Catholic Campaign for Human Development leads effort to raise awareness and break the cycle of poverty.
WASHINGTON (January 5, 2004) - The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) this month launched a new national awareness campaign that emphasizes the growing number of poor Americans, according to the most recent U.S. Census figures, and urges Americans to respond with a patriotic sense of justice to the plight of poor and low-income people. Timed to coincide with the beginning of Poverty in America Awareness Month, the new CCHD-sponsored campaign uses television, radio and print ads to attract attention to the 34.6 million Americans who now live in poverty, a figure 1.7 million higher than the 32.9 million poor in 2001.
At 16.7 percent, the poverty rate for children remained higher than that of any other age group—that is 12.1 million poor children in the United States. In 2002, there were 7.2 million poor families (9.6 percent), up from 6.8 million (9.2 percent) in 2001.
The U.S. Census Bureau considers the poverty threshold for a two-parent family of four to be $18,400. Other studies have shown that Americans believe the current poverty threshold figure is unrealistic. A recent study conducted by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development shows that most Americans believe it takes closer to $35,000 annually to adequately house, clothe and feed a family of four.
This year's public service television, radio and print ads utilize the country's greatest symbols of freedom and unity—The Liberty Bell, Old Glory and The Statue of Liberty—to illustrate how this nation can rally with those living in need, to help them break the bonds of poverty once and for all.
According to Father Robert J. Vitillo, executive director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, "Not only does CCHD work to raise awareness of the 'bad news' about the alarming incidence of poverty in the United States; it spreads the 'good news' as well. It offers a message of dreams come true and hope for the future, as dangerous and rundown MSOfficeneighborhoods are transformed, schools are improved, families find safe and affordable places to live and gainful employment is found – all as a result of the community-based, self-help projects that are funded by CCHD."
Since its founding, the Campaign has provided seed money to train leaders in the community for projects that are initiated and led by low-income people themselves. Over the years, CCHD has offered a total of $260 million to more than 4,000 such projects. During this current year, the Campaign is supporting 318 local projects in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is one of the largest private funders of self-help programs initiated and led by poor people in the United States. Committed to the permanent elimination of poverty and injustice in the U.S., CCHD has supported more than 4,000 programs nationwide that know no racial or religious boundaries - projects that help create jobs, improve neighborhoods and allow people to find a way out of poverty not just for a day, but a lifetime.