Over the past few months, we’ve spent a lot of time listening. We’ve sat down with people living in poverty and those who work with them. We’ve gathered together faith leaders, community leaders and funders, and we’ve chatted with event attendees. Our primary question? What would strengthen the fight against poverty in Central Indiana?
Some common themes emerged. We heard a lot about the need for increased collaboration among organizations and a greater coordination of available services. At the same time, we heard that collaboration and coordination are hard. They require time and energy, an awareness of who’s out there doing similar work and the opportunity to network with peers. For organizations involved on the front lines of anti-poverty work, those resources often are in short supply.
We also heard a desire for information. Organizations want evidence-based models that highlight what’s working in other communities, data to help them understand the scope of the problem and the ability to use that data effectively.
In the coming year, we will respond to what we’ve heard by addressing those recurring themes. We will continue to connect and convene, we will share information and data, and we will help you gather knowledge and expertise. But, alongside such practical and tangible activities, we also will promote the less-tangible but more-impactful aspects of our work: faith and hope.
Of course, faith is a fitting point to consider during this time of year, when so many people are celebrating important events in their faith traditions. Then again, it is a fitting point to ponder throughout the year, since it is our faith traditions’ call to fight injustices, such as poverty, that guide our actions.
So, to return to my opening lines, I close by saying this: Certainly, we can strengthen the fight against poverty by providing tools to better position us for success, including opportunities for collaboration and coordination, and more information and data. But we know we can have even greater impact by embodying the faith that compels us to care for our neighbors, to love one and all equally, and to fight injustice. As we celebrate what we believe, we thank you for being champions of that kind of faith.
May hope and peace be evident this holiday season. We look forward to working alongside you in the year to come.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
What We’re About
Over the past few months, as we have engaged with new individuals and organizations working to eliminate poverty in Central Indiana, we often have been asked to share the Faith & Action Project’s founding principles and values. As such, we felt it would be useful to include them here as a resource and reminder for the community and our partners. Following is an overview of what 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 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 who 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 most wise and effective solutions will intentionally consider the possibility of unintended harm; produce equitable opportunities and benefits; and include accessible avenues of participation, including at the design stage, for the solution’s intended beneficiaries.
Learning to Share
The financial divides in our communities often are most obvious in the schools our children attend. Not only do schools in more financially capable communities tend to have more municipal support, but they also see a huge advantage when it comes to parent and community support. As a result, the “haves” can quickly become the “have even mores.” To address this divide, some better-off schools are sharing the wealth with their less-fortunate peers. Slate explains how it works in this article.
Philly Sets Aggressive Anti-Poverty Goal
In a city often named the nation’s poorest, the city council of Philadelphia has set an aggressive goal: Move 100,000 people out of poverty by 2024. Rather than designing new anti-poverty programs, the city aims to achieve this goal in part by eliminating barriers that prevent people from taking advantage of existing programs. The plan targets three areas of concern cited by the council’s March 2019 Narrowing the Gap Report: housing, the social safety net, and jobs and education. Learn more here.
A Guide for Cities Reducing Poverty, by Brock Carlton and Paul Born. Between 2015 and 2017, Canada reduced its poverty rate by 20 percent. Much of that success has been attributed to the work of the Tamarack Institute and its Cities Reducing Poverty effort, which focused on the power of collaboration, coordination and community. This 2016 guide provides an overview of how the process has worked.
Mark your calendar for this important date.
April 30, 2020: Faith & Action Spring Conference To sign up for the Faith & Action newsletter, please click here.
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