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Introducing Thriving,’s new yearlong reporting series on economic opportunity

Backed by the William Penn Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, will speak to hundreds about their economic lives.'s Thriving project launches summer 2022. ( image)

This report is part of Thriving, a yearlong storytelling initiative from focused on the lived experiences of Philadelphia and comparative city residents. The goal is to generate insights about the economic opportunities and obstacles along their journeys to financial security. Here's who we're focusing on and why.

Personal experience can tell you something data alone can’t.

While reading a peer-reviewed study is certainly informative, for instance, it probably won’t encourage many kids to pursue tech careers. It’s a lot more influential to meet a MySpace savant-turned-advocate for Black engineers. You might know that small-scale apprenticeship programs help transition immigrant STEM workers into American software jobs, but it’s much more memorable to learn the story of one who found a new career pathway at a local tech company.

That’s why journalism still plays an important role in today’s data-powered world. Storytelling is what adds meaning and nuance to the stats.

For almost 15 years, has chased and challenged the idea that economic growth can coincide with more equitable outcomes. This belief continues to shape the work we do and projects we pursue.

Today we are launching Thriving, a yearlong reporting project focused on speaking to residents about the obstacles and opportunities to reach their economic goals. Over the next 12 months, we’ll collect the stories of hundreds of people whose lived experiences and circumstances are unique, yet relate to broad economic themes. The project is made possible because of funding from the William Penn Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

We’ll focus much of our reporting on Philadelphia, as a representative city, and include analysis from across all the cities reports on, in addition to other peer cities.

The project has several component parts:

  • Audio documentary — With the help of Rowhome Productions, founded by award-winning producer Alex Lewis and John Myers, we will follow 10 Philadelphians over the next year to produce an audio documentary exploring obstacles and opportunities to reach their goals.
  • Resident interviews — Between focus groups and individual interviews, we’ll speak and detail the experiences of hundreds of residents. Our approach is trauma-informed and community-based to ensure we’re partners with those we’re engaging.
  • Reporting series — How is it different to be a gig-working creative in Brooklyn than another city? What resources do immigrant entrepreneurs have in Miami compared to elsewhere? Each month, we’ll profile a different resident persona in Philadelphia and a peer city sharing how each is navigating during these times.
  • Partner collaboration — We’ll facilitate a monthly gathering of other civic stakeholders, leaders and collaborators in order to better understand each other’s work and find solutions across sectors and organizations.

To power this project, we identified 10 persona groups we’re prioritizing, including Black professionals, working mothers, gig-working creatives and immigrant entrepreneurs.

Who is involved? Well, I, for one, have joined the team to manage the project. I’ll be drawing on my experience as a freelance journalist for Generocity, awarded program manager at Mt. Airy CDC, and board member of T.U.F.F. Girls in addition to my extensive community organizing background. My goal is to ensure that this is a truly equitable, inclusive and collaborative effort.

I’ll be working closely with CEO Chris Wink, editors Julie Zeglen and Sameer Rao, and the entire newsroom. In addition to Rowhome Productions, we’ll enlist other partners and be working extensively with existing leaders in this work.

We’re fortunate to also work with the deep research work from our partners, including Pew’s Philadelphia Research and Policy Initiative. They help ensure our work has deep data-backing. That will ensure we can focus on speaking to the residents who don’t often get their voices heard.

You can join us on our journey by signing up for our Thriving newsletter below, reviewing ongoing coverage on our series page or following the Twitter.

Companies: Technically Media / Pew Charitable Trusts / William Penn Foundation /
Series: Thriving
People: Sameer Rao / Julie Zeglen / Christopher Wink

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