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SDOP announces more than $400K in 2020 grants

by Margaret Mwale, Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People | Special to Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) has approved grants totaling $402,900 to communities in the United States and internationally to date in 2020. The money is from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. The national SDOP Committee enables members and non-members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

The projects and grants:

  • South Sudan Lutheran Church, Fargo, North Dakota, $15,000 — These South Sudanese group members seek to acquire proficiency in English to navigate their new culture and share their heritage with their children as they struggle to find work, access services and secure housing.
  • Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Philadelphia, $15,000 — A 20-week youth program to meet the intersectional needs of young people in the poorest neighborhoods of Philadelphia to build leadership, community and organizing skills. This project also provides a safe space for healing, recreation, creative self-expression, supportive community and mentorship.
  • Boricuá Organization for Agroecology of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico, $15,000 — The group offers its members and others the tools to know how to reduce hunger and poverty and how to produce sustainable and healthy food. Group members seek to develop further the capacity to strengthen the organization’s operational infrastructure and use part of the funds for operations and maintenance of the collective. In addition, the organization seeks to use the funds toward programmatic goals that benefit its membership and the general public through educational and training activities.
  • New Jersey Parents’ Caucus, State of New Jersey (three counties), $14,400 — The project seeks to develop leadership skills and instruct parents on resources available for special needs children.
  • Put People First PA, Philadelphia, $15,000 — The project supports the ongoing work of Put People First to advocate for health care for all Pennsylvanians.
  • Refugees Helping Refugees, Rochester, New York, $15,000 — A group of refugee women and men from 20 countries learning how to sew, knit, and crochet clothing, make silk screen shirts, jewelry and other crafts professionally. The items are sold at local markets, festivals, and on Etsy, the global online market.
  • Dismas House of Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts, $12,500 — The project is to reform the local Social Security office so that it is more responsive to clients as well as reduce the costs to inmate families for phone calls to inmates.
  • Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, Sacramento, California, $16,000 — Leadership development, organizing, work on campaigns addressing the criminalization of homelessness — for example, camping ordinances, educating and generating support from the public about issues of homelessness.
  • National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Pasadena, California, $16,000 — A radio communication project formed by Hispanic day laborers in the Pasadena area. The idea of the group arose from the need to raise general awareness about the barriers and injustices existing in the Jornalera community (discrimination, labor abuse, wage theft, etc.).
  • Proyecto Pastoral, Los Angeles, $16,000 — Promesa created the network in 2017 to address needs developed in reaction to the current immigration policy. They seek to mobilize, educate and protect themselves and their immigrant community through distributing know your rights and family preparedness information, providing support during ICE arrests/raids and mobilizing residents to advocate for just immigration policies.
  • Bakuumba Botik Co-op, San Diego, $16,000 — The project is a retail co-op situated in the Encanto neighborhood of southeastern San Diego, with a 16% African American population. The group’s mission is to empower itself and others. The co-op provides stalls for 12 vendor-members who offer a variety of goods and services. They plan to upgrade the venue by adding class and performance space as well as a small herb garden in a small courtyard behind the store. Their vision is to create a community hub, arts venue and small business incubator.
  • Economic Development at Koinonia, Americus, Georgia, $15,000 — The project will use funding to develop products. The grant makes it possible for the bakery manager to undergo training in inventory, budgeting, and management. Funding will also be used to provide part-time employment to area residents and will support the ongoing life and work at Koinonia.
  • Contact Center’s Health Care Empowerment Project, Cincinnati, Ohio, $15,000 — The project organizes for improved and accessible health care coverage for its members, including substance abuse treatment and mental health care if needed.
