PLATINUM2022

PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP

Standing Up To Powerful Interests

aka PennPIRG   |   Philadelphia, PA   |  www.pennpirg.org

Mission

PennPIRG is a Pennsylvania-based non-profit and non-partisan organization that advocates for the public interest. We speak out for a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good. The problems we address aren’t progressive or conservative — they’re just problems that no one should tolerate in an age of great abundance and technological progress. That’s why we're working to find common ground around commonsense ideas and deliver real change.

Ruling year info

2000

Advocate

Emma Horst-Martz

Co Principal Officer

David Masur

Main address

1727 Snyder Ave

Philadelphia, PA 19145 USA

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EIN

23-2448881

NTEE code info

Consumer Protection and Safety (W90)

Citizen Participation (W24)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Get the Lead Out

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause lifelong health problems and is particularly dangerous for kids. So PennPIRG is working to protect children in the Keystone State from the threat of lead in one of the places where they spend most of their waking hours--in school buildings. In 2022, we helped run a successful campaign in Philadelphia to convince city and school district leaders to implement one of the nation’s strongest policies to protect kids from lead in school drinking water. This effort played a crucial role in helping Philadelphia City Council draft and pass legislation to codify this new policy into law. PennPIRG is expanding this work across Pennsylvania to ensure that children are not exposed to lead in their homes, schools, or daycare centers.

Population(s) Served

The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest public health crisis of the last century, leading to over 1 million deaths in the U.S. to date. The pandemic has also revealed and exacerbated countless threats in the marketplace that face consumers. To help address these issues, PennPIRG assembled a COVID-19 response team of policy experts, state advocates, organizers and researchers. We created educational guides for consumers to protect themselves from marketplace threats, such as illegal price gouging when online companies attempted to rip-off consumers with high-priced and faulty PPE like facemasks and hand sanitizers. We educated the public about fraudulent stimulus checks and refunds on travel and other ticket purchases. PennPIRG also advocated for PPE distribution and testing, called attention to staffing shortages in nursing homes, developed suggested guidelines for reopening states safely, and now we are working with rural and conservative communities to improve vaccination rates.

Population(s) Served

The overuse of antibiotics in our food system and pesticides on our land are known to have numerous effects on our health like creating superbugs that are antibiotic resistant, cancer from toxic chemicals in herbicides sprayed on our parks and yards, and long term health problems from toxic chemicals in our personal care products like shampoos and soaps. PennPIRG is working to get the largest fast food companies to stop buying meat that has been raised on routine antibiotics, to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides and herbicides on farms and public lands, and to run campaigns to protect consumers by removing toxic chemicals from personal care products.

Population(s) Served

PennPIRG has been advocating on behalf of consumers for more than 25 years, and we are constantly adapting to new challenges facing Pennsylvanians in the marketplace. Our priority consumer watchdog projects include helping Pennsylvanians avoid dangerous products in the marketplace, identifying and addressing financial scams and rip-offs, and tackling identity theft issues and protecting consumers' private information. We have also developed tip sheets to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft, file consumer complaints, and identify predatory lenders. Our annual report on toy safety, Trouble in Toyland, exposes dangerous and toxic toys for sale, and has led to over 150 product recalls and other regulatory actions. We advocate for companies to improve their products and practices, and work with elected officials and government agencies to hold companies accountable when they fail to protect consumers.

Population(s) Served

Every day, Pennsylvanians throw away millions of disposable products like single-use plastic items. PennPIRG is working to ban single use plastics and hold plastic producers responsible for the pollution created from their packaging and products. In addition to these single-use items, more and more consumer products are not made to last anymore, driving constant upgrades and waste. PennPIRG aims to move society towards a circular economy in which people buy what they need, repair it when it breaks, and then continue using it until it’s disposed of and made into something else. Our “Right to Repair” campaign is working to ensure that people can access the tools, information, and parts that they need to repair their own electronic devices so that they can continue using them and reduce electronic waste. We have educated elected officials across Pennsylvania about this issue and helped them introduce legislation to expand access to repair options.

Population(s) Served

Millions of bees are dying off, with alarming consequences for our food supply. Scientists point to pesticides as one of the factors causing the die-off, in particular a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics). PennPIRG is working to educate the public, convince the nation’s largest retailers such as Amazon to stop selling neonics, and promote neonic bans at the federal, state and local level.

Population(s) Served

After a century of car-centric culture, we now have new transportation needs—such as increased investment in public transit, zero-emissions buses and cars, and better infrastructure for biking and walking. Through well-researched reports, public outreach and work with local coalitions and public officials, PennPIRG has helped turn the tide against wasteful highway expansion boondoggles and demonstrated the enormous climate and health benefits of reducing driving, expanding public transportation and walking and biking paths, and electrifying our vehicles.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of stakeholders or stakeholder groups who agree to engage

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

This is an estimate of the number of partner groups we engage in our campaigns each year.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

PennPIRG is working towards an economy that first and foremost values the quality of people's lives. We are working toward a system in which we can eat food and use the products we need without risking our health, and Pennsylvanians can hold big businesses accountable when they break our consumer laws or attempt to hoodwink consumers in the marketplace. We are working toward a transportation system with more and better options, safeguarding our environment, and creating a system that works for everyone. And at the end of the day, we are working to win concrete results on real problems that affect millions of lives.

With public debate around important issues often dominated by special interests pursuing their own narrow agendas, PennPIRG offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, engage in litigation and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. Specific strategies include:
1. Educating and mobilizing the public: We know that when the public has the facts about the threats facing our safety and health, they'll demand solutions. Moreover, we know that an educated and informed public quickly turns into a citizenry that's invested in solving these problems. And once the public is informed and invested, PennPIRG can springboard that support into deeper levels of civic engagement that will lead to solutions being implemented by decision makers and others.
2. Building new coalitions to protect the public interest: PennPIRG works with a wide variety of partner organizations and individuals to help protect consumers and public health in Pennsylvania. We bring together consumer organizations, public health professionals, environmental groups, healthcare organizations, farmers, energy experts, and school district staff and community organizations. PennPIRG knows how to build powerful partnerships and is a trusted coalition partner with non-traditional partners.
3. Increasing media attention on our issues: PennPIRG regularly garners news stories in traditional and digital media outlets across Pennsylvania and the nation. This is critical in our effort to inform hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians and educate local leaders who look to their local news outlets for the issues resonating with their constituents. A more informed public will lead to a more engaged public.
4. Delivering public support to elected officials to make policy change: PennPIRG works to educate and engage elected officials on the public health and consumer issues facing Pennsylvanians. We deliver the support from our members, coalition partners, and the public at large to convince legislators to introduce and pass policies that will improve Pennsylanians’ lives. We work with City Councilmembers, state legislators and Congressional leaders to implement solutions at all levels of government.

PennPIRG’s in-state staff is supported by more than 20 national program staff across the PIRG Network who work with researchers to uncover the facts, then bring our findings to the media, public, and decision makers. In addition to senior staff with decades of experience, we hire and train entry-level organizers to be tomorrow's social change leaders.

We also work closely with our 27 state affiliates across the country. By collaborating with advocates at the state level, we can hear about the strategies that are working and the messages are resonating with the public. It also helps guide and amplify our work nationally.

As a grassroots organization, PennPIRG is powered by our network of small donor citizen members across Pennsylvania. These members engage with our social media content, email alerts, and digital and in-person events that PennPIRG uses to educate the public and activate those who want to make change.

PennPIRG and our network have won numerous victories for the public. Recent highlights include:

- PennPIRG helped to lead and win a campaign to get the lead out of Philadelphia schools’ drinking water, helping to draft and pass legislation to protect students from the threat of toxic lead contamination. This proposal is one of the strongest protections from lead in school drinking water in the nation.

- PennPIRG has built a strong coalition of farmers, hospitals and independent repair shops calling on original equipment manufacturers to sell the parts, tools and information manuals needed for consumers and businesses to fix their own devices. We have educated thousands of Pennsylvanians with our reports such as Why Farmers Need Right to Repair, Warranties in the Void and What Are Pennsylvanians Fixing?. We have educated elected officials and recruited bill sponsors to introduce legislation such as SB998 to expand access to repair.

- When the COVID-19 pandemic began, PennPIRG sprung into action with our national network to protect consumers from arising threats, advocate for better resource distribution and promote health-centered protocols. We educated Pennsylvanians with our tip guides, such as How to Spot a Scam During Covid. We worked with our partners across the country to organize 33 Attorneys General led by Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro to crack down on price gouging. Our coalition of state groups also convinced ventilator manufacturers to provide repair manuals to hospitals so they could put more machines into circulation to save COVID patients.

- PennPIRG has helped convince major restaurant chains like McDonald's, KFC, and Subway, to stop purchasing meat products raised with antibiotics.

- In the past 25 years, we have contributed to more than 150 unsafe toy recalls and other enforcement actions on dangerous toys and children’s products. This is a result of our annual Trouble in Toyland Toy Safety report, a survey of toys on the market each year used to warn parents about potential dangers.

- Every year we publish tip guides to help Pennsylvanians navigate consumer challenges and opportunities, such as freezing your credit, protecting yourself from surprise medical bills, and protecting your privacy on your phone.

- We worked with our partner groups across the country to convince multiple major manufacturers, including Unilever USA and Procter & Gamble, to increase their transparency about ingredients in personal care products.

- We regularly publish our Highway Boondoggles report, highlighting proposed highway projects that double down on the failed transportation strategies of the past while causing harm to local communities and using up scarce transportation dollars.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP

Board of directors
as of 07/19/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Beth McConnell

City of Philadelphia

Paul Copleman

Avangrid Renewables

Vicky Kresge

The Wharton School

Levana Layendecker

PA Budget and Policy Center

Adam Garber

Ceasefire PA

Beth McConnell

City of Philadelphia

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/19/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability