A Foundation of Faith and Love
From 2012 to 2018, Indiana saw a 66% increase in the number of children entering the foster care system each year (from 11,903 to 18,560).
Children’s Defense Fund
“The State of America’s Children 2020
As we launch the next round of the Faith & Action Grant program (see below), I am reminded of the values that drove Christian Theological Seminary to create the Faith & Action Project four years ago: a realization that we needed to spark a revolution of hope; awareness that communities of faith can and must play a galvanizing, sustaining role; a belief in the impact of collaboration; and a bias toward action and long-term solutions that address the root causes of poverty.
Of course, at the heart of all of this is faith. That is, after all, the first word in our name, and it’s also the source of our vision at CTS. Faith fuels our distaste for the injustice of poverty, and it drives our desire for an equity that supersedes matters such as race, geography and culture. Faith inspires us to widen our circle of compassion to provide a place within our community where, as Father Greg Boyle said at last year’s Faith & Action Spring Conference, “there is no ‘us and them,’ there’s just us, which is the only place where you can stand against forgetting that we belong to each other.”
As we enter this new grant season, we are aware, of course, that we are operating in the unprecedented context of COVID-19. That’s why we awarded $75,000 in emergency relief grants to seven organizations, seeking to mitigate the ways the demands of social distancing could affect vulnerable populations and provide resources for mental health services and family stability measures.
Even as we acknowledge that context, we recognize that we cannot let the pandemic interrupt the fight against poverty. We urge everyone – individuals and organizations – to continue the bigger battle even as you provide COVID-related aid. After all, the factors we seek to address are the very forces exacerbating the pandemic’s impact on too many of our neighbors. And those forces will remain when the pandemic subsides.
As we consider the values that drive us, we are reminded what overcoming poverty will require. We recognize that this is complex, relationship-based work. We see that it requires focus, clear intention and patience. It demands the compassion to walk alongside our neighbor through times of difficulty, and the willingness to collaborate in sometimes surprising ways. It insists that we surrender ego and the desire for recognition in order to gain a collective success.
An example of how this works can be seen in BUILD (see story below), which provides construction-trade training for young men and women as a means for overcoming economic barriers. Certainly, these job skills give a boost to these young people, but BUILD adds to that boost by also providing mentorship, compassion, opportunities for advancing educations and, perhaps most powerful, love. Through this relational process, BUILD seeks to inspire its participants to create new visions of what’s possible. (To hear more about BUILD, watch this video.)
That is what we seek for our community: a new, faith-fueled and love-driven vision of what’s possible. With that kind of vision, we believe poverty can be overcome. We are honored to work alongside you in that effort.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
BUILDing new futures
Believers United In Local Development (BUILD) provides the skills and mentoring necessary for young men and women to succeed in life. When participants begin BUILD’s program, they are handed a tool belt, basic hand tools, boots and protective equipment, but the more important assets they receive likely are the character-shaping training that promises to open doors to opportunities for success and stability. Through mentorship, counseling, education assistance, spiritual guidance and more, BUILD seeks to help young men and women change their stories, says Troy Turner, BUILD’s Construction and Program Manager. “We meet them where they are,” he says. “We love them for who they are, and who they’re going to become.” BUILD works in partnership with 15 faith-based organizations focused on reducing poverty though construction training and personal development. To view a short video about BUILD, click here.
Let the Sun In
As we live in a world illuminated by riot flames in the wake of George Floyd’s death, many white people have sought to understand the forces fanning the flames. Even those who are heartbroken and outraged must concede that they cannot fully understand the impact daily racism has on people of color. Former NBA superstar and lifetime activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offers insights in an essay in the LA Times. “Racism in America is like dust in the air,” he writes. “It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.” To read the complete article, click here.
2020 Grants Process Kicks Off
The Faith & Action Project has begun the process of finding the next cohort of poverty-fighting innovators that will receive Faith & Action Grant recipients. Although 2020 Faith & Action Grant applications aren’t due until July 31, grant applications are available now. Click here to access this year’s application.
As you prepare your application, consider a few key questions:
- How could a Faith & Action grant fuel your organization’s fight against poverty?
- What partnerships could you form to expand your reach?
- What novel approaches could you embrace to increase your impact?
- What barriers to success can you help others overcome?
- What tools would help you change lives?
Also bear in mind the objectives of the grants program:
- to promote and facilitate collaboration
- to boost initiatives that could have greater impact with additional resources
- to support sustainable efforts with long-term impact (rather than those addressing urgent needs)
The Faith & Action Grant Program relies on a multi-step application process: Organizations must submit a first-round application by July 31. Those invited into the next round will submit a full grant proposal in August.
Child Poverty is a Moral Tragedy, by Jeff Madrick. Harmonizing with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s calls for a universal basic income, this brief essay in Time magazine argues that cash allowances should be paid to families with children. Noting the price tag of Yang’s proposal, author and Century Foundation Senior Fellow Madrick writes, “For far less money–about $100 billion–the number of children living in official poverty could be cut in half.” Madrick expands on his argument in his latest book, “Invisible Americans: The Tragic Cost of Child Poverty.”
Mark your calendar for these important dates
July 31, 2020: Deadline for first-round Faith & Action Grant applications.
September 1, 2020: Deadline for second-round Faith & Action Grant applications.
September 29, 2020: Faith & Action Fall Event