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Local leaders and Axios' Nick Johnston at the Hometown Tour. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

On Tuesday, Axios editor in chief Nick Johnston continued the Hometown Tour with an Expert Voices Live discussion in Philadelphia, digging into the state of education and skills training across the city.

Why it matters: 24 leaders from Philly's top schools, universities, non-profits and businesses discussed how to best educate and prepare their city for the future of work.

Skills Training

Johnston opened the conversation, asking our table of thought leaders how they're preparing Philadelphians for jobs of the future.

Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network, shares her perspective. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios
  • Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network, highlighted the importance of funding summer employment programs for young people: "Summer employment gives them productive ways to use what they're learning in school and introduces them to adults in different circumstances and exposure to different career paths."
  • Marisa Porges, Head of School at the Baldwin School, discussed the work her school is doing to prepare students for the future of work: "We work to give students basic skills of reading and writing and literacy, overlay it with new technology, but also the real world overlay of what comes next."

Others spoke to the pressing need of cultivating both work and skilled workers within the city.

  • Patrick Clancy, President and CEO of Philadelphia Works, the city's workforce development board, stressed the need for career ladders and apprenticeship programs: "It's not just getting individuals back to work, but on a career pathway."
  • Jeff Hornstein, Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, touched on the demand side of the workforce: "All the anchor institutions in the city are working with us to develop a localization strategy" to ensure jobs stay in Philadelphia.
Education Funding

The need for education funding, at both the state and federal level, was reiterated throughout the morning's conversation.

  • Numa St. Louis, District Representative for Congressman Dwight Evans, mentioned how Rep. Evans fought to be a part of the House Ways and Means Committee and introduced the 2017 School Rehabilitation Bill as a vehicle to secure more funding for Philadelphia.
  • Andrea Custis, CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, spoke to the racial and geographical elements of education funding, arguing that "zip code absolutely determines the quality of your education."
Abby Thaker, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Free Library of Philadelphia, talks about the Read by 4th Campaign. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios
Early-childhood Education

As the conversation evolved, participants homed in on the critical role early-childhood education plays in the broader education system.

  • AJ Jordan, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo, spoke about his work with the Read by 4th Campaign: "We ensure that all kids in all neighborhoods in all schools can read by the fourth grade."
  • Abby Thaker, a director at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which started the Read by 4th Campaign, piggybacked on Jordan to stress the importance of parent buy-in and providing those parents with adequate resources.
Collaboration

Roundtable members called for collaboration multiple times throughout the conversation — both within and across sectors — to counteract the intense competition limited funding creates among education leaders.

  • Nancy Peter, Director of the McKinney Center for STEM Education, emphasized the need for incentives that cultivate collaboration, rather than competition.
  • Chris Lehmann, Founding Principal at the Science Leadership Academy, mentioned one solution — the Philadelphia Learning Collaborative — which brings schools together to discuss new and progressive forms of education.
F. Joseph Merlino, President of the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education, shares his thoughts about Philly's school district. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios
"Everything that everybody is doing here is part of a larger ecosystem. There doesn't need to be conflict. It needs to be that we are moving all in the same direction to try and solve problems for students."
— Farah Jimenez, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund

Thank you to everyone who joined us, and thank you Wells Fargo for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.