The Value Beyond Grants
One of the topics that comes up again and again in our conversations about poverty is incarceration.
It makes sense, because, statistically speaking, incarceration emerges consistently as both a by-product of poverty and a cause of poverty. In other words, we often learn that men and women emerging from prison were living in poverty before they were incarcerated. Then the weight of a prison record, the loss of employment and the many other complicating factors that accompany them as they re-enter the community immediately put them on the brink of poverty – if not fully into it – all over again.
Of course, when this happens, it’s not just the person who has been in prison who is affected. Families suffer as well … which far too often works to perpetuate this vicious poverty-prison-poverty cycle.
The good news is that this cycle doesn’t always continue. It is possible for men and women emerging from prison to disrupt that cycle and find a new way in life. For proof, one only needs to look to the story of Greg Perry, a participant in Goodwill’s New Beginnings Program, which received a Faith & Action Grant in 2017.
By his own admission, Greg’s life before prison was no storybook picture, and he certainly faced all of the typical challenges coming out of prison. But at New Beginnings, he found an alternative option: hope.
Today, Greg is proud to have earned his forklift certification and to have a full-time job as a forklift operator. He’s also working toward a Commercial Driver’s License and working a second, part-time job.
Greg concedes that his initial motivation was simply staying out of prison. Eventually, though, he gained a new motivation: the compassion of those around him. “I realized [the New Beginnings team] cared about me, even when I didn’t care about myself,” he said. “They showed me that I was valuable, and people depended on me. It changed my life.” And that led him to see that he needed to create a new narrative for his kids and others in his life. (Learn more about Greg’s journey here.)
In this story, I see a truth we learn over and over again. Wonderful programs like New Beginnings are essential to the work of turning back poverty, but they only do their real work when they are accompanied by compassion. When we allow people to life themselves up and discover a new dignity and purpose, we truly equip them to succeed and, in so doing, to break cycles that too often overshadow our community’s families.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
Grant Recipients Named
After receiving 49 letter of intent and 14 full grant proposals, earlier this month, the Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary announced that it is awarding a total of $115,000 in 2019 Faith & Action Grants to four efforts aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in Indianapolis. The 2019 grants and the programs they will support are:
- $30,000 to BUILD (Believers United In Local Development). This grant will allow BUILD to reach more young men and women with programs that provide unemployed or underemployed youth with accredited training for in-demand skills in the construction industry. Using an evidence-based approach that focuses on training and poverty disruption through mentoring, education and more, BUILD collaborates with YouthBuild Indy partnerships that incorporate the West Side Ministers (led by Friendship Missionary Church) as well as EmployIndy, Marian University, CICF, INHP and Marion County Community Corrections. With the grant, BUILD will increase its capacity to provide training to 10 young men and women (ages 16-24). Program participants receive tool belts with basic hand tools, construction boots, personal protective equipment, lunches and a weekly stipend during the 14-week training period. In addition, when necessary, trainees receive counseling, transportation assistance, rental assistance and financial counseling.
- $30,000 to the Near East Area Renewal (NEAR) and Shepherd Community Center. NEAR and the Shepherd Community Center will use their grant to help fund the first intentional intergenerational living and learning center in Indiana, where senior adults and young children will find shelter, care, hospitality, growth and hope. In response to a critical community need for both childcare and affordable senior housing, NEAR is redeveloping the former IPS School 78 into the Minnie Hartmann Center, which will include 64 units of affordable senior housing and a Shepherd Community Center-operated early learning/childcare center that will serve 148 children. Plans also include training for families from John Boner Neighborhood Centers in such areas as career services, financial coaching and individual development accounts. When completed, the day care will create 27 new full-time, livable-wage jobs. www.nearindy.org/initiatives/minnie-hartman-center
- $30,000 to the Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry (PACE). PACE will use its grant to remove barriers to successful re-entry for men and women coming out of prison and their families. With services including job placements, transportation assistance, peer recovery coaching, high school equivalency preparation, mental health counseling and more, PACE fights poverty by helping ex-offenders develop productive lives and avoid re-offending. While studies have shown that, without services, 45% of prisoners will re-offend, PACE participants experienced a recidivism rate of only 2.9 percent in 2018. Partnering with Overcoming Church, which helps those struggling with substance abuse, and a wide range of other community organizations and corporations, PACE operates its Recovery Resource Center in the Martindale-Brightwood Community and focuses on outcomes such as employment, job placements, participation in education and training programs, financial-coaching participation and avoiding re-arrest. www.paceindy.org
- $25,000 to Purposeful Design. With its grant, Purposeful Design plans to add additional training and services to its social enterprise that helps to rebuild the lives of men, women and youth who have struggled through poverty, addiction, homelessness and/or prison. Equipping participants with work skills and productive work, Purposeful Design teaches participants furniture making as well as what it means to walk in faith. The organization plans to use the 2019 Faith & Action grant to add metal working to its services (which will allow it to hire and train more people), expand its no-fee School of Woodworking & Discipleship to reach more men, women and youth, as well as to fine-tune the organization, plan for future growth, and expand beyond Central Indiana. For the past three years, revenue from furniture sales has covered more than 90% of expenses, suggesting that self-sustainability and scaling up are possible. Collaborators include College Park Church, Festool Corporation, Purdue University and 35 additional corporations, nonprofits and churches. www.pindy.org
Save the Date: Fall Event
Plan to join the Faith & Action Project and people from across the community on Oct. 1 at 7 PM at Clowes Memorial Hall for “Uncomfortable Truths, Healing Impact,” Faith & Action’s 2019 Fall Event. The evening will feature news commentator, author and social justice advocate Van Jones in a discussion that also will include Eastern Star Church Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson, Center for Leadership Development President Dennis E. Bland and Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana Vice President of Mission and Education Initiatives Betsy Delgado.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive, by Stephanie Land. As one reviewer described it, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive challenges those who judge people in poverty with a long list of “should” … they should work harder, they should spend differently, they should, they should, they should. This memoir of a life in poverty demonstrates how life circumstances can spiral into poverty … and too easily hold someone there.
Mark your calendar for this important date.
Oct.1, 7 PM: Fall event at Clowes Memorial Hall
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