Statement of Purpose
Building One Pennsylvania is an emerging statewide organization of community leaders from diverse sectors – including municipal, school, faith, business, labor and civic – who are joining together to stabilize and revitalize their communities, reinvigorate local economies, and promote regional opportunity and sustainability.
B1PA was launched in 2010 as a project of two organizations – Good Schools Pennsylvania and the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project, to address the inequities caused and intensified by regional divisions that lead to structurally diminishing tax bases and declining schools, neighborhoods and municipal services. The two organizations had worked collaboratively on school finance reform, winning a legislative victory in 2008 that increased state funding to diverse, fiscally challenged school districts. In July 2012, Building One Pennsylvania became its own non-partisan, non-profit organization. Building One Pennsylvania works in partnership with Building One America.
- Convened a summit in 2010 that brought together more than 600 leaders representing diverse constituencies from across the state to consider a more comprehensive, transformative approach to the interrelated problems of structurally diminishing tax bases, increasing property taxes, declining schools and municipal services, and deteriorating infrastructure.
- Conducted a “Listening Campaign” in 2011 to help develop, refine and prioritize Building One Pennsylvania’s agenda. The listening campaign culminated in August 2011 with a series of Issues Conventions held around the state to ratify Building One Pennsylvania’s issues agenda.
- Worked with our national partner, Building One America, to convene a forum at the White House in July 2011 that gave further visibility to the strengths, assets, challenges and policy implications for America’s increasingly diverse yet fiscally strained older communities. The forum launched organizing initiatives in several other states.
- Introduced Building One Pennsylvania’s issues agenda at a statewide public meeting in Lancaster in October 2011 at which nearly 800 people turned out to demand attention to the structural challenges confronting our older boroughs, towns and cities. In the process, we secured several important commitments, including a commitment from U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to work directly with Building One Pennsylvania and our regional and national partners to “end the tyranny of the zip code.”
- Engaged with our Congressional delegation on federal transportation reauthorization, including convening a meeting with members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and their staff. In attendance were top staff members for Representatives Meehan, Fitzpatrick, and Gerlach. Congressman Lou Barletta was in attendance himself. Also helping to organize the meeting were two former Congressmen, Democrat Joe Hoeffel of Pennsylvania, and Republican Jim Saxton of New Jersey, who chaired the meeting. Throughout the spring of 2012, we continued to meet with members of Congress and their staff about infrastructure and transportation investments and the importance of securing a bipartisan agreement and even compromise, with the result that in July a two-year transportation bill was passed.
- Hosted a White House Round Table meeting in August 2012 in Valley Forge with the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, David Agnew. The meeting, which was attended by 60 local leaders representing 35 towns, highlighted the challenges of diverse, middle class suburbs – particularly how EPA demands on our aging storm-water and sewer systems have put tremendous fiscal pressure on our communities that get passed on to homeowners and businesses in the form of increased property taxes and utility rates. Mr. Agnew pledged to broker meetings with EPA Secretary Lisa Jackson and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
- In follow up to the October 2011 Public Meeting in Lancaster, Building One Pennsylvania and the First Suburbs Project continue to work with HUD to develop a housing mobility program that will serve as a model for addressing poverty concentration and opportunity. The program will reform federal housing programs that continue to over-steer low-income housing and residents into middle class suburban communities that are already diverse, increasingly fiscally challenged, and declining in opportunity. The program will instead open up housing opportunity in job-rich areas that also enjoy strong public schools.
- A Public Meeting will take place on Saturday, October 13, 10 am – 11:30 in Phoenixville to further advance our issues agenda.
- A fundraising event will be held Thursday, November 29, 6 – 8 pm to celebrate our leaders and honor policy-makers who have helped advance our agenda, including Senator Casey and Congressman Meehan.