WASHINGTON (August 26, 1997) -- The Campaign for Human Development (CHD), the Catholic Church's domestic anti-poverty program, is distributing $330,000 in grants as part of its innovative welfare reform initiative.
The money will go to low-income groups and Church-affiliated coalitions working to implement federal welfare reform laws at the state and local level.
The grants range from $25,000-$55,000 and will be distributed to nine organizations in eight states to support long term efforts, such as monitoring the impact of current reforms, advocating additional corrective reform measures, and promoting just wage and work opportunities.
This brings to $500,000 the amount CHD has awarded on a one-time basis to give poor people a voice as federal welfare reform legislation is implemented at the state and local levels. In the first round of funding, distributed in May, CHD awarded $169,150 to 14 organizations to engage in immediate coalition-building efforts as states developed their welfare plans.
Father Robert Vitillo, CHD executive director, announced the final round of welfare reform grants in Washington.
"Through these CHD grants, Catholics in the United States are putting the Church's social teaching into action. Our faith tells us that we must respect and defend the life and dignity of all persons," Father Vitillo said. "We have a special responsibility to assure the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society -- those who have been forced to depend on public assistance."
"These projects demonstrate a unique capacity to bring organized groups of poor people together with Catholic structures, such as state Catholic Conferences, Catholic Charities agencies, communities of religious women, and others, to assure the survival of those who are most needy among us," Father Vitillo said. "We are pleased that CHD's Welfare Reform Initiative has encouraged these collaborative ventures."
Grants recipients include:
- Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (ICIR) of San Francisco, which received $45,000. ICIR's membership includes the Latino Ministries Department of the Diocese of Oakland and Catholic Charities agencies in the state. ICIR works closely with other religious coalitions, immigrant rights organizations, community-based organizations, civil rights institutions, and labor groups. ICIR will use the grant to hire a full-time community organizer to work with immigrant communities to help them advocate for their rights and become knowledgeable about resources available to them. The Coalition will also assist immigrants and their allies to become advocates involved in shaping a new economic future.
- New England Welfare Reform Initiative, based in Springfield, Mass., which received $50,000. This project is a collaborative effort by groups located in five New England states and 11 Catholic dioceses, working together regionally on welfare reform. The participating organizations are the Catholic Conferences of Connecticut and Massachusetts, the New England Conference on Catholic Social Ministry, the Region I Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and three community organizing networks that have formed the New England Jobs Organizing Project. The goal is to support state-wide efforts and coalitions in the five states through shared resources and coordinated efforts to shape state policy development in ways that reflect principles advocated by the U.S. Catholic Conference in Moral Principles and Policy Priorities for Welfare Reform. The principles call for welfare reform that protects human life and dignity, strengthens family life, encourages and rewards work, preserves a safety net for the vulnerable, builds public/private partnerships to overcome poverty and invests in human dignity.
- Mississippi Coalition on Block Grants of Jackson, Miss., which received $30,000. The Mississippi Coalition on Block Grants is a coalition composed of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Louis, Catholic Charities and Catholic Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Jackson, the Mississippi Conference on Social Welfare, and more than 50 other organizations. The Coalition will organize low-income constituents in grassroots organizations to advocate for positive human services. The Coalition's focus is on the implementation of Mississippi's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) plan and food stamp requirements. The goal of the Coalition is to enable low-income people in grassroots organizations to understand the issues, prioritize the needed changes, and effectively work on their own behalf to bring about that essential change.
Funding for CHD's welfare reform initiative comes from monies raised during 1995, 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, usually taken up on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
In 1996 the Campaign distributed nearly $8 million in national grants to 263 low-income groups. The 1997 grants, totaling another $8 million, will be announced later this fall.
The Campaign for Human Development, founded by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1970, is the nation's largest private funder of projects that empower the poor and work to eliminate poverty and injustice. Grants are distributed based on need, not religious affiliation.
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.
Editors: A complete list by state of all the projects that received grants is available.
For further information, contact:
Campaign for Human Development