  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Chicago, $15,000 — This project seeks to tackle gentrification in its community and will include a pilot long-term affordable home ownership program. The project will work with partners to develop a community land trust utilizing existing housing stock. It will also conduct outreach to help its group members and other families facing foreclosure, high energy costs and property taxes by connecting them to resources.
  • Print Collaborative, Cleveland, Ohio, $15,000 — The project will provide income and serve as a printing resource for underserved groups. The members of the collaborative own and make the decisions as a group. They will use the funding to establish the printing company.
  • North Flint Food Market Cooperative, Flint, Michigan, $15,000 — This project seeks to tackle the problem of a food desert in the community by creating a community-owned food cooperative. Residents will be the driving force behind creating food security and increasing access to healthy food in their community.
  • LeRoy Living Well Senior Center, LeRoy, Illinois, $15,000 — The project involves renovating a building to become a senior wellness center to reduce social isolation, promote healthy lifestyles, and serve as a resource and a hub for social interaction. Long-term change is the creation of a safe space for seniors that will provide resources and recreation, permitting seniors to age in place in their communities.
  • Project Nu Beginning Re-Entry, Irmo, South Carolina, $15,000 — The group seeks to expand a mentoring program for the children of incarcerated parents. The project will focus on disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline system in School District One in Columbia, South Carolina. It will work towards reunifying the family structure, empowering children, enhancing public safety in the communities and helping parents along with their children to become productive law-abiding citizens.
  • Atlanta Agricultural Alliance, Atlanta, $15,000 — Growers recognized a need to effectively change how food was produced, marketed and delivered in their community. They came together to address the need for food security, health and self-sustainability as well as the needs for their community.
  • Caridad Gardens, Las Vegas, Nevada, $15,000 — Veteran Gardeners is a group of formerly homeless veterans who have banded together to seek to empower themselves through job skills training and mental/emotional wellness programs. The gardeners each receive a small stipend for growing produce that is used by the group and sold to local restaurants. The group receives training on how to grow and market its crops.
  • Colonense International Performing Arts Foundation, Colon City, Panama, $15,000 — The project works with primarily Afro-Panamanian youth who are street artists performing at stoplights and often homeless and at-risk. The project seeks to provide stability, training, mentorship and support for those who may be addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. To provide sustainability for the future, project members plan to launch a small bakery and café to sell baked goods locally. They also plan to create crafts from recycled materials to sell to tourists, launch a line of printed T-shirts and start a mobile kiosk.
  • Group of Women of Value, Panama City, Panama, $17,000 — The project is a catering service that provides high-quality products at affordable prices and provides employment and training to group members. The $17,000 additional funds are to buy a food truck to allow them to continue with their services.
  • The Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA), Guatemala City, Guatemala, $32,500 — CEDEPCA is an intermediary partner in Guatemala. It will use SDOP criteria to fund projects in Guatemala.
  • Interchurch Center for Theological and Social Studies (CIEETS), Managua, Nicaragua, $37,500 — CIEETS is an intermediary partner in Nicaragua. It will use SDOP criteria to fund projects in Nicaragua.

The Rev. Karen Brown of Baltimore is board chair of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. (Contributed photo)

Earlier this summer, the following National SDOP Committee officers were elected:

Chairperson — Karen Brown, Baltimore

Vice Chair — Pat Osoinach, Wichita Falls, Texas

Finance Committee Chair — Phyllis Edwards, Detroit

Community & Church-Wide Relations Committee Chair — Mandy Adams-Henderson, New Albany, Indiana

Midwest Task Force Chair — Elizabeth Swee, Moorhead, Minnesota

South Task Force Chair — Wayne Steele, Louisville, Kentucky

Northeast Task Force Chair — Rick Morrow, North Wales, Pennsylvania

West Task Force Chair — Wesley Woo, San Francisco

International Task Force Chair — Susan Dobkins, Richland, Washington

SDOP is constantly looking for ways to engage communities of economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people in partnership as well as to promote and interpret the ministry in Presbyterian congregations. For information on how you may further engage with SDOP, please contact the National Office at: Self-Development of People, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Ky. 40202-1396. The toll-free telephone numbers are: English (888) 728-7228 X5781/5782/5792; Spanish (888) 728-7228 X5790. Or visit

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