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As a part of its annual grant cycle, the Faith & Action Project at CTS has awarded grants totaling $130,000 to support five efforts aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in Indianapolis. “Each of the 2021 Faith & Action Grant recipients recognized that we make the greatest strides against poverty though collaboration and by focusing on poverty’s root causes,” said Faith & Action Director Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch. “Through their work, we see that compassion does its greatest work when it seeks innovative solutions to large-scale problems rather than quick fixes.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a variety of organizations and focus on different aspects of poverty. Each of them provides vital services and creative approaches that address the underlying causes of poverty and its effects.

Brookside Community Development Corporation on the east side of Indianapolis received a grant of $25,000 to expand its Education and Employment Academy’s workforce development, mentoring and academic-support programs that prepare Neat Eastside youth for success in school and the working world. Through afterschool programs for 12-19-year-olds, the Academy helps young people overcome or avoid poverty through leadership development, academic support and exposure to career opportunities. Some of the funds will support the hiring of a Workforce Coach, who will cultivate community partnerships that benefit the students and teach workforce development skills. The grant funding will also allow Brookside CDC to contract with community partners who provide complementary services to help students succeed in school and in work. Remaining funds would be used to purchase equipment needed for the operations of CDC programs.

Also receiving a grant of $25,000, Elevate Indianapolis, which works to build long-term relationships with urban youth, will use this money to build on its “No one gets there alone” mantra by ensuring that more Indianapolis youth have access to the program’s trained Teacher-Mentors. Elevate will use the funds to help leverage relationships with Indianapolis Public Schools, Shepherd Community Center, Marian University, Saint Joseph’s College, and The Creek Church, supporting college search and application processes, vision trips and career fairs, soft-skills development and more. With an emphasis on hiring staff who share similar backgrounds with students served in overcoming socioeconomic, systemic and cultural barriers, Elevate Indianapolis helps students succeed in the classroom and see greater opportunities ahead.

Outreach Indiana received $30,000 in grant funding to support the opening of satellite program centers serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness or housing instability around the city. Working in partnership with churches and other community organizations, Outreach will open satellites near high schools and in areas identified as having greater numbers of youth without secure housing. The Faith & Action funding will help meet immediate and basic needs including transportation, food and clothing. Funds also will support the development of mentor relationships and contribute to salaries for coaches who work one-on-one with the youth, helping them access social services and guiding them in developing education, employment and housing goals.

Seeking to break the cycle of poverty that often follows from incarceration, You Yes You, an organization that connects fathers to their families and fills in gaps in service, was awarded $25,000 to expand programs and provide services for self-discovery, mental health, literacy, nutrition, financial literacy and more. The organization works to strengthen connections within families and build up the capabilities of incarcerated and post-incarcerated parents and their children. Launched with a 2014 father-daughter dance that took place inside a correctional facility, You Yes You has expanded in part at the request of the Indiana Department of Correction.

Grateful for the grant funding and the work it will enable them to do, Ericka Sanders, Executive Director of You Yes You, said that “Without these additional opportunities, families would likely experience a more difficult time finding the necessary resources they need as well as someone to consistently advocate on their behalf.”

Lastly, Lutheran Child and Family Services, Pando Aspen Grove, was awarded $25,000 to support adding a Peer Support Specialist to its team at Pando Aspen Grove. The organization’s housing initiative provides homes and support services to homeless youth who have “aged out” of the welfare/foster child-care system. The new Peer Support Specialist will be a Certified Recovery Specialist with peer supporting training who can help to ensure that program participants remain in housing for a full year, engage in supportive services from community partners, create individual success plans for academic and employment goals, and make progress toward those goals. The new position supported by the grant funding will play an important role in the organization’s ability to help participants avoid the descent into poverty that so often afflicts housing-insecure youth, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and LGBTQ/gender-diverse.

Celebrating the work of these impactful organizations, Rabinowitch said, “We are confident these grant organizations will transform the lives of families for months and years to come. Their programs equip individuals to move out of poverty by removing barriers to education and work, by providing consistent mentoring and guidance, access to safe and affordable housing and by encouraging progress toward self-sufficiency. The Faith & Action is honored to lift up and support these collaborative and holistic efforts that are required to reduce poverty in Indianapolis.”

Learn more about the Faith & Action Project here.