Ministry Responses and Best Practices
- Ministers from the Claver Community in Cincinnati, OH, who work regularly with a local senior computer center, are helping the center utilize its resources to provide computer training for the unemployed — to seniors and non-seniors alike (including resume assistance and career re-training in information technology).
- Catholic parishes and institutions in Chicago (including St. Procopius and Cristo Rey High School) have come together to form a community organization called “Resurrection Project” which provides financial counseling, mortgage refinancing options and addresses other housing issues as part of its social mission.
- St. Matthew’s Parish, in St. Louis, has utilized the assistance of Ignatian Volunteer Corp (IVC) volunteer to initiate a “Catholic Employment Network” which seeks to match people from the community with job opportunities in the area.
- Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso has begun a program of capacitacion trabajoral with the assistance of Jesuit Volunteer Corp members to provide job search assistance and counseling.
- The Ignatian Spirituality Project, in collaboration with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, is providing job training and helping to find jobs for the homeless, the unemployed, and low-wage workers in Chicago. This “Put Illinois to Work program” was begun with help from federal government stimulus monies.
- Nativity Prep in Boston is participating in a program initiated by the Harvard Business School whereby Harvard will host sessions at the nearby Epiphany school (a school in the Nativity network) for people interested starting their own small businesses. The Nativity schools are encouraged to reach out to students, families and even staff who would benefit from participating in the program.
Family and Youth Initiatives
- Proyecto Pastoral in Boyle Heights, CA has initiated Friday night “Peace Walks” followed by Family Movie night to combat neighborhood violence and to reach out to youth and families. They also amplified their youth programs and camps this past summer to fill the voids created by the state cuts.
- Hopeworks in Camden, NJ opened a new residential program for the youth who participate in their job training and mentoring programs, called the C.R.I.B. — Community Responding In Belief. The C.R.I.B. is designed to meet a critical need affecting youth: unsafe, unsupportive, and dysfunctional living environments which often lead to instability, disrupt college plans and hamper a youth’s ability to build on success established at Hopeworks.
- Cristo Rey Nativity School in Chicago is more closely monitoring students from a crisis intervention and prevention standpoint. They are doing more outreach with their counseling program and trying to make sure everyone is aware that they can go to Father Sean, the school counselor, if they are having problems. They are also monitoring payments of registration fees and tuition because it’s an indicator that something is likely going on at home (a job loss, other financial woes) which can affect the well-being of the student.
- Despite massive budget cuts and layoffs due to significant reductions in foundation grants and donations, Homeboy Industries is still maintaining its core services like Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Café that provide former gang members and youth recently released from prison with job skills necessary to land life-altering jobs. Through the gift of a donor, Homeboy Industries also able to offer youth the opportunity for spiritual retreats at the Jesuit Retreat Center at Los Altos.
- St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland – through its Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership program — provides an annual summer camp program for low-income urban youth in Cleveland. The camp provides computer training, academic mentoring, arts and crafts and field trips. The program is staffed by volunteers from the high school and builds relationships of solidarity between the students from the college preparatory high school and young people from Cleveland’s poorest neighborhood. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36ZRU4ci2nA
- The pastoral ministry assistant for the Wisconsin, Detroit, Chicago tri-province region has brought all the retreat house directors together for networking meetings to address strategic issues and to increase collaboration on these issues — such as how to better serve the Spanish-speaking population in the region. Retreat houses that have never provided retreats in Spanish are learning from the experience, methodology and materials of other retreat houses that have been working with the Hispanic population in order to increase their outreach and capacity in this area.
- St. Matthew the Apostle parish in St. Louis is collaborating with religious sisters funded by the Incarnate Word Foundation, who are working in the neighborhood to try and find out basic needs and lead community organizing efforts. They have also partnered with a wealthier suburban parish to try and meet these needs and to provide an encounter among communities.
- Casa Romero Urban Retreat Center in Milwaukee is providing low-cost meeting space to neighborhood community organizing groups and Hispanic leadership development programs; an effort which helps to subsidize the work of the Center while providing neighborhood groups with much needed meeting space, all while providing needed services to the community.
Creative Fundraising and Development Initiatives
Many of the ministries that participated in the survey have found themselves challenged to increase their level of service to meet community needs in light of the recession while the income streams for their own ministries are significantly down. In particular, they have been affected by a significant loss of foundation funding which accounted for 35%-50% of the overall budget of many of the ministries surveyed (particularly those with 501 c3 status). Below you will find ministry “best practices” in this area:
- Virtual Car Wash — Homeboy Industries California: is a virtual fund-raising initiative run off the Homeboy Industries website, and promoted through social-networking media, that is rooted in the cultural context of the community being served.
- The New Orleans Province has hired a grants person on the province staff who is shared among 5 or 6 different agencies and ministries including the Harry Tompson Center and the Rebuild Center.
- Three parishes, served by the Claver Jesuit Community in Cleveland, are becoming a pastoral region. This was done originally to address a priest shortage issue but in coming together the three parishes were able to hire full-time development staff — never done before — to address the critical shortage of funds.
- Washington Jesuit Academy has initiated a capital campaign in the last two years and has been very successful despite the recession. While part of this is due to the lower level of unemployment in the Washington DC area, WJA attributes part of their success to promoting connections between donors and the school and its students. Many donors sponsor individual students who they meet regularly throughout the year.
- The Chief Seattle Club and Indian Center in Tacoma, Washington is promoting greater connection between the native peoples who live on reservations and the impoverished and marginalized urban native peoples who visit the Center in Tacoma. Many of the reservations are flourishing due to casino revenues; thus it is helpful to have people on the Center’s board to help with fund-raising from primarily native sources of revenue. The Chief Seattle Club and Indian Center has also built relationships with the Indian Health Board to provide services at the Center.