications and capacity of applicants. Final funding  awards will be subject to change based on review.

Scope of Work: The Promise is seeking proposals from nonprofits to provide the personnel and legal expertise necessary to execute effective record sealing and expungement clinics. Selected grantees will work closely with local community organizations and host sites to coordinate and deliver services to community members.

Activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Develop a plan to facilitate 5-8 record sealing clinics throughout July 2023-June 2024, in partnership with community organizations (note: the partnerships themselves do not have to be established at the time of application and will be facilitated by the Promise). If you have additional expertise to offer The Promise while facilitating fewer than 5 clinics, such as pardon expertise and referral capacity, please detail this in your application and budget.

2. Collaborate with community organizations to ensure they have the content and resources needed to successfully conduct outreach and awareness building for clinics

3. Collaborate with community organizations to provide 5-8 record sealing and expungement services at a significant scale over a year-long period. Services may include:

  • Running background checks to make residents aware of their records and what arrests/convictions may have been sealed through Clean Slate laws
  • Filing record sealing petitions for convictions not sealed through Clean Slate, but potentially eligible
  • Filing expungement petitions for convictions that may be eligible for full expungement

4. Deploy legal professionals to 5-8 clinics over a year-long week period; maintain flexibility in the dates of clinics and understanding that many may  occur on weekends

5. Follow up with participants to report new updates and collect outcomes data on successful removal of barriers to the workforce and employment outcomes

6. Collect and report output and outcome data in partnership with the Knowledge Center and any other identified research partner Collect and report  output and outcome data in partnership with the Knowledge Center and any other identified research partner

7. Serve clients taken on at these clinics through the entire length of their record clearing process, even if that process extends past June 2024; maintain flexibility on reporting timelines and understand periodic reports will likely be needed on these clients even after the grant period has ended

Performance Measures: To ensure the successful development and execution of a robust evaluation plan, we seek to work with grantees to ensure clearly defined data collection and assessment parameters that focus on the measurement of short- and long-term outcomes. Grantees will be expected, along with their collaborative partners, to track client output data and follow up with individuals to monitor their outcomes over time. Expectations related to data collection and measurement activities include:

  • Developing and/or facilitating qualitative surveys and interviews with frontline staff, partner and stakeholder leadership, and individuals served across the partnership network (in partnership with an external evaluation partner)
  • Assessing partnership collaborations and any changes made to improve organizational effectiveness and service delivery
  • (Short-term Outcomes) Developing, reviewing, and monitoring implementation metrics and performance metrics that are crucial for course correction and continuous improvement
  • (Long-term Outcomes) Conducting a longitudinal evaluation beyond the 1-year grant that tracks longer-term outcomes expected as a result of the shorter-term gains (in partnership with Promise-identified research partner)

Selection Criteria

1. Target area and populations [20 points]

  • Does the applicant have experience delivering legal services to high-needs communities or populations?
  • Does the applicant and its partners have the capacity to reach and engage a high volume of participants?

2. Planned objectives [15 points]

  • Does the applicant lay out an ambitious plan to reach and maximize resources to community residents?
  • Does the applicant set reachable goals, given the investment and timeline?

3. Description of approach and activities [40 points]

  • Do the timeline and planned activities adequately address the stated objectives?
  • Do the partners have a clear plan to integrate services and maximize value?
  • Does the partnership have capacity to collect data and measure impact?
  • Does the partnership provide a strong return on investment, based on the service and benefits provided?

4. Management and organizational capacity [15 points]

  • Is the team equipped to undertake substantial growth and fast-paced implementation?
  • Is the organization financially stable and able to manage a large infusion of capital?
  • Is there organizational experience with robust, long-term data collection?
  • Is there organizational experience working with third party evaluators to conduct impact assessments?

5. Budget and Budget Narrative [10 points]

  • Does the applicant describe a clear and logical plan for allocating resources?

6. Year one experience (+/- 5 points)

  • Applicants can receive up to 5 bonus points or have up to 5 points deducted based on year 1 performance and the responses to the year 1 section questions

There will be an Informational Webinar about this RFP, including time for Q&A, on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 from 1pm-2pm. This webinar is not mandatory, but it is encouraged. Webinar attendance will not impact your application score. To register for this webinar, click here and fill out the form. If you register, you will be emailed the zoom link before the meeting; in the meantime please place a hold on your calendar for March 1 from 1-2pm.

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