Philadelphia, PA, April 8, 2021 – Benefits Data Trust (BDT), a national nonprofit that harnesses the power of data, technology, and policy to provide individuals and families efficient and dignified access to assistance, has been awarded The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Fund for Health and Human Services’ (Pew Fund) first-ever Growth Grant. The five-year, $4 million award, will enable BDT to develop an expansion strategy to increase its reach and impact so more Philadelphians can put food on their tables, stay safely in their homes, and access healthcare for themselves and their children.
The Pew Fund supports service providers assisting individuals and families in the Philadelphia area facing complex challenges, and its Growth Grants are designed to significantly expand the capacity of strong organizations to improve the circumstances of those in need through high-quality, research-informed services and programs.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in four Philadelphians was living below the poverty line. Although critical public benefits that improve health, education, and financial security are available, many are severely underutilized, often because people do not know they are eligible or have difficulty enrolling. In Philadelphia, more than $450 million in federal and state benefits went unused in 2019.
“Benefits don’t help if people can’t access them,” said Trooper Sanders, CEO of Benefits Data Trust. “That’s why we are honored to receive this investment from The Pew Charitable Trusts that will enable us to identify solutions so that we can put benefits to work to tackle poverty and advance equity and opportunity in concert with community organizations across Philadelphia.”
Since 2008, BDT has operated BenePhilly, an initiative that helps low-income Philadelphians enroll in critical benefits. Through support from the City’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO), BenePhilly expanded from just a hotline to also offering in-person assistance at BenePhilly Centers located in community-based organizations across the city. BenePhilly has helped over 125,000 Philadelphians enroll in benefits since its launch. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, BenePhilly has become even more critical to address the increased need, and this grant will help fill that gap.
The five-year award from Pew includes an initial business planning phase to develop a specific and realistic roadmap for increasing BDT and its community partners’ reach and impact. Specifically, the grant will support BDT’s work in:
- Serving significantly more people by facilitating self-service efforts, engaging more community partners, and increasing the number of people BDT’s contact center can serve;
- Engaging underserved populations by deploying strategies informed by research and testing; and
- Assisting with more benefits and improving how BDT refers clients to other organizations for additional services.
“For many Philadelphians, especially for those living in poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated complex challenges,” said Kristin Romens, project director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Fund for Health and Human Services in Philadelphia. “We’ve seen the effectiveness and importance of BDT’s work in putting individuals and families on a path toward financial stability. We’re thrilled to support the expansion of the organization’s efforts to help area residents recover from the pandemic’s economic toll.”
Read The Pew Charitable Trusts' press release here.