Called to Serve (CTS) is an emerging socioeconomic community development corporation (CDC) dedicated to the complete renewal, restoration and revitalization of underserved neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
With a primary focus on the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood of North Philadelphia, we envision a wholesome Philadelphia urban ecosystem with intact neighborhoods, thriving businesses with access to capital, and reformed schools that produce academically competent students.
Called To Serve CDC is a faith-based organization that believes that every human being is made in the image of God. Therefore, people have been given, by God, the right to earn a living, obtain an education, grow a family, and flourish economically, socially, spiritually, and psychologically. Thus we serve the “Whole Person” and we pray and create innovative and outside the box methods to achieve these goals within a system that inherently marginalizes and oppresses the people and communities that we serve. This is a “spiritual warfare” that we fight, and we stand on the shoulders of Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, who was a beacon of light in civil rights, economic development, education, and the liberation of the former ancestors of slaves in America, and their African ancestors who still face oppression through imperialism, apartheid, and marginalization. CTS stands on the shoulders of Pastor Sullivan, and we look to continue in his legacy, and prepare young people in our community to take the “baton” and continue this work into the next generations.
Therefore, CTS, in a partnership with the Black Contractors Coalition Association, held our second “Black & Brown Economic Construction Production event” on March 15, 2023. We purpose to build, maintain, and sustain an ecosystem of contractors, developers, entrepreneurs, government agencies, private foundations and industries, community organizations, and anchor institutions that will serve as an ”Economic Incubator” to take two groups: Firstly, local handyman and handywomen that are skilled at their trade but are not officially licensed, insured and bonded, financed, and have the back office support to build a successful contracting business. Secondly, we seek to serve established contractors who are unable to scale up their businesses. We include these groups in an ecosystem that provides support in every aspect for the growth and health of a successful construction business, which includes property management and building maintenance. We believe to increase black and brown hiring in construction projects that the intentional support of black and brown contractors will enable them to hire more people from our communities, and therefore lift up the economic, social, and political lives of the communities we serve.
We had 117 people registered for the event. Our mission and vision and goals were made clear when Rodney Davis, The Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Officer for Turner Construction, shared the following numbers:
In 2021 there was $26B of construction work completed in the City of Philadelphia. Of that $26B, Black & Brown Construction Contractors and Workers received 3.7%, which is about $962M. Not even $1B from $26B, in a city that has over 50% representation from Black & Brown communities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Acts describes this as a “Manifest Imbalance”, and it is this number (3.7%) that the Black & Brown Economic Construction Ecosystem seeks to address by correcting this manifest imbalance.
Our goal is to create a sustainable construction economic community that can see Black & Brown Contractors and workers see their share of the total financial resources in the City of Philadelphia increase to 10% by March 2025, and then to see the manifest imbalance corrected by 2030.
Below are some pictures from our March 15, 2023 event, which was held at Zion Baptist Church.
This past week, Called to Serve’s Executive Director, Jeffrey Harley, spoke to students at Bethune Elementary School.
Reading Across America is an annual event celebrated on March 2nd, which is also Dr. Seuss's birthday. This event is organized by the National Education Association (NEA) and is aimed at encouraging children and adults to read more. The event started in 1998 and has since become a nationwide event that celebrates the joy of reading.
The goal of Reading Across America is to promote literacy and reading as a fun and enjoyable activity. The event also highlights the importance of reading in education and in everyday life.
Working with Bethune Elementary School, CTS can continue to instill shared beliefs and initiatives with our local community. These include:
Promoting literacy: One of the primary goals of Reading Across America is to promote literacy, particularly among children. By promoting reading and literacy, Reading Across America helps to level the playing field and give children in these communities a chance to improve their skills and succeed in school.
Increasing access to books: Access to books is critical for improving literacy skills. Unfortunately, many communities like ours lack access to quality books and libraries. Reading Across America helps to increase access to books by encouraging schools and libraries to hold book drives and provide free books to children. This can make a significant difference in the lives of children who might not otherwise have access to quality books.
Promoting diversity and representation: Reading Across America emphasizes the importance of diversity and representation in literature. By promoting books written by and about people of color, Reading Across America helps to ensure that children in these communities can see themselves and their experiences reflected in the books they read.
Encouraging parental involvement: Parental involvement in education is critical for student success. Reading Across America encourages parents to read with their children and make reading a part of their daily routine. This can help to improve literacy skills and foster a love of reading that can last a lifetime.
Reading Across America has the potential to make a significant impact on our community by promoting literacy, increasing access to books, promoting diversity and representation, and encouraging parental involvement in education. By continuing to support this initiative and promoting literacy and reading, we can help to create a brighter future for all children, regardless of their background or circumstances.