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Faith & Action Project

Friday, September 1, 2017
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The Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary connects, inspires and empowers faith communities and others to implement effective solutions for people confronting poverty. Through annual public events and grants, the Faith & Action Project seeks to ignite a collaborative, interfaith and inclusive movement for well-being and justice in our community. This project is made possible by a gift from the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund.

“Poverty: A Community Responds,” a public discussion of poverty

When: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, 350 W. Maryland St.

Supported by the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund, the Faith & Action Project launches its second year on Nov. 8 with “Poverty: A Community Responds,” a public discussion of poverty featuring thought leaders focused on housing, education and hope: Matthew Desmond, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in America; Deborah Bial, education strategist and leader of the Posse Foundation; and Dr. Valerie Maholmes, who penned Fostering Resilience and Well-being in Children and Families in Poverty: Why Hope Still Matters. The discussion will be moderated by UIndy President Robert Manuel.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and previous events sold out. Registration opens mid-September and can be accessed at

Six poverty-fighting projects selected for grants

Projects working to help Hoosier families and individuals escape poverty have received a $125,000 boost in the form of the inaugural round of Faith & Action Project grants. Organizers had intended to award $100,000, but increased the grant pool after reviewing proposals.

Six area programs will receive grants aimed at helping them expand their reach and impact. Selected programs range from those that teach job skills and money management to those that provide legal services and help formerly homeless children succeed in school.

“We looked for the programs that have the greatest potential to create real, lasting change,” said Faith & Action Director Lindsey Rabinowitch. “Our hope is that, with additional resources, these programs can be scaled up and replicated and, therefore, help more people trapped in poverty.”

The grant recipients and the amounts they received are:

  • Edna Martin Christian Center, American Baptist Churches of Greater Indianapolis and Eastern Star Church: $25,000
  • Goodwill’s New Beginnings: $25,000
  • Purposeful Design: $25,000
  • Broadway United Methodist Church: $20,000
  • Trinity Episcopal Church: $20,000
  • School on Wheels: $10,000

Details of each proposal are included below.

Launched in 2016, the Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary is supported from the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund as a multiyear effort to help reduce poverty in Indianapolis. In addition to providing grants, the Faith & Action Project has held communitywide events and attracted national poverty experts to Central Indiana.

Fifty-four initial proposals were submitted to Faith & Action Project, representing nonprofit organizations, faith communities and collaborations between the two. While the Faith & Action Project initially planned to award $100,000 in grants, it increased that amount after reviewing the 14 grant finalists.

“We were overwhelmed by the power of the proposals we received: Proposals filled with creativity and hope, proposals built on a fundamental compassion and desire to make a difference, and proposals driven by a belief that this battle could be won,” Rabinowitch said. “The intent is that in addition to funding, these grants will shine a spotlight on projects that are working to change lives in Indianapolis,” said Mike Smith of the Mike and Sue Smith Family Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation. “We want to increase awareness of them so more people are inspired to get involved and help.”

The six projects will be highlighted at the Faith & Action Project’s next public event, which is the evening of Nov. 8. More details on that will be announced soon.

CTS Dean of Faculty Leah Gunning Francis added, “It is our hope that the Faith & Action Project not only helps this year’s six grant recipients make a difference in the lives of people living in poverty, but also that it spurs a greater engagement in the social justice issues that surround us all. That will help us create a foundation for ongoing and unlimited possibility.”

The recipients are:

  • Edna Martin Christian Center, American Baptist Churches of Greater Indianapolis and Eastern Star Church: $25,000 to assist families in the 46218 zip code by increasing the number of stable households. Program activities include working to bring more families into homes that are being built or refurbished in the neighborhood, providing education support and mentoring, assisting in employment readiness and acquisition, and ensuring basic needs are met.
  • Goodwill’s New Beginnings: $25,000 to fund a six-month transitional jobs programs for formerly incarcerated persons. Participants work four days a week at Goodwill Commercial Services or Retail Outlet locations and spend one day a week in a six-hour class focused on life-skill development and stabilization activities. 
  • Purposeful Design: $25,000 for its program to teach woodworking and job-readiness to men emerging from addiction or homelessness. The grant will help expand and improve its production facility in order to employ more men, as well as launch a new School of Woodworking and Discipleship to train men and youth in woodworking, employment readiness and Godly living.
  • Broadway United Methodist Church: $20,000 for a program aimed at improving families’ economic mobility. Modeled after a program created by Families Independence Initiative, the program would build small groups around families, provide families with stipends in return for completing certain activities, and require families to set and pursue three goals that would improve their economic mobility. 
  • Trinity Episcopal Church: $20,000 for Trinity House, which will offer a safe environment for 16-to-21-year-old people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In addition to getting shelter, the youths staying at Trinity House will have access to legal services, life-skills training, assistance with education and job training, and facilitated connections to other community service agencies.
  • School on Wheels: $10,000 for a program that helps families recover from the impact of recent homelessness by providing post-shelter education services. Funds will help provide educational assessments after a family moves out of a homeless shelter, school enrollment assistance, school supplies and uniform assistance, transportation assistance, and parent workshops to help parent engage in their child’s education.
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