Faith in Action
Social Justice Grant Program Updates
Thirty applications were submitted to the St. Thomas More Social Justice grant program. In consultation with Father Bob, the Social Justice Grant committee awarded funding to four organizations. Two of the organizations are local Atlanta organizations and two are international. All organizations addressed the issues of poverty and racial justice, the theme of this year’s grant program.
Next Generation Men & Women is located in Atlanta and works with under-served metro area schools to provide positive exposure to professional role models and to provide support to ensure graduation and post-secondary enrollment of students. Students begin in the program in 9th grade and remain together until graduation under the direction of teacher coaches and college mentors. STM will provide $35,000 in order to purchase laptops, software, cases and storage to support the Summer Immersive Enrichment Program (SIEP).
Asociacion Hogar Nazareth Orphanage, (Jesus of Nazareth Home) is a Catholic based organization located in Comayