SDOP disburses over $100,000 for nine self-help projects

Grant money from One Great Hour of Sharing helps oppressed and disadvantaged achieve self-sufficiency

by Margaret Mwale | Special to Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) approved grants in 2017 totaling $133,753 to fund six self-help projects in the United States and three in Belize. The national committee met recently to approve funding made possible through the One Great Hour of Sharing. SDOP enables members and nonmembers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with oppressed and disadvantaged people and help them achieve self-sufficiency.

The projects and grant amounts include:

  • Strength of Love Farms, Baltimore, $15,000 for this urban farm that is owned and maintained by returning citizens and community members. The project is in an area with an extremely high rate of incarcerated men and the lowest access to fresh food in the Baltimore area.
  • ReFresh Community Garden Leadership Program, New Orleans,  $15,000 for this community-led project. The low-income project members plant and harvest produce to feed themselves and their families as well as sell produce to the public via a farmers market. Community gardeners have taken on leadership roles to train, mentor and assist other gardeners in effective planting and growing techniques. Hurricane Katrina created a food desert in Mid-City New Orleans making it difficult to buy affordable, good quality food. It also severely lowered the economic vitality of the community.
  • Sounds of Joy Performing Arts Program, Albany, Georgia, $4,000 to assist this summer program of at-risk and disadvantaged youth who desire to excel in the performing arts. The program is designed to allow initiative for self-learning as well as instruction for young people in voice, drama, dance and public speaking. Young people gather at the beginning of the summer and determine the programs they will pursue during the summer months. Instructors and the board then offer appropriate instruction and supportive logistics.
  • Small Scale Sustainable Development Liberia and Sierra Leone, $19,200 for cooperative farming and livelihoods program in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • CE- MUJER, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, $10,000 for CE-MUJER, an intermediary partner in the Dominican Republic. It uses SDOP criteria to fund projects in the Dominican Republic.
  • Presbyterian Church of Rwanda, $10,000 for the Church to provide assistance to agricultural projects, handicrafts projects, water supply and electricity using SDOP guidelines.
  • Created to Create, Miami, $15,000 for these economically disadvantaged youth and young adult group members seeking to help themselves and the community. Project members seek to reduce the rate of crime and juvenile incarceration through training and learning how they use their skills and talents to create residual income. This project will affect about 40 youth and young adults.
  • Catawba Lands, Rocky Hill, S.C., $15,000 to enable this group of families to learn how to grow food on their own land through hydroponic and permaculture methods. Currently many families are unable to acquire fresh healthy food due to lack of transportation.
  • Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative, Hopkins Village, Belize, $30,553. The Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative started in 1984 and is the oldest woman-owned cooperative in Belize. It was from this cooperative that the first bed and breakfast was started in Hopkins Village in 1987. The funds will help continue a six-year project to complete renovations of the property as a tourist destination. Activities include adding one cabana, office, washhouse and skilled workers to create and increase internet links and social media tourist sites.

Self-Development of People looks for new community groups to forge partnerships with and receives and reviews grant applications year-round. Potential community partners must meet SDOP’s funding criteria of group members directly controlling, owning and benefiting from the project.

Groups interested in being considered for the fall funding cycle will need to apply soon. Visit then click on the “Visible Community, Maine” video for more on the application process. Click here for more information about Self-Development of People and its projects or to host a SDOP community workshop (information session).

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