Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Poverty and Non-profit Organizations

 Introduction       History of Welfare Systems      History of Non-Profit Organizations    Poverty and Non-Profits      Funding Challenges of Non-Profits   The “Bigger Picture”   Interview with Jeff Conway-Carlisle United Way   Interview with Dale Cross-Employment Skills Center

The Borough of Carlisle in Cumberland County Pennsylvania was founded in 1751. It is a historically-preserved, small, college-town, with a population of approximately 17,970 residents. [1] According to City-Data:

Estimated median household income in 2005: $40,300 (it was $33,969 in 2000)

Carlisle $40,300
Pennsylvania: $44,537

In 2005, the median household income for the United States reached $46,326 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Though the median household income for Carlisle is below the nation’s, implying that poverty is a problem affecting the town, the statistics describing the actual residents living in poverty level from a previous year confirm this fact:

Residents with income below the poverty level in 1999:

This city: 14.0%
Whole state: 11.0%

Residents with income below 50% of the poverty level in 1999:

This city: 6.0%
Whole state: 5.1%

The October 2007 Distribution Statistics from Project S.H.A.R.E confrim that poverty is a problem. However, the statistics also indicate that non-profit organizations, such as Project S.H.A.R.E, are needed since a number of residents rely on such organizations for aid:


Total Individuals
Individuals over 60
Individuals living alone
CHILDREN (0-5yr: 219, 6-17yr: 389)
Families earning less than $12,000



 Though the statistics show that a significant portion of the Carlisle community is living in poverty, it is easy to overlook this issue if one is not personally affected by it. Because a part of the community does not need the services provided by the non-profit organizations, those people may not care about what the organizations do. They may not even know that they exist!  They are thus highly unlikely to partake in volunteer opportunities offered by these organizations that would enable them to interact with lower-class residents. Further, our ideas of poverty may be based on preconceptions that hinder us from realizing that, for example, “poor” does not necessarily mean “homeless.” Consequently, we become an even more divided community, and an ignorant community at that.

The non-profit organizations in Carlisle serve those that seek their aid, whether they are the poorest of the poor, or residents looking to enhance their quality of life. They would not exist or function if the community did not need them.

[1]“Carlisle, Pennsylvania,” City Data,

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