May 2017

Faith & Action Project e-news

May 2017

Ambitious Visions for Impact


Fact of the Month

IIndiana ranked 30th out of the 50 states in terms of the percentage of working-age women living below the poverty line (16%) in 2015.

(US Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2015)

We know that no matter how brilliant the grant proposals we receive might be, we are not going to look back a couple of years from now and say, “Well, we took care of poverty. What’s next?”

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an ambitious vision. That doesn’t mean we don’t hope to look back a few years from now and say, “Yes. That’s where the improvements we see today got their start.” That’s why we have put such an emphasis on ideas that go beyond relief work to create real collective upward mobility. That’s why we have pushed for tangible, measurable progress rather than Band-Aid tactics. That’s why we have pushed so hard for the multiplying effects of collaboration.

And that’s why we’re pledging to do our part. Even as we have passed this major milestone of receiving Letters of Intent and program summaries for Faith & Action Grants, we will continue to promote the conversation. We will continue to offer resources, and to facilitate connections that drive impact. We will continue to draw together diverse groups and individuals who otherwise might not have the opportunity to meet.

And, finally, we will continue to drive ambition. Because, through the community’s willingness to embrace the Faith & Action Project, we have been reminded of one simple truth: There can be no greater ambition than to improve the lives of others.

Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project

Grant Finalists Named

As of the May 1 deadline, we received 54 Letters of Intent from organizations interested in applying for Faith & Action grants. We appreciate all of the organizations that submitted letters, and are inspired by the many ideas and obvious passion for improving the lives of our community’s poorest citizens.

After careful consideration, we have contacted all applicants and let them know that we have selected 14 proposals as finalists and asked those organizations to submit complete applications by June 30. Those applications will be reviewed in July and August, and grant recipients will be notified in September. We will publicly announce grant recipients at the Faith & Action fall event. To see a list of finalists, click here.

American Dream, RIP?

Accepting that “The American Dream” can have many definitions, for our purposes we’ll consider this one: The American Dream is the hope that our children will be better off than we are.

For decades, that definition proved true. In fact, according to a recent “Freakonomics” podcast, in 1970, 92% of American 30-year-olds were earning more than their parents had earned at 30. The challenge we face: Today that percentage has dropped to 50%.

For many people, that might not seem so bad; however, for people born into poverty, that’s a disheartening realization. And poor people living in Indianapolis have the odds especially stacked against them. According to a 2015 New York Times story, if you are born poor in Marion County, you’re more likely to stay that way than if you were born in just about any other larger American city.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In the Freakonomics podcast, Raj Chetty, a Stanford University economics professor and founder of the Equality of Opportunity Project, says he has identified five factors that contribute to the problem and that, if addressed, could turn the tide. Those factors? Residential segregation, income inequality, family structure, social capital and school quality. Click here to read a transcript of the podcast or to listen to it.

He’s Been There

In May of 2015, when Rochester and Monroe County in New York appointed Leonard Brock as director of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, it appointed a man who not only has a PhD and experience working with area nonprofits, but also someone who could personally relate to a life of poverty.

Brock grew up in an area described as “Rochester’s crescent of poverty” and actually strayed into crime and fathered a child at age 19 before getting his life on its current course.

Now he is working to help others rise up out of poverty. And he has a clear sense of the forces opposing people in those efforts. In a recent op-ed in the Minority Reporter, Brock described three key areas of focus for his efforts: building neighborhoods, addressing structural racism and its impact, and addressing the effects of trauma.

He also has a clear vision of what individuals need to follow in his footsteps. “A lot of people would change if they know how to,” Brock said in a Rochester Democrat & Chronicle story about his rise from poverty. “A lot of it is educating them and giving them the tools they need.”

Worth Reading

The unflinching portrayal of growing up in poverty presented by J.D. Vance in his book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is both informative and moving. While the book focuses on a young, white, self-proclaimed hillbilly growing up in Ohio, its illustration of how poverty adheres to a family through generations, offers insights that reach beyond race and geography.

Upcoming Mark your calendar for these important dates.
June 30 Grant applications due
Early Sept. Grant recipients notified


Grant recipients announced


Fall event
Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary 1000 W. 42nd Street | Indianapolis, IN 46208
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