WASHINGTON (September 5, 2000) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, announced today the distribution of $10.1 million targeted at the causes of poverty and encouraged Americans to acknowledge the depth and breadth of poverty in this country.
Of the total amount, $9.6 million will fund 366 projects across the country, selected without regard to religious affiliation. The projects take direct and local action at the root causes of poverty in surrounding communities. CCHD also will award $500,000 in National Impact Grants later this year for projects that are active in more than three states and aimed at addressing immigration issues. CCHD is the largest U.S. private funder of anti-poverty programs controlled by the poor.
The grants come when an increasing number of Americans say that the poor should help themselves rather than receive handouts. A concern for that attitude has prompted the Catholic Church in the United States to step up the number of community-based programs that receive funding to attack the root causes of poverty.
"The low unemployment rate and the creation of new wealth have conspired to make many Americans believe that poverty and homelessness in the United States have disappeared," said Father Robert J. Vitillo, CCHD executive director. "In fact, the strong economy has simply pushed the issue of poverty to the background, which enables otherwise caring people to forget about the poor and ignore any evidence of poverty they may see in their communities.
"The projects we are funding in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as the projects that requested help but that we could not fund, stand in testimony to the urgent needs of poor people in our society," Father Vitillo said.
"The breadth of the poverty includes farm families, immigrants, the working poor, undereducated adults, the disabled poor and, as always, children of all ages," he added. "The depth of the poverty speaks to neighborhoods that have been ignored for years or even decades, housing stock that has fallen into neglect, schools where parents lack the skills to organize on their children's behalf, and laborers in the workforce that are neither paid a fair wage nor valued for their contributions."
CCHD funds come from individual Catholics who donate to a nationwide church collection each year, usually in the fall. One quarter of the local collection stays in the diocese and the remainder is distributed nationally according to need. Funds go to organizations that are based in communities; 90 of the organizations this year have a relationship to a religious denomination, Catholic or otherwise, or are interfaith organizations.
This year's $10.1 million is slightly more than the record $10 million distributed last year and significantly more than the $8.5 million distributed in 1998 and in any year previous to that in CCHD's 30-year history.
"While some Americans are unaware of the extent of poverty today, the size of the collection demonstrates the fundamental generosity of Catholics in this country. When the subject of poverty is brought up and the enormity of the problem is explained, people will dig deep into their pockets to help," Father Vitillo said. "We must continue to keep our focus on poverty and its causes so that complacency has no chance to settle in the strong economy."
CCHD is funding 317 community development projects -- 31 in rural areas, 182 in urban, and 104 covering statewide areas that include both. The projects cover the gamut of racial and ethnic groups in this country: 81 projects serve predominantly white communities; 61, predominantly African-American communities; 41, predominantly Latino communities; and 8 each serving predominantly Native American and Asian communities. The remaining 118 projects serve residential or job communities of two or more racial or ethnic groups. The average grant is about $30,000, and often provides seed money for further community fundraising.
The following representative projects provide an insight into CCHD's work:
In the Diocese of Fall River, United Interfaith Action (UIA), with 21 congregations involved in Fall River, Mass., received a $35,000 grant for its Portuguese Organizing Project to help members of the Portuguese community expand after-school programs to 12 additional schools, form parent teams in six schools to advocate for improved public education, and improve economic opportunities for Portuguese-Americans.
In the Diocese of Buffalo, Preservation and Restoration Initiatives on the Developing EastSide received a $25,000 grant to organize Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhoods and block clubs into a coalition to work for healthy community activities for youth, increased home ownership, and decreased building abandonment and crime.
In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Asian Americans United, Inc. received a $19,000 grant for its Chinatown Organizing Project, which helps families, many of them Southeast Asian refugees, receive equal treatment in the public school system. The project's focus is ensuring that a neighborhood school will allow increased parent access and provide a safe, effective learning environment for the children.
In the Diocese of Cleveland, We Gather and Stand Together, a project of the Ohio Catholic Rural Life Conference in Wooster, received a $29,000 grant to support 30 migrant leaders who have agreed to form a Statewide Council to develop an integrated plan for action for immigrants and migrant workers throughout the State of Ohio. The plan will focus on issues common to both, including health care access, workplace safety and immigration rights advocacy.
In the Diocese of Shreveport, the Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb, a majority of whose members live in west-central Louisiana, has received a $10,000 grant to help document tribal members, a Bureau of Indian Affairs requirement for federal recognition.
In the Diocese of Lexington, WINGS (Women's Initiative Networking Groups) in Berea, Ky., received a $45,000 grant to expand collaboration among rural woman entrepreneurs to strengthen their presence and enable them to reach markets they could not reach alone.
In the Diocese of Peoria, "El Centro por los Trabajadores" (The Workers' Center) in Champaign, Ill., received a $35,000 grant to support more than 500 Latino and Latina migrant workers in finding jobs that will pay a fair wage and provide them with dignity. The Workers' Center will hold orientation sessions for migrant workers as they arrive in the area and provide them with Spanish-language materials on civil rights, health care and education opportunities in the area.
In the Diocese of Winona, the Land Stewardship Project in Lewiston, Minn., works to improve the stability and viability of family farmers in southeast Minnesota. To help preserve family farms, the project received a $25,000 grant to organize farmer-owned marketing cooperatives, promote family farm products locally, and assist prospective and beginning farmers in establishing sustainable farming operations.
In the Diocese of Lubbock, the West Texas Parental Organizing Project in Lubbock received a $50,000 grant to organize parents, teachers and community leaders and promote parental participation as an essential element in a child's ability to succeed in school, especially in the primary grades.
In the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Southwest Creations Collaborative of Albuquerque, N.M., received a $35,000 grant to expand into three new lines of business to create more opportunities for low-income women who are moving off welfare and earning a consistent income by sewing, embroidering or crocheting. The Collaborative also provides health care, child care and a fair wage to its members.
In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, "Proyecto Pastoral" (the Pastoral Project) at Delores Mission in Los Angeles received a $30,000 grant for its "Comunidad En Movimiento" (Community on the Move) project which began three years ago in response to community violence and housing needs in the neighborhood. The program, which promotes the rights of residents, will train new leaders this year, provide voter education toward voter registration, and involve 400 residents in conflict resolution training and peace walks.
In the Archdiocese of Portland, "VOZ" (VOICE) in Portland, Ore., received a $25,000 grant to help primarily Hispanic day laborers improve their living and working conditions. The project provides members with leadership training and English language and computer classes.
In the Archdiocese of Anchorage, the Rural Alaska Community Action Program received a $25,000 grant to launch Rebound, a day labor job placement business for the homeless and the hardcore unemployed. The program is intended to match people who need income to survive the cold Alaska weather with the unmet demand for day laborers in snow removal, commercial and residential cleaning, and construction cleanup.
Gallup Organization research shows that Americans increasingly believe that the United States is a nation divided into "haves" and "have nots:" Forty percent of Americans believed it in 1998, compared with 26 percent in 1988 (www.gallup.com/poll/socialaudits). At the same time, Americans may not fully appreciate how great the divide really is. In a 2000 poll conducted by Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates for Jobs for the Future, 69 percent of respondents said it takes at least $35,000 per year for a family of four to make ends meet (www.lspa.com).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, however, the 1999 government-defined poverty threshold for a family of four was $17,184 (www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/threshold). Regardless where Americans draw the poverty line, however, Gallup reports that one prominent attitude shift between 1988 and 1998 was an increase in the number of people who said the poor should take care of themselves, up 10 points to 28 percent; those who said the government has the greatest responsibility for helping the poor dropped 4 points, to 32 percent; and those who said churches have the greatest responsibility for helping dropped 5 points, to 14 percent.
"The Campaign was begun to help the poor help themselves. The wisdom of that approach is particularly clear three decades later in the welfare-to-work environment that puts the onus of escaping poverty squarely on the shoulders of the poor, whether or not they have the necessary tools to do so," said Father Vitillo. "Our grants go to projects that provide a 'hand up', not a 'handout', and use methods which effectively address the issue at hand, whether it's housing, wages, youth crime or job training. In addition, our grants support community organizations with local leadership that can attack the causes of poverty in the context of an intimate knowledge of the community."
Now in its 30th year, CCHD was established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 1970 to fight the root causes of poverty as a means of reinforcing both Scripture and the Church's social teaching. CCHD's mandates are two: first, to raise funds to support organized groups of poor and low-income people to develop economic strength and influence in the community, and second, to keep awareness high among Catholics of the social and economic problems that exist in the U.S. as well as to promote new approaches that can resolve problems and promote solidarity among people, regardless of their place in society.
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Note to Editors: Four states did not receive grants in this funding cycle: Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. If you would like specific information about funded projects in your diocese, contact Barbara Stephenson in the CCHD media office, 202-541-3364 or email@example.com. You may also want to contact CCHD's Diocesan Director in your diocese for more information; a complete listing of directors may be found at our web site: