WASHINGTON (October 4, 2002) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the distribution of $10.2 million to support projects aimed at addressing the root causes of poverty in the United States. This marks the third consecutive year that the annual CCHD grants have been over the $10 million mark. CCHD is one of the largest private U.S. funders of anti-poverty programs initiated and run by the poor.
This year's grants will fund 339 projects throughout the nation, many of which are sponsored by inter-faith organizations. The funded projects take direct and local action on the causes of poverty. "CCHD grants are designed to offer people a way out of poverty for a lifetime, not just for a day," said Father Robert J. Vitillo, executive director of CCHD.
"Many of this year's recipient organizations are dedicated to creating jobs and promoting community development. They also work on solving issues related to the lack of affordable housing, the decline of small farms, and unjust treatment of immigrants," Father Vitillo said. "Although the U.S. government pegs the poverty level at $17,650 for a family of four, it is impossible to survive on that amount in many areas of the country. Access to decent housing, employment, healthcare and adequately performing schools can spell the difference between merely surviving and the opportunity to live a decent life," Father Vitillo added.
"Many Americans have become alarmed about losses in their investment and retirement portfolios, but we must remember that the 34 million people still living below the poverty line in America never even had an opportunity to invest," Father Vitillo said. "For those people, CCHD grants represent an investment in human dignity and potential."
Funded projects are located in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 120 of this year's grants were awarded to multi-ethnic sponsoring organizations in communities where people of different backgrounds have united to solve common problems. In Detroit, for instance, Transportation Riders United brings together people who use public transportation to ensure equitable transportation access to employment, shopping and healthcare facilities. In San Francisco, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights works with congregations with large immigrant populations to increase civic participation among immigrants and to protect the rights of immigrants. The largest number of grants, 169, went to projects in urban areas. Another 114 were designated in urban/rural areas, 49 in rural and seven in suburban areas.
Each year a portion of the CCHD grant money is allocated for projects that focus on job creation and business development. This year $1.5 million will be awarded to 67 organizations sponsoring activities such as business incubators and cooperatives. For example, Best Milk Producers Cooperative in Williamsport, Pa., a small cooperative of dairy farmers, operates a dairy store and milk-processing center employing 22 persons. The co-op sells to nearly 40 stores. In Harlem, Mont., the Fort Belknap Arts and Crafts Cooperative assists members of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes to produce and market crafts nationally and internationally while developing an economic base on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. CCHD funds come from individual Catholics who donate to a nationwide collection each year, usually in the fall. One quarter of the collection stays in the local diocese and the remainder is distributed nationally according to need.
If you would like specific information about funded projects in your state or diocese, contact Barbara Stephenson, 202-541-3364, firstname.lastname@example.org or Mary Yerrick, 301-320-6888, email@example.com Color press photos are available on our website: www.usccb.org/cchd/pressphotos2002.shtml You also may want to contact CCHD's Diocesan Director in your diocese for more information; a complete list of directors may be found at the web site: www.usccb.org/cchd/director.shtml.