WASHINGTON (October 10, 1997) -- The Campaign for Human Development (CHD), the Catholic Church's domestic anti-poverty program, has awarded $8 million in national grants for 1997 to help groups of low-income people create jobs, fight crime, reform schools, improve conditions in the workplace, and find affordable homes.
These grants, from private funds donated last fall in Catholic parishes nationwide, will be distributed to 256 self-help projects located in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Father Robert J. Vitillo, executive director of the Campaign for Human Development announced the 1997 grants in Washington.
"In spite of the nation's current prosperity and record gains on Wall Street, millions of Americans still struggle with the difficult social problems that have suffocated hope in too many communities in this country. People living in poverty are eager and able to find real solutions to their problems. These CHD grants are signs of hope for them," Father Vitillo said.
The Campaign for Human Development, founded by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1970, is the nation's largest private funder of organizations that empower the poor and work to eliminate poverty and injustice. Grants are distributed based on need, not religious affiliation.
Three types of self-help projects received 1997 funding: organizing, economic development and national impact. The largest amount -- $6.6 million -- went to 205 organizing projects. In organizing projects, poor and marginalized people are empowered as they join together to seek solutions to local problems. These projects enable individuals to develop as community leaders as they improve their lives and neighborhoods.
CHD's economic development funding -- $1.1 million in 1997 -- assists organized groups of poor and low-income people in starting or expanding businesses which employ low-income people, in developing businesses which promote management and worker ownership, and in creating capacity for community-based economic development in low-income communities.
This year's organizing and economic development grants include
- Eastside Community Investments of Indianapolis, which received a $100,000 grant and loan package to start an employee-owned home health care company;
- Centro Independiente de Trabajadores Agricolas of Florida, N.Y., which received $50,000 to improve the quality of life and to reduce discrimination and workplace exploitation among immigrants in New York, particularly farmworkers;
- Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, which received $40,000 to organize public housing residents in Cabrini Green and throughout the city to protect and revitalize public housing;
- Fishermen's Bounty of Bokeelia, Fla., which received $25,000 to help a group of local fishermen develop an aquaculture business to raise fish on land after their livelihoods were threatened by a government ban on commercial net fishing;
- Delaware Housing Coalition of Dover, Del., which received $30,000 to organize tenants statewide to ensure that poor renters can find safe, decent and affordable housing in the state;
- West Texas Organizing Project of Lubbock, Texas, which received $60,000 to organize and empower poor and low-income people in a rural, nine-county region of West Texas; and
- Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches of Los Angeles, which received $50,000 to continue its push for basic educational requirements for prisoners and ex-offenders to help them qualify for jobs so they don't return to a life of crime.
- National Impact grants are a new area of funding. A total of $360,000 will be distributed to projects designed to have a significant impact in at least three areas of the country.
- Interfaith Education Fund of Austin, Texas, which received $140,000 to help low-income groups in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona focus on employment training and the creation of jobs that pay living wages;
- Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now Living Wage Project of Brooklyn, N.Y., which received $120,000 to carry out living wage campaigns in at least 12 cities and/or states in an effort to increase the wages of the lowest paid workers in the nation; and
- Gamaliel Foundation of Chicago, which received $100,000 to establish organizations capable of addressing inequities in regional development and distribution of resources in metropolitan areas of the Midwest.
Receiving CHD's National Impact grants this year are
"With the sweeping changes now underway in our state and federal public assistance programs, CHD's self-help grants become significantly more important. The Campaign for Human Development's grant recipients provide successful examples of how poor people themselves can bring about greater self-sufficiency both locally and nationally," Father Vitillo said.
CHD has provided more than $200 million in grants and loans to more than 3,000 self-help projects since its founding 27 years ago. CHD-funded groups have been instrumental in securing passage of federal and state legislation on such issues as child support, family and medical leave, community reinvestment, and housing.
Through CHD's education program, poor and non-poor people work in partnership to improve the quality of life for all.
Funds for CHD's allocation program are raised during the Campaign's annual collection in Catholic parishes nationwide. In most parishes the collection is held the weekend before Thanksgiving; this year it will be November 22-23.
"Through CHD, we Catholics give the precious gift of hope to thousands of people who need it most. This program owes its success to Catholic parishioners who, through their yearly contributions, stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in need.," Father Vitillo said.
The Campaign for Human Development national office is based in Washington, D.C.