Philadelphia Forward is a citizens' organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement to make Philadelphia a vibrant city that is a preferred place to live, work, and visit. Philadelphia Forward was originally established in 2004 as a project of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. Its original mission was to build awareness of issues relating to taxation in Philadelphia. The organization’s first efforts were geared toward educating the citizenry about the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission’s recommendations. Since then, Philadelphia Forward has broadened its mission to embrace issues of ethics, governmental integrity, and budgeting, in order to raise the level of public debate surrounding the way we set our public priorities.
Tax Reform — Expand awareness of the Tax Reform Commission blueprint to make city taxes more fair and less burdensome so that the city will retain and attract jobs and residents.
Ethics Reform — Educate about ways to reduce the corrosive role of money in Philadelphia’s political process and eliminate the “pay-to-play” culture that wastes money and erodes public confidence in city government.
Budget Reform — Inform the public about the governmental budget process and how the city generates its revenue and sets its spending priorities. Raise the level of public debate to help determine how we (the citizens) set our public priorities. Make the link between setting and funding priorities.
Citizen/City Hall Compact — Create a citizen’s issues platform of preferred policy directions to increase the likelihood that policies endorsed by the citizenry define the course of action we take as a city.
Tax Reform — Awareness campaign led to passage of legislation to dramatically reduce the City Wage Tax to less than 4.0 percent for residents in 2008 and even lower into the future, eliminate the Gross Receipts Portion of the job-killing Business Privilege Tax by 2022, and enact the first-ever cuts to the Business Privilege Tax Net Income Portion, taking the tax down in increments to 6% in 2022. Our educational-outreach and legal efforts compelled the city to begin an overhaul of its system of real estate valuation to make real estate taxation fair and understandable.
Ethics Reform — Engagement led to record support and record participation for a ballot initiative to prohibit major campaign contributors from receiving “no bid” contracts from City Hall. Subsequent Charter change established an independent Board of Ethics to help maintain integrity in city government.
Budget Reform — A BUDGETWATCH opinion placed pressure on the Mayor to reconsider and reverse his decision to reduce the number of city police officers when State Police commenced patrols of I-95 and I-76.
R.E.F.O.R.M. Agenda — Combining the power of Wikipedia with growth in the constituency for change, this experiment in deliberative democracy gave citizens the opportunity to edit and vote on a reform agenda for Philadelphia.
A Constituency For Change — Raised more than $1,000,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions from more than 800 donors and built an email network of more than 25,000 recipients.
Philadelphia Forward Thinker Award — Established recognition for reformers old and new to highlight the achievements of those who have bucked the system and won and to encourage citizen activists of all kinds to consider that change is possible.
Awards And Recognition — Winner of numerous national and local awards, including the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet’s 2005 Golden Dot Award as the nation’s best local internet campaign; a “Pollie” Award from American Association of Political Consultants for “Pushbutton Activism: Tax Reform in Philadelphia;” and a Pepperpot Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Board Of Directors
William R. Miller, IV*