Community-led projects range from Black Farmer Fund in US to solar-powered drinking system in Nicaragua
by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — The Advisory Committee of the Presbyterian Hunger Program has agreed to award $1.1 million in grants to partners in the United States and around the world.
The committee met online last week to consider grant proposals, which will benefit community-led efforts in 19 countries, including the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and 88 partners.
The partners are “churches, community groups or they are nonprofits,” said Valéry Nodem, Associate for International Concerns for the Hunger Program. “We all believe they’re doing really good work” as they put their faith or spirituality into action.
Examples in the United States include the Black Farmer Fund in New York, which addresses barriers to food insecurity by investing in Black agricultural and food businesses in the Northeast; the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which advocates for changes to systems that hurt farmworkers; Creation Justice Ministries, which educates, equips and mobilizes Christians to take action for environmental justice; and Ekvn-Yefolecv, an intentional ecovillage community of indigenous Maskoke people.
Internationally, grants will benefit groups like RELUFA (Reseau de Lutte contre la Faim), which works to strengthen the commitment of local civil society organizations and community groups so they can work together to combat food insecurity in the northern regions of Cameroon; Red Uniendo Manos Peru (Peru Joining Hands Network), which is concerned about heavy metal contamination and its effects on environmental and human health; Jinishian Memorial Foundation in Armenia to help young people to develop their entrepreneurial activities; and Asofenix, which is implementing a solar-powered drinking water system in Nicaragua to guarantee families access to clean and safe water in their homes.
Funding for PHP grants comes from a variety of sources, including One Great Hour of Sharing, the Special Offering many people give around Easter time, and other funding that PHP receives to fight systemic poverty and other injustices while also working to protect Creation.
“While educating about root causes of hunger and advocating for major policy changes (federally and globally) is crucial to end hunger, so is supporting community-led efforts to solve hunger in their own communities,” said PHP Coordinator the Rev. Rebecca Barnes. “It’s important for Presbyterians to walk in solidarity with communities across the country and around the world by giving what we can of the financial resources we have in order to uplift all people.”
As a result of action taken by the General Assembly last year, there was a new source of dollars available this year: the Presbyterian Tree Fund. The grants issued from that will fund tree-planting and carbon-sequestration projects in New York, Alabama, Minnesota and Peru.
“While PHP has a long history of giving grants that support local efforts to care for the environment and combat climate change, one new thing this year is being able to fund a few grants for tree-planting and carbon sequestration specifically from new funding from PMA staff travel carbon offsets and from voluntary Presbyterian donations as offsets for their own travel,” Barnes said.
The Advisory Committee, whose members are selected through a General Assembly nominating process, met for multiple days to consider grant proposals of various types, with support from PHP staff. “These dedicated volunteers are amazing Presbyterians who love the church and love God’s world to the degree that they each read dozens of applications each summer, set aside time to meet and discuss and decide on them in the fall, and throughout the year engage other attempts to learn about and get to know these grant partners,” Barnes said.
While discussing PHP’s international work, Nodem noted that some projects can be wrapped up in one to five years while others take longer.
“Our work is really trying to respond to what our partners are calling us” to do in the short-, mid- and long-term, Nodem said. For example, “we have been funding and supporting Joining Hands networks for the longer term because these are the groups that are working on systemic injustices and our relationship with them is a lot longer.”
The grants are one of the ways PHP and its partners live out the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Matthew 25 invitation.
“To live out the Matthew 25 vision and be a movement, we have to build people power through genuine relationships, share financial and other resources with communities most impacted by poverty and racism, and support our congregations as they connect and stand with their communities,” Barnes said. “We believe that the PHP grants do these things very well.”
Making genuine connections with the fund recipients is very important, she added.
“We work hard to develop real relationships with our partners so that they see us as caring, interested, humble partners in the work (and not just funders),” she said. “We are distributing the wealth we have to communities that are low-wealth and to majority people-of-color communities. And, through Presbyterians engaged in Congregation-Based Community Organizing and through Hunger Action Advocates serving in presbyteries, we help strengthen our congregations to live out this vision of eradicating systemic poverty, dismantling structural racism, building congregational vitality, and countering climate change, militarism and heteropatriarchy.”
Sign up for the upcoming Matthew 25 workshop, “In it for the Long Haul: International Accompaniment for Long-Term Sustainable Development.” The online event takes place Oct. 30 at noon Eastern time. More information and registration is available at pcusa.org/longhaul.
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Categories: Hunger & Poverty, Special Offerings
Tags: advisory committee of the presbyterian hunger program, black farmer fund, coalition of immokalee workers, creation justice ministries, Jinishian Memorial Foundation, joining hands network, One Great Hour of Sharing, presbyterian hunger program, red uniendo manos peru, relufa, rev. rebecca barnes, Special Offerings, Valery Nodem
Ministries: Presbyterian Hunger Program