PHILADELPHIANS have strong opinions about the issues facing Philadelphia as well as poverty's causes and solutions.

With support from Temple University's Center for Public Interest Journalism, we commissioned a citywide survey from the Insight and Survey Center, a survey-research unit associated with the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Nearly 350 randomly selected people from across the city were phoned. The results of this survey demonstrate that an economically, racially and educationally diverse cross-section of Philadelphians see poverty as one of the most important issues that the city must address to move forward. More than 70 percent of respondents rated the related issues of crime, poverty and the public schools as "very important" for Philadelphia.

The surveyed Philadelphians see the role of government and society as key causes of and solutions for poverty. More than 50 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that a lack of well-paying jobs and a failure of society to provide quality schools are the most important causes of poverty. Nearly 70 percent strongly agreed that a solution to poverty is increasing the minimum wage, while nearly 60 percent strongly agreed that a solution is to increase the number of government-sponsored job-training programs.

Philadelphians don't just have opinions about poverty; they talk about the issue. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported discussing poverty issues with someone in the past two months.