A Common Thread: Coalition Building through Advocacy Planning

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


With more than 25% of its population living in poverty, hunger is no stranger to the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since the early 1980’s, the city has seen a persistent increase in the number of families who are not able to attain economic self-sufficiency. As a result, more than 151,000 households are at risk for hunger every day. In an effort to alleviate food insecurity in the region, a loose coalition of anti-hunger advocates created the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger in 1996. While the organization has met with much success for over a decade, it is now at a crossroads. A quickly transforming operating environment, a recent change in leadership, a complicated organizational structure, and disengagement among its partner organizations has led GPCAH to reevaluate its position in the Philadelphia food landscape. The following study provides an analysis of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger as a coalition. It examines the issue of hunger in Philadelphia and explains why coalitions are uniquely qualified to provide structural solutions through advocacy initiatives. The study draws upon first hand experience, informal conversation, and primary documents to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and filters them through organizational best practices identified by coalition building experts. An advocacy plan developed as a tool to engage Coalition partners in meaningful collaborative work is presented. That plan’s potential and limitations as a tool for coalition building is evaluated, and lessons learned from the development process are highlighted.


Economics | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences

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