New group, Philadelphia Community of Leaders, aims to reduce poverty in the black community

A coalition of about 20 African American community activists announced plans Friday to develop an agenda for reducing poverty in Philadelphia's black community.

Known collectively as the Philadelphia Community of Leaders, the group said during a news conference at Laborers District Council headquarters that it planned to address the difficult issue of poverty by focusing on improving education and economic development and reducing violence.

The nonprofit group, which includes developers Kenny Gamble and Rahim Islam, lawyer George Burrell, antiviolence activist Bilal Qayyum, and former School Reform Commission Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn, also announced it would host its first community conference at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Universal Audenried High School, 3301 Tasker St.

The event, which is open to the public, will allow members to present their issues and goals and engage members of the community, Islam said.

The organization notably does not include elected officials. Islam said the grassroots organization needs to be able to present its agenda to political leaders.

Islam said the group is "not reacting to anything. We're being proactive."

The group held its first community meeting in January, to build an infrastructure for the organization and discuss issues affecting black people in Philadelphia.

Dungee Glenn said Friday that education is a key element to battling poverty.

"Whether we're talking about traditional public schools or charter schools, every child must be guaranteed access to an education that is going to properly prepare him or her for the 21st century," she said.