WASHINGTON (March 21, 1997) -- The Campaign for Human Development (CHD), the Catholic Church's domestic anti-poverty program, will make available up to $500,000 on a one-time basis to support efforts to help low-income people play a positive role in implementing federal welfare reform legislation at the state and local levels.
CHD monies, to be awarded on a matching basis, will go to support broad-based community organizing, networking, coalition-building and advocacy. CHD will fund efforts that encourage positive and innovative policy directions, while also seeking to minimize the adverse impact of welfare reform, especially as it relates to the most vulnerable -- children, single mothers and immigrants.
Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., chairman of the United States Catholic Conference - CHD Committee, announced the new initiative in Washington.
"In light of the extraordinary uncertainty that exists about the impact of many welfare reform measures, CHD is acting now to give poor people a voice in how those policies are enacted and carried out at the state level," Bishop Ramirez said.
The Campaign for Human Development, founded by the Catholic Bishops in 1970, is the nation's largest private funder of projects that empower the poor and workto eliminate poverty and injustice. Grants are distributed based on need, not religious affiliation.
CHD will award small grants of $15,000-$20,000 in various states to engage in immediate coalition building as state welfare reform plans are developed. It is expected that these will be awarded on an expedited basis by mid-April. Larger grants of $35,000-$50,000 will also be available for longer term efforts to monitor impacts, advocate further reform measures and promote just wage and work opportunities. Applications for these grants are due May 15.
Projects which focus on the challenges of moving recipients from welfare to work, such as job availability, job training, living wages, and adequate health care coverage will be encouraged. CHD also encourages the building of interfaith and ecumenical approaches in solidarity with organized groups of current or former low-income welfare recipients.
Top priority will go to projects that involve direct collaboration between and among organized groups of poor people and Catholic organizations such as state Catholic Conferences, Catholic Charities agencies, diocesan social action offices and their legislative networks.
Funding for this initiative comes from monies raised during the Campaign's twenty-fifth anniversary year and targeted for new initiatives. The Campaign's ongoing grant-making and justice education programs are supported through an annual collection in Catholic parishes throughout the country (on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, in most dioceses). Last year the Campaign distributed nearly $8 million in national grants to 263 low-income groups. Similar grants will also be made this year.
For further information about the CHD Welfare Reform Initiative contact the Campaign for Human Development, 3211 Fourth St., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017. Fax (202) 541-3329. Phone: Douglas Lawson (202) 541-3379 or Steve Callahan (202) 541-3376