December 2016

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Faith & Action Project e-news

December 15, 2016

Reaching across boundaries

 


Unacceptable
Fact of the Month
Nearly 20 percent of Marion County residents face food insecurity, according to o Feeding America. The national rate of food insecurity is 15 percent.

A few weeks ago, CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton and I sat down with area faith leaders to hear their thoughts on the Faith & Action Project. Based on the questions they asked – about the mechanics of the program, the grants that will be awarded, and the overall process – it was clear that they already have been thinking about how their faith communities might participate. As encouraging as that was, it was even more exciting to hear them underscore basic tenets of the Project. This diverse group of faith leaders spoke in common language about collaboration, solutions that go beyond immediate needs to address source issues, a desire to leverage existing community assets, and more. In that, I saw a glimpse of the future: A community reaching across boundaries to work together for those living in poverty. It was an inspiring vision, and we look forward to collaborating with all of you to bring it to life. One key product of that discussion and other conversations: The Faith & Action Project team is considering a new model for awarding the grants. We’ll still award a total of $100,000, but we might award that money differently than originally announced. We’ll keep you posted on this as we finalize our approach.


Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project

Sustained transformation

When the Faith & Action Project invited area faith leaders to lunch recently, one theme wove its way into almost every facet of the conversation: What the community needs now is transformational action against poverty’s causes, not transactional programs that seek to alleviate poverty’s symptoms.

“We want to help people get ahead in a ‘just-getting-by’ world,” said one pastor at the Nov. 16 meeting. “We want to move from doing charity work to being advocates,” said another.

Those sentiments resonate with the founding vision of the Faith & Action Project, which was created to have a lasting and sustainable impact on the factors that contribute to poverty in Central Indiana.

The lunchtime conversation with faith leaders served as a tangible representation of one of the Faith & Action Project’s envisioned roles in the fight against poverty: The Project seeks to convene community members for frank discussions about poverty and its root causes. In addition, the Project seeks to educate area residents about the poverty in their midst, and to serve as a catalyst for community action.

As stated in our foundational documents, the Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary is dedicated to the idea that the time has come for a new social movement, a community-wide, inclusive coalition focused on economic well-being, poverty, race, inequality, and related issues, all with a view toward forging collaborative partnerships that lead to lasting solutions.

If you see an opportunity for the Faith & Action Project to convene another group for a conversation that could facilitate fruitful relationships, ideas and knowledge sharing, please contact Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch. You can learn more about the Faith & Action Project here.

What works best?

Of the various programs that could be deployed to combat poverty, transitional job programs might have the greatest impact, judging by a study of poverty in New York City. The study, commissioned by a consortium of nonprofits and released last year by the Urban Institute, assessed the potential impact of seven government policies: Transitional jobs, earnings supplements, a higher minimum wage, increased benefits from food stamps, increased housing vouchers, guaranteed child care subsidies and a tax credit for seniors and people with disabilities. Of those, the models suggested that transitional jobs could have the greatest potential, lowering poverty by 21.4 percent to 15.9 percent. Even more effective than the transitional jobs program would be a combination of all the programs. The study tested three models of program combinations, with results ranging from a 44 percent reduction in poverty to a 69 percent reduction. Of course, the government would have to spend considerably more money to implement the programs – in fact, for the tested program combinations, government costs would range between $6.5 billion and $9.1 billion. “We believe that in order to truly alleviate poverty, policies that invest in working families – providing the supports necessary for them to get out of poverty and remain above the poverty level without continued, long-term government assistance – must be adopted and adequately funded,” said the funders of the report. Read the study here.

Guiding Principles

At the Faith & Action Project, we believe:

  • 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, our efforts must be as open and inclusive as possible.
  • The widest and most effective solutions will intentionally consider how to reduce possible unintended harm from those solutions; produce equitable opportunities and benefits; and include accessible avenues of participation, including at the design stage, for the solution’s intended beneficiaries.

Upcoming Mark your calendar for these important dates.
 

February 9

Grant application available online

March 14

All-day Faith & Action Spring Conference at Christian Theological Seminary
(required for grant applicants)

March 16

Faith & Action Grant application info session 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. (optional)

May 1

Project profiles due for grants

July1

Grant applications due

September

Three 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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