Urban Missions and Service Experiences for Youth, Adult, and Family Groups

Cities » Philadelphia


Facts and Figures

The fifth largest city in the U.S., Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love, the birthplace of cheese steaks, the home of liberty, and the land of Rocky.

William Penn founded Philadelphia in the late 1600’s and called it his “religious experiment” because of his desire to see it as a city where people of all religions could live.

Philadelphia is also known as the “city of firsts” because so many of the country’s firsts happened here.

According to the 2010 census, 1.5 million people live inside the city limits with another 3.6 million living in the greater metro area. The population is 42.2% African-American, 36.9% white, 6.3% Asian, 12.3% Hispanic and about 2.1% other races.

The city covers 135 square miles.

Did You Know That…

Fairmount Park is the world’s largest landscaped urban park with over 8,900 acres and has the oldest US zoo.

Edgar Allen Poe wrote A Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has more outdoor artwork and sculptures than any other city in the world.

1 out of every 6 doctors in the U.S. graduated from a Philadelphia medical school or teaching hospital.

Elfreth’s Street in Olde City is the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the U.S.

The nation’s first public school was established in Philadelphia in 1689, the first public library in 1731, the first volunteer fire company in 1736, the first fire insurance company in 1752 and America’s first hospital in 1755.

People, Problems, Issues

It is estimated that almost 40% of the people living in the city have some type of drug addiction problem. In several neighborhoods the percentage of people living in poverty is over 40% and 38% of children live at or below the poverty line. Philadelphia is one of the most segregated cities in the country.

There are over 7,000 homeless people in Philadelphia. Many of them live on the street or in abandoned buildings. The city ranks number 97 (among the largest 100 cities) in share of adults participating in the labor force (only 55.9%) Similar to many large cities, about 1 in 5 children live in a household with no working parents.

The public education system in Philadelphia is one of the worst in the country. There is a drop out rate of almost 50%. The student to teacher ratio is 30 to 1 and the textbook ratio is 4 to 1. The average SAT score is 800. 72% of the city’s children live in a home where no father is present. Out of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Philadelphia ranks as 92 in the share of adults with bachelor’s degrees (17.9%).

There are over 2,000 churches (listed in yellow pages).

Insights on the City

by Justin Perry (former City Director)

Downtown PhillyThroughout Philadelphia’s history the themes of freedom, justice, liberty, unity and equality for all reverberate. However, for many of the city’s current residents these ideals are beyond their experience. Instead, drugs, poor educational and job opportunities is the norm. In the midst of despair there is a hint of hope. The hope can be seen in a sandwich, a helping hand, and even a prayer. God is at work in the city of Philadelphia through many ministries. He is working through his people to achieve renewal.

CSM Ministry Site Sampler

MANNA (Metropolitan AIDS Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) is a non-profit organization that delivers nourishment to people living with HIV/AIDS. Volunteers and staff work together to provide three nutritious meals a day, free of charge, Monday through Saturday. Manna serves over 2,000 meals a day.

Philabundance Food Bank works to end hunger and malnutrition in the Delaware Valley by providing agencies with inexpensive food products. These agencies are then able to provide people in need with nutritious food that they would not be able to afford otherwise. Our groups assist the Food Bank with this process by sorting and organizing all of the food donations.

Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission provides chapel services, meals, short-term emergency sleeping, men’s recovery/discipleship program, and a thrift store. Sunday Breakfast is 126 years old, the second oldest rescue mission in the nation. The mission started by serving meals on Sunday and now they do three meals a day. They provide food for the body and the soul with a noon and evening chapel. Our groups help prepare lunch and attend the chapel service.

Hands of Hope is an outreach ministry to homeless. The goal is to scripturally meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of hurting people in a practical way. Hands of Hope meets the homeless where they are and in whatever condition they may be. Our groups get to hand out lunches, talk to, and pray with people on the streets.

map San Francisco Bay Area Los Angeles Denver Houston Nashville Chicago Washington DC Detroit Philadelphia New York City Boston

The only way we can continue to link participant groups to urban service opportunities is through the prayers and financial support of people like you.

Donate Now

CLA member logo CCDA logo ECFA logo

© 2013 Center for Student Missions 1755 N 13th St Box #211 Philadelphia, PA 19122 267-928-2620 info@csm.org