CHD collection helps those who help themselves

CHARLESTON — What do a network of day-care centers in Oakland, Calif., a program supporting farmers in Iowa, and a worker-owned sewing cooperative in Albuquerque have in common? They all originated from the cope of concerned individuals and seed money from the Campaign for Human Development.

CHD was established in 1970 to give life to the messages of justice and hope that are the core of Catholic teaching. Today, CHD is the nation’s largest private funder of programs that empower the poor and has donated more than $200 million to more than 3,000 community-based projects.

In South Carolina, the Carolina Fair Alliance for Fair Employment (CAFE) was awarded $40,000 for the hiring of staff, and the Charleston Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) received $10,000 for a feasibility study.

CAFE is a worker organization formed in Greenville in 1980 to empower workers who have little access to unions. It has grown into a statewide organization with over 1,000 individual members representing 12 chapters. CAFE’s biggest policy victories include passage of a state law that provides anti-retaliation protection to more than 1.5 million workers who are covered under the state workers’ compensation law. In 1996, CAFE helped close a loophole in the state law that allowed companies to drop out of the state workers’ compensation, and over 900 companies that dropped out had to re-enter the system and begin providing benefits to injured workers.

The goals for the CAFE 2000 Project are to increase the power of temporary workers to control their work lives; to increase civic participation by working families and win strategic public policy reforms; to increase access by low-income workers to union contract procedures; to increase access by low-income workers to union contract protections; and to increase the size and effectiveness of CAFE by forming new chapters, establishing a Latino outreach program, conducting a youth pilot project, and developing a new grassroots fund-raising plan.

The Charleston Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) originated in 1994 when nine neighborhood associations came together for the purpose of promoting economic development and housing. The CDC participated successfully in a federal Enterprise Community application for Charleston that received a $3 million award. Under the award, the CDC started up a Home Repair Program that has trained 19 low-income residents and completed repairs on seven homes and one retail space.

Begun in 1995, the CDC conducted an asset inventory in eight of its member neighborhoods and contracted for the preparation of a five-year strategic plan for the CDC. The plan made five recommendations, with one receiving the most interest by neighborhood leaders: the development of a supermarket/shopping center. Today, there is only one supermarket serving the CDC’s target area population of 22,500. The CDC grant from CHD will help pay for pre-development planning for the shopping center. Funds are to be used for staff, consultant and overhead costs.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) created CHD to work toward ending poverty and injustice in America. In carrying out this mission, CHD has been a significant force in funding social change, addressing the root causes of poverty through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and education.

CHD’s focus is unique. It is built on a preferential option for the poor, a strategy of empowerment, and an emphasis on participation through community. Its programs build solidarity between people who are poor and people who are not.

All projects funded by CHD seek to provide self-determination for poor people and to change attitudes as well as unjust social structures. Grants are awarded on the basis of need, not religious affiliation.

Many of the organizations CHD has funded over the last 27 years have grown from small community-based groups to complex national groups tackling vast social and economic problems, as well as advocating for just policies and laws that affect the poor.

CHD-funded groups have been instrumental in securing passage of federal and state legislation on such issues as housing, tax reform, family and medical leave, child support, family farms, migrant workers, brown lung disease, the Community Reinvestment Act and redlining.

A grant from the Campaign for Human Development often serves as seed money, enabling low-income organizations to attract support from other sources, including churches, foundations, businesses, and individuals. A study conducted at The Catholic University of America in 1994 found that, on average, for every dollar funded groups receive from CHD, they raise another $6 from other sources. This happens because the campaign has a track record of identifying groups with the potential to succeed.

Supporting Future Growth, a day-care program in Oakland, is an example of how a $15,000 CHD grant in 1972 grew into what is today a $1.5 million program. The program’s first day-care center, which opened in a parish gymnasium caring for 25 children, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1997. The program now operates seven centers with a $1.5 million budget, a staff of 40, and a 300-child capacity. Supporting Future Growth has cared for more than 3,500 children since its founding.

Another group that benefited from CHD seed money is the Academy Bakery of Chicago. In 1994 CHD provided a $10,000 economic development grant to develop a business plan for a bakery to be run by two city schools that specialize in educating and graduating former high school dropouts. As a result of that business plan, the schools were able to win support, including business contracts, from local corporations and financial institutions. The Academy Bakery opened in February 1997 to serve as both a classroom and a source of income for the schools.

The Campaign for Human Development national office is based in Washington, D.C. It is committed to fighting the root causes of poverty and enabling the poor to help themselves through education, empowerment, and participation.

Funds are raised during CHD’s annual November collection in Catholic parishes nationwide the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year the national collection is November 22-23.

In 1997, more than $8 million is being distributed to community-based, self-help projects controlled by the poor themselves in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through its funding of more than 250 local organizations each year, the Campaign for Human Development continues to build communities where hope can grow.

“The Campaign for Human Development is the embodiment of the Church’s preferential option for the poor and outcast. As the millennium approaches, we must reaffirm our commitment to empower those in need and build strong communities where hope can flourish,” said Father Robert J. Vitillo, CHD executive director.

In asking for support for CHD’s appeal, Bishop David B. Thompson wrote, “Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, frequently reminds us that our Christian vocation is not simply to support the works of charity. We are called to become directly involved as well in changing unjust policies and structures that keep people poor and assault their God-given human dignity.”