Philly Finance Fanatic
Eric Todd, FOX ’15, went to Temple for the opportunity to learn in a diverse, urban environment. Since then, he found home in North Philadelphia and became connected with the surrounding communities.
Finding his passion
When he was in high school, Todd decided that he wanted two things out of the next few years of his life: to go to a diverse, urban school that was connected to the neighborhoods around it, and after graduating, find a job that was as focused on serving urban communities as he was.
The only part that hasn’t worked out as envisioned for Todd? He found the job he desired a full year before he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Temple’s Fox School of Business.
Since his senior year at Temple, Todd has been serving as the finance manager at the Campaign for Working Families, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that helps low- to moderate-income people achieve financial stability and move up the economic ladder by providing free tax preparation and access to public benefits.
“We try to view every person coming in as a whole, not just as a tax return,” he said. “Our goal is that people that come to us one year not need to come to us the next year because they’ll learn how to do their taxes themselves or they’ll have enough money so they don’t need to worry about using our free services.”
Out and about
The job has rewards beyond those that come with fulfilling the organization’s mission of helping working families. Soon after taking over as finance manager, Todd had a chance to oversee the Campaign’s transition from having a fiscal sponsor to becoming its own 501c3—a significant responsibility for someone just out of college.
His position also creates opportunities for him to smash the stereotype of accountants as office-bound number crunchers on spreadsheets all day.
“I want to be able to get engaged with the actual programmatic work that we’re doing,” Todd said. “I need to be able to have hands-on, face-to-face experiences with citizens in the community.”
Putting down roots
That hunger to immerse himself in communities played a role in Todd’s long relationship with the North Philadelphia neighborhood known as RAH, or Ridge-Allegheny-Hunting Park, about three miles northeast of Temple’s Main Campus. Todd’s ties to the locale formed as a first-year student when he volunteered at the St. James School, a tuition-free Episcopal middle school in the heart of RAH.
A decade later, he’s still volunteering part-time at the school, and his relationship with the neighborhood has deepened. Todd bought a home in RAH and soon after he started working with the RAH Civic Association.
“At Temple, you’re really immersed in the community; you’re not secluded,” said Todd. It’s a philosophy of working and living that he, like many young Temple alumni, has absorbed fully.
—By Hillel Hoffmann and Kierstyn Smith