Why Pew Just Committed Over $4.2 Million to Elder Care in Philly

The Pew Charitable Trust’s Philadelphia giving has recently centered on economic growth, public safety, and arts & culture. So why did the Trust just commit $4,285,000 to 27 organizations in the Philadelphia area that specialize in elder care?

Well, Pew does have a health and human services local giving initiative that encompasses programs for children, youth, at-risk adults, and the elderly. Unlike many of Pew’s grantmaking programs, support is limited to nonprofits located in and providing services in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. This particular grantmaking fund has been around since 1991 and also addresses local issues of homelessness and mental health.

But what seems to be driving huge grant commitments like this one is the aging population demographic of American cities. According to the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, there are approximately 273,000 Philadelphia residents aged 60 years and older, representing 18 percent of the total city population. Within that percentage, 32 percent are at least 75 years old, and 11 percent are age 85 and older. These seniors don't just struggle with issues like arthritis and dentures. Seniors in Philadelphia experience poverty at about twice the rate of seniors living in other parts of Pennsylvania.

“Low-income and frail elderly are among the most vulnerable members of our community,” Frazierita Klasen, senior director of Pew’s Philadelphia program, explained in a press release. These are some of the issues that Pew is thinking about when it comes to elders: 

  • Financial stability
  • Elder depression and isolation
  • Self-care and household chores
  • Support for family member caregivers 

With this massive new commitment, Pew hopes to reach about 26,000 seniors for basic needs, 1,200 who are socially isolated or depressed, and offer care and chore services to about 2,600. Meanwhile, about 600 informal caregivers, mostly family members, will receive support through the Pew-funded organizations. These are a few of the recent Pew elder care grants, which are all for a three-year period. 

  • $242,000 to Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia
  • $225,000 to the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly
  • $198,000 to Penn Asian Senior Services
  • $121,000 to Supportive Older Women’s Network

The need for elder care philanthropy is growing by the year, and hopefully more funders will tap into these locally based needs in upcoming grant cycles. More than half of Philadelphia’s over-65 population are minority and/or foreign-born, and that’s where some of Pew’s largest support is flowing.

To learn more about Pew’s health & human services grantmaking in Philadelphia, check out the Philadelphia Pew Fund page. The next category up for support is children, youth, and families (expect an LOI announcement summer 2015) and vulnerable adults (LOI announcement summer 2016).