Acting as a Catalyst
Unacceptable Fact of the Month
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book, 12 percent of Indiana children live in high-poverty areas – an increase from eight percent in 2008.
If we were asked to sum up with one word the strategic vision that drives the Faith & Action Project, we might choose “catalyst.” After all, it is not our intention to create something new, or to be an entity that attempts to single-handedly eliminate poverty. Instead, we mean to provide resources and inspire collaboration that leads to meaningful change. Part of what feeds this vision is the knowledge that many organizations already do tremendous work in the fight against poverty. Every day, we see congregations, nonprofits and agencies doing remarkable and creative work. The problem is, too often these organizations work in silos, unaware that someone else is taking a similar approach, or that another initiative could be a wonderful complement to their work. In other cases, a brilliant idea might simply need the resources to scale up. And that’s where we hope to act as a catalyst: by making those connections and providing resources. Think your initiative could use a catalyst? Join us at our Spring Conference on March 14 (see the story below). Until then… Thank you for what you do.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
The Spring Conference, March 14
We recently asked area faith leaders to comment on why they plan to attend the Faith & Action Project Spring Conference. Rabbis Dennis and Sandy Sasso responded by saying:
To turn the tide against poverty, we must collaborate across faith communities, social divides, municipal boundaries and other sectors. Poverty ignores such boundaries, and so must we, if we are to bring economic justice to all. The Faith & Action Project is a promising vehicle for this kind of collaboration. With resolve and optimism, let us come together to help reduce poverty and increase hope and opportunity in our society.
The next step in the inaugural Faith & Action Project year, the March 14 Spring Conference, will be a day-long event focused on equipping the individuals and organizations fighting poverty. It will give attendees the opportunity to engage in a number of activities, including hearing from local and national thought leaders, connecting with others who are taking on poverty, and getting up-to-date data about poverty in Central Indiana.
In addition, the Spring Conference will provide information about the Faith & Action grant process. While it is not expected that everyone who attends the conference will apply for grants, the conference is a prerequisite for those who do plan to apply.
If you, like the Sasso’s, see the Faith & Action Project as an opportunity for delivering justice to our community, join us on March 14. Click here for more information.
HUD Funds Stability
Not only has the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development restored grant money to Indianapolis that will help the city fight homelessness, it has also reframed the grant to support stable housing rather than transitional solutions.
A Jan. 3 story in the Indianapolis Star noted that last year HUD slashed Indianapolis funding for programs that provide help and housing to the homeless by nearly $700,000. This year, the lost funding was restored – and then some – resulting in a $5 million grant to the city.
The article also noted that the higher level of funding coincides with a new HUD emphasis on finding stable housing for the homeless. This HUD emphasis is prompting a change of direction for Indy, which has sought to provide assistance in the form of transitional housing.
As Mayor Joe Hogsett put it, “The city’s efforts to end homelessness no longer stop with simply providing temporary shelter or transitional housing. Instead … we are looking at long-term solutions, solutions that fundamentally address the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.” To learn more, read here.
From Charity to Justice
The Faith & Action Project aims to nurture ideas that generate true transformation rather than episodic assistance. Doing this, we believe, requires addressing the root causes of poverty, not the symptoms.
In a recent article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website, authors Dorian O. Burton and Brian C.C. Barnes argue that this kind of transformation will occur only if philanthropists shift from a charity mindset to a justice mindset, from social “band aids” to social change. To provoke this kind of shift in mindset, Burton and Barnes challenged philanthropists to ask themselves seven questions:
- Are you aware of and do you value the existing leadership in the community you plan to serve?
- Do you see and understand the historical factors that underlie the issues you aim to tackle?
- What is the value in getting proximate to those you serve?
- Do you see grantees and community leaders as equal partners in your philanthropic strategy?
- Do you see the value of including diverse persons on your own team?
- Do you see the value of smaller organizations?
- Is your organization accountable to driving systems-level change?
Burton and Barnes support these questions with pertinent research, and then close their article with these words:
Ultimately, real change will come only when all organizations and individuals in a system change. But systemic change does not come without expense. Time, resources, reputation, and relationships all require adjustments and sacrifice as we move from charitable giving to a justice-based framework of philanthropy. The question becomes: Are we as philanthropists, in the name of justice, willing to pay the cost for the change we wish to see? Our actions moving forward will reveal our answer.
Charity is commendable, but justice is transformational. How will you spend your resources?
To read the full article, click here.
|Upcoming||Mark your calendar for these important dates.|
|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|