April 2017

Faith & Action Project e-news

April 2017

Practicing What We Preach


Fact of the Month
In 2014, the website Walk Score ranked Indianapolis 50th out of 51 cities as the nation’s worst food desert. The site ranked big US cities by the percentage of residents who can walk to a grocery store within five minutes – a criteria that is especially relevant in a city also ranked as among the worst in the nation for public transit.

The Faith & Action Project touts the virtues of listening to one another. Now we have an opportunity to share how we continue learning to practice what we preach.

Initially, we announced we would award grants of $50,000, $20,000 and $10,000, with the expectation that applicants would compete for the highest award. The smaller awards would go to the “second-place” and “third-place” finishers in the grant competition. It seemed like a reasonable and time-tested approach.

When community leaders and likely grant applicants gathered last year, their first questions challenged this grant competition structure. They asked whether creating a competition runs counter to the notion of community cooperation, and whether it might inhibit collaboration by forcing organizations to work “against” each other.

I’m proud to say that the Faith & Action Advisory Board listened. As a result, grant awards are not being prescribed. Specific grant amounts, including the number of grants will be determined by our grant jury, with the guideline being that the Faith & Action Project will award grants totaling $100,000. We expect typical grants to be approximately $35,000, but organizations may request higher or lower amounts.

With a finite number of dollars to award, some level of “competition” is inherent to the process. However, we hope that this shift refocuses the competitive aspect of the grant process to better encourage collaboration.

Read more about the grant process below. Meanwhile, thank you for raising questions about the way we planned to award grants and for helping us recognize a better way. Your dedication to the spirit of community increases the impact we can have together.

Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project

Planning To Apply?

If you plan to apply for a Faith & Action Project grant, your first deadline is quickly approaching. You must submit your Letter of Intent and Program Summary by 5 pm on May 1, 2017.

As you prepare these documents, please note the following:

  • To apply, you must be a 501(c)(3) organization or an individual collaborating with a 501(c)(3) organization, and you must have attended the March 14 Faith & Action Project Spring Conference (or discussed your absence with Faith & Action Project staff).
  • The Faith & Action Grants will be made eligible to faith communities, individuals and nonprofit organizations currently serving or with the capacity to serve Marion County.
  • Faith & Action Project is committed to conducting a fair and transparent granting process and welcomes all qualified applicants.
  • A jury composed of Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Rev. Bill Enright, Dr. Virginia King, Rabbi Sandi Sasso, Judge David Shaheed and Michael Twyman will be reviewing the applications.
  • Your Letter of Intent and Program Summary should be in the form of a one-page letter and one- to two-page summary. It should provide an overview of your proposed program and answer the following:
    • Is your proposal for a new or existing program?
    • What need or opportunity will your program address?
    • How will you measure your program’s success?
    • What metrics are you considering for outcome measurement?
    • With what community or neighborhood do you intend to partner?
    • With whom are you currently collaborating to shape and implement your program?
    • Are there faith communities with which you would like to collaborate to shape and implement your proposal?
    • Include organizational qualifications and list primary contact.
    • List the fund amount requested (up to $50,000).

You will strengthen your application if you can explain how you worked to ensure that your idea does not duplicate something that already exists elsewhere. 

Submit three hard copies of your Letter of Intent and Program Summary to:
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Christian Theological Seminary
1000 W 42nd St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208

You will be notified by mid-May if the jury decides to request a full application. The deadline for full applications is June 30.

If you have questions about the grant process, see the FAQ document here. If you would like to see the actual grant application, you will find it here.

Guiding Values

As we enter this next stage in the Faith & Action Project process, we will work to keep foremost in our minds the principles upon which the Project was founded:

  • It’s time for action, not only talk.
  • It’s time for solution-oriented thinking, not only identifying problems.
  • Building on a community’s existing assets can be more powerful than focusing on a community’s unmet needs.
  • The world’s great religious traditions–including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, among others–each call on us to attend closely to the well-being of the impoverished and most vulnerable.
  • We need a new social movement in this regard, and communities of faith and conviction can and must play a galvanizing, sustaining role.
  • Poverty has personal, social and structural dimensions, and must be confronted accordingly. This includes candidly addressing how implicit and explicit racial and class-related biases distort our community life.
  • Effective solutions will be rooted in evidence-based design and evaluation.
  • Organizations that collaborate can increase impact, reduce redundancies and make better use of finite resources.
  • At every turn, efforts must be as inclusive and transparent as possible.
  • The most wise and effective solutions will intentionally consider the possibility of unintended harm; produce equitable opportunities and benefits; and include accessible avenues of participation, beginning at the design stage, for the solution’s intended beneficiaries.

Charity or Justice?

Recent years have seen an evolution in approaches to helping those in poverty. Rather than simply working to alleviate people’s immediate needs, leaders and organizations are putting an emphasis on addressing the systemic issues that create need. This approach was highlighted often during the Faith & Action Project Spring Conference.

At the conference and in national settings, this discussion often centers on one key consideration: the difference between charity and justice.

Michael Tubbs, the 26-year-old recently elected mayor of Stockton, CA, sees this distinction in very tangible terms. A lecturer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (commonly known as “Stanford d.school”), he used problems with his wisdom teeth as a metaphor, noting that painkillers can ease his discomfort but they won’t change the fact that he needs dental surgery. See a 2016 talk he gave on the subject here.

About the same time Tubbs was giving his talk, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker published a piece in the New York Times titled, “Why Giving Back Isn’t Enough.” Read the editorial here.

While the prevailing tide is turning toward justice over charity, Tubbs, Walker and countless others have made the case that we are not in a position to abandon charity in favor of justice. Both charity and justice are needed and effective. However, charity alone will seldom succeed in truly lifting anyone up, or creating lasting impact, according to industry experts.

Like Tubbs’ painkillers, charity is sometimes needed; however, like his surgery, it is justice that truly solves the problem.

As the Faith & Action Project proceeds, the great challenge will be to find that proper balance between charity and justice, providing the right amount of “pain killer” and “surgical” interventions. We ask that everyone engaged consider charity and justice, learn about approaches to balance both and be prepared to speak up during discussions about the right way to make a difference.

Upcoming Mark your calendar for these important dates.

May 1

Letters of intent and Program Summaries due
Mid-May Participants will be notified if a full grant application is requested
June 30 Grant applications due

Early Sept.

Grant recipients notified

Late Sept.

Fall event/grant recipients announced
Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary 1000 W. 42nd Street | Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone: (317) 931-2336  |  Fax: (317) 923-1961  |  Email: LRabinowitch@cts.edu  |  Web: www.cts.edu
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