Benefits Data Trust Receives $1M to Help Philadelphians Afford Food, Health Care, and Housing through BenePhilly

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Benefits Data Trust is Committed to Transforming How Individuals in Need Access Essential Benefits and Services

With $1M in Funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Benefits Data Trust Will Make Greater Inroads into Identifying and Enrolling Individuals In Need of Critical Services in Benefits Programs

Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaThe Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative today announced that Benefits Data Trust (BDT) will receive a $1 million grant in the Communities Thrive Challenge — a $10-million effort to expand economic opportunity for low-income and financially insecure people and communities across the country. The Philadelphia-based organization is one of 10 grantees — from nine states and Puerto Rico — selected because of their demonstrated success and potential for future impact.

Millions of people are in need of food, healthcare, and housing but are not enrolled in programs that could help meet these needs. Each year, Benefits Data Trust helps tens of thousands of people receive critical supports using data, targeted outreach, policy change, and new technologies. Since its inception, BDT has submitted over 800,000 applications and secured over $7 billion in benefits and services that help individuals and families reach financial stability. BDT and nine other grantees of the Communities Thrive Challenge will receive $1 million to scale their solutions, as well as best-in-class technical assistance.

“Over the past 10 years, BDT and our BenePhilly partners have enrolled over 110,000 low-income Philadelphians in benefits that help pay for groceries, health care, housing, utilities and childcare,” said Ginger Zielinskie, President and CEO of BDT. “Being named as a grantee in the Communities Thrive Challenge is a tremendous opportunity and next step in our larger vision to bring $1 billion in benefits to Philadelphia over the next decade.”

“The enthusiasm for the Communities Thrive Challenge was just off the charts from organizations like Benefits Data Trust, demonstrating a real hunger to share what’s working for the benefit of all Americans,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “By working together to invest in local solutions, we can build an America where all people can earn enough to support their families, achieve financial security, and provide their children with more opportunities.”

“These organizations are creating pathways to opportunity from the ground up. We’ve already learned a lot from these local leaders and hope that others around the country will find useful lessons in these community-driven approaches,” said Priscilla Chan, co-Founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Since launching in April, the Communities Thrive Challenge received an incredible 1,826 applications that spanned all 50 states, D.C., and 4 of 5 U.S. territories. To ensure that community leaders had a voice in the decision making, applications were reviewed and scored by five other applicants in a peer review process.

Following the peer review process, over 80 were chosen for evaluation by a diverse panel of experts from academia, policy, business, philanthropy, and community development. Informed by expert and peer review, 20 finalists were selected for the final round. After extensive interviews, site-visits and reviews, the 10 grantees, including Benefits Data Trust were chosen.

Applications were evaluated based on four main criteria:

  1. Impact: Does the approach improve the lives of the communities where it works?
  2. Potential for scale: Could this approach be effective at a larger scale or become a model for others?
  3. Community based/informed: How deep is the organization embedded within the community it serves?
  4. Leadership: Is the organization led by individuals with a strong history in and commitment to their field and do they represent the communities served?

For the final round, teams from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative visited each of the 20 finalists, including BDT in Philadelphia, PA to learn more about their work and visions for the future. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative then selected the final slate of grantees who will each receive a $1 million grant and technical assistance tailored to their needs.

The Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are expected to release a public, searchable database of eligible applicants by this week so that other funders, policy makers and leaders can learn from these standout approaches.

About Benefits Data Trust

Benefits Data Trust (BDT) is a national nonprofit that helps people live healthier, more independent lives by creating smarter ways to access essential benefits and services. Each year, BDT helps tens of thousands of people receive critical supports using data, technology, targeted outreach, and policy change. Since inception in 2005, BDT has submitted over 800,000 applications – more than any other single entity in the country – securing over $7 billion in benefits and services. BDT employs more than 170 people and provides enrollment assistance to individuals in six states, and policy assistance to states nationwide. For more information, visit

About The Rockefeller Foundation

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation is focused on securing the fundamentals of human well-being—health, food, power, and jobs—to ensure every family experiences dignity and opportunity in our rapidly urbanizing world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. For more information, please visit

About Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges – from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grantmaking, impact investing, policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit