WASHINGTON (September 6, 2001) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, announced today the distribution of $10 million to support projects that address the causes of poverty in the United States. The amount represents an all-time high in annual grants from the 32-year-old organization.
The grants will fund 317 local projects across the country, selected without regard to religious affiliation. The projects take direct and local action on the causes of poverty. The funded projects are located in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. CCHD is one of the largest private U.S. funders of anti-poverty programs controlled by the poor.
More than one half of the grants (174) were awarded to projects in urban areas. Another 88 grants were designated for areas considered a combination of urban and rural, 46 were exclusively in rural areas, and nine will operate in suburban areas. "CCHD grants are designed to help poor people, many of whom work at several jobs, by supporting their community-based efforts to seek solutions to attain greater justice where they live and work," said Father Robert J. Vitillo, executive director of CCHD. "More than 32 million people in the United States live below the poverty line," and in the vast majority of cases they do not choose to be poor," he continued. "They find themselves in such situations because of changing social conditions, lack of educational opportunities, or inability to find work that pays a living wage."
In a Poverty Pulse survey commissioned by CCHD earlier this year to determine attitudes toward poverty, about one-third of the respondents said that they have been poor at least for a time in their life. Almost one-half of the respondents said that they were very concerned" that they could become poor at some point in their life.
Many of the organizations supported by CCHD provide a "hand up" for the unemployed, the newly arrived, or those who have been "stuck" in the cycle of poverty by helping them to develop leadership skills, to speak out on behalf of their families, and to propose and work toward solutions to long-term social problems. "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 that have failed in their teaching responsibilities, and laborers in the workforce that are neither paid a fair wage nor valued for their contributions," Father Vitillo said.
Each year, a portion of the CCHD grant money is designated for economic development grants that focus on job creation and business development. This year $1.4 million will go to that purpose. "Economic development grants are consistent with CCHD's founding resolution to help low-income people develop economic strength in their own communities," Father Vitillo said. "These grants support projects that create jobs that offer fair wages and benefits, as well as generate opportunities for business decision-making and ownership."
As an example, Father Vitillo cited Home Care Associates, Inc, in Philadelphia. This seven-year old worker-owned home health care company shares two goals—to create quality employment for low-income women and to provide quality home health care services to the elderly. This year $135,000 from CCHD will help Home Care Associates add 50 employees to the organization.
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; 102 of the organizations this year have Catholic or other Christian denominations as members, or are interfaith organizations.
According to Father Vitillo, "All of the projects assisted by CCHD grants are organized to bring about permanent change—to develop better leaders, to provide better housing or to promote employability. They are not just stopgap measures, but are designed to end poverty for a lifetime."
Note to Editors: Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Vermont did not receive grants in this funding cycle. If you would like specific information about funded projects in your state or diocese, contact Barbara Stephenson in the CCHD media office, 202-541-3364 or firstname.lastname@example.org 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: www.usccb.org/cchd/director.shtml
The following representative projects provide an insight into CCHD's work:
- The Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, Maine, received a $35,000 grant to continue support for its consumer advocacy project. The 25-year-old organization has become the state's largest provider of social services for the homeless, providing for daily basic needs such as food, showers, laundry, telephones, mailing address and message service while the homeless seek long-term solutions to their problems.
- The Prison Families Organizing Project in Albany, New York, received $45,000, its first CCHD grant, to build links for a statewide prison family program. The project will provide support groups, training and education for families of prisoners.
- In Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, Speaking for Ourselves, an independent grassroots self-help advocacy organization run by and for people with disabilities, received a $25,000 grant. The funds will help people with developmental disabilities return to the community to live in three-person supervised community homes.
- The Tenants' and Workers' Support Committee (TWSC) in Alexandria, Virginia, received $33,000 for its Northern Virginia Expansion Project. TWSC is a multi-racial, multi-issue organization that works for the improvement of wages, benefits and health and safety in northern Virginia. This year's grant will help them involve more of the area's low-wage workers in the decisions that affect their lives.
- The Community Farm Alliance in Frankfort, Kentucky, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in rural communities. It received $45,000 for a project to ensure that local people drive the decision-making process over the use and distribution of tobacco settlement funds.
- The Hmong Voices project of the Fort Howard/Jefferson Neighborhood Family Resource Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, received $30,000. The project works to break down barriers and educate city, county and state lawmakers about the issues faced by the Hmong community.
- Centro Campesino, Inc., of Owatonna, Minnesota, will use its first $35,000 CCHD grant to expand leadership development activities to migrant agricultural workers and year-round rural Latino residents in south central Minnesota. The organization works to increase and improve the availability of affordable housing, quality child care and translator services in public institutions.
- The Dakota Nation Broadcasting Corporation, Sisseton, South Dakota, received $33,000 to provided training for radio station staff to begin programming on issues related to health, housing, employment and cultural identity. Dakota Broadcasting was established in 1991 by the traditional Dakota people. The station serves both the Indian and non-Indian community.
- New Mexico Organizing in Gallup, New Mexico, received its first CCHD grant of $55,000 to continue building leadership teams in Gallup, Farmington, Santa Fe and the Four Corners Area. It has developed leaders among Zuni, Navajo, African-American, Hispanic and Anglo people as well as Spanish-speaking immigrants. The leaders will address such issues as low wages, high poverty, and poor preschool and public education opportunities.
- In San Carlos, California, Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA) is a federation of congregations assisting neighborhoods, schools and congregations to improve the quality of life for families in the San Francisco peninsula. A $35,000 grant will help PIA mobilize members to address affordable housing, education and community development access to health care.
- The St. Mary's Parish Immigrant Women Empowerment Project in Kodiak, Alaska, received $30,000 to promote self-determination among low-income Latina immigrant women. St. Mary's already offers advocacy, translation, legal aid and English language services and this first grant from CCHD will help to create a forum for immigrant women to address issues that affect their lives.