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Run to the Fire

Posted by Dave Griffith on October 16, 2019 at 10:40 AM


If you are reading this, you are, or are about to be,  a stakeholder in Episcopal Community Services.


First we say thank you for your commitment and support of our work. You often ask us for the elevator speech on Episcopal Community Services. It strikes us that our annual report letter is an excellent place to share that story.


ECS is a 150-year-old social service agency that has always “run to the fire,” fighting some of the toughest social issues facing Philadelphia and our region. As we enter our 150th year, that fire is clearly intergenerational poverty. Our mission is to challenge poverty, guided by the bedrock values of justice, dignity, community, and impact. We envision a world where access to opportunity is available to all. . What makes ECS unique, however, is that we have chosen to transform the way we challenge poverty. Like many who do this work so faithfully, we had to acknowledge that our approach over the years has certainly relieved human suffering, but has maintained people in poverty. Our compelling vision today is to help people climb out of poverty—for good. It’s called economic mobility and it’s based on leading-edge brain science and backed up by demonstrated results. We do this across all our platforms by addressing our participant’s whole lives, by coaching them to do their own best work, and by staying with them for the long haul. Two years ago in partnership with our board, we implemented a strategic plan. That plan has three elements. First, we began to incorporate economic mobility and coaching methodology into all of our existing programs. Our most significant initiative was the creation of a new program called MindSet to provide economic mobility coaching in a dedicated setting to individuals. Second, we retooled our human resources by adding support personnel so that program staff can shed important but taxing administrative tasks and focus on the programs that change people’s lives. Third, we created an Inclusion and Advocacy department to marshal support across all our constituents to work for sensible public policies that make economic mobility possible in this city and in our country. The addition of a Chaplain helps to carry the advocacy message—and the whole, inspiring ECS story—to the 134 parishes of the Diocese. . We can report that in all these efforts we are on target, on budget. Most importantly, through our measurement systems and first-hand observations we can see progress in all of our programs, making a positive, sustainable impact in the lives of those we serve. We can report that we are receiving national recognition, being asked to provide services to other agencies’ participants, and attracting funding from new and exciting sources—all clear indications of the value of our approach.


We are an agency in transition, addressing intergenerational poverty in ways that require patience, persistence, and an entrepreneurial willingness to learn from successes and failures—our own and others’—so that something truly new and transformative can emerge. Over time we intend to constantly improve our ability to drive positive change in people lives, and raise the funds necessary to scale our work.


All of this happens because of you, our partners and friends. You are part of a movement that believes poverty can be ended, that your own self-fulfillment is inextricably tied to your neighbor’s. Your support, your prayers, and your participation make this work possible. Know you are making a difference.


Know there will always be fires. Know we will always respond.


On behalf of the lives we all are helping to change, we say thank you and if you are new to us, we invite you to join the movement. 


Categories: Muddy Boots, Griffith Thoughts, ECS Outreach

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