By Margaret Mwale, Associate for Community Relations
New Orleans (PNS) The National Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approved grants totaling $149,400 to 9 self-help projects in the United States. Money for the grants comes from the PC (USA)’s One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering.
SDOP, funded primarily through the OGHS offering, enables members and non-members of the PC(USA) to establish partnerships with economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people to help them achieve sufficiency.
Grants were approved at a meeting of SDOP’s National Committee Jan. 16-18 in New Orleans.
Projects funded range from assisting a group of farmers working to increase the production of fresh fruits and vegetables to tackle the unusually high rate of diabetes and heart disease in their community to a cooperative business run by youth who are developing entrepreneurial skills by marketing non-violence awareness and conflict resolution strategies.
Groups awarded funds at the January 18, 2014 meeting:
- Eclipse Graphics, Chicago — $13,000 to a cooperative business run by youth seeking to develop entrepreneurial skills by marketing non-violence awareness and conflict resolution strategies through peace-themed products, literature and performances
- College and Community Fellowship, New York — $20,000 to this group using theater to raise awareness about criminal justice reform and re-entry by sharing their stories of struggle as formerly incarcerated women.
- Women’s Press Collective, Brooklyn, N.Y. — $15,000 to upgrade and expand the in-house design and print capacity. Members have previously lacked the needed equipment, expertise or supplies. Members will be able to market their products to earn income and to improve their quality of life.
- Brandworkers, New York — $20,000 to enable the Brandworkers to train workers of food production plants to advocate for themselves for wage equity, improved safety in the workplace and elimination of wage theft.
- Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Morristown, N.J. — $20,000 to assist this immigrant group in building its organizing capacity and group members’ knowledge, leadership and advocacy skills to bring about labor and civil rights justice. The project’s goals include educating themselves and the community to participate actively in human rights education and campaigns for a humane immigration policy.
- Talihina Farmers’ Market, Talihina, Okla. — $15,000 to assist a group of farmers who have come together to increase production of fresh fruits and vegetables to tackle the unusually high rate of diabetes and heart disease in their community
- Island Food Security Network, Kingshill, Virgin Islands — $20,000 to purchase and ship a 45-horse powered tractor with a tiller to the farmers.
- H.O.M.E. of Daytona Beach, Fla. — $11,400 to help change perceptions and raise awareness of homeless individuals’ issues through improving the infrastructure of the group to address its basic needs as well as a newsletter and website.
- Critical Mass Dance Company, Los Angeles — $15,000 to a community-based, all women’s dance collective that seeks to change the structures that perpetuate poverty, oppression and injustice by empowering women though the healing power of dance and mutual community.
National Committee members also had an opportunity to participate in a learning tour of areas within New Orleans especially impacted by Hurricane Katrina.