CHD empowers communities to work together


CHARLESTON An overview of the Campaign for Human Development, the types of projects funded, and the major grant programs available was the focus of two presentations in the diocese by CHD representatives from Washington, D.C., recently.

Andy Slettebak, economic development specialist, and Bill Appleby Purcell, education specialist, led meetings in Charleston on Sept. 8 and Columbia Sept. 9 to explain the goal of CHD, which works to end poverty and injustice by providing grants to low-income, self-help projects that create innovative solutions to poverty.

According to Slettebak, the campaign was established in 1971 as a “component to seek structural change in society.” He described the purpose of the group’s economic development grants, whose focus is to create jobs.

The four theological roots of CHD are the dignity of the human person, participation, solidarity, and the preferential option for the poor, said Slettebak.

In order for organizations to receive funding, he cited four criteria that must also be met: Fifty percent low income control and benefits; must work for institutional change in policy and organizational structure; conformity with Catholic teaching; and plans to build organizational capacity and develop leaders.

The entirety of funding for the Campaign for Human Development comes from a national collection taken up in parishes across the country the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The collection brings in about $7 million a year, and grants are given in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

The screening and final awarding of funds is done in partnership between the local diocese Office of Social Ministry and the national CHD office.

Following Slettebak’s presentation, Appleby Purcell then gave an overview of Catholic social teaching criteria, which includes dignity of the human person, the community and common good, rights and responsibilities, preferential option for the poor, the dignity of work, and solidarity.

Sister Susan Schorsten, HM, director of Social Ministry for the diocese, stated that in the first 25 years of the Campaign for Human Development, parishes in South Carolina donated $700,000 to the collection, while receiving $1.2 million in grants.

This year, the diocese donated $10,000 from its share of the Campaign for Human Development to the Omega Project, a program whose overall goal is to encourage local communities to deal with the challenges and opportunities of living in a multicultural society in the 21st century.

Held in Hampton, Florence, Orangeburg and Anderson counties, the Palmetto Project effort involves study groups of eight to 12 people from each of the four counties who attended a statewide interracial summit and ensuring training session that taught them facilitation skills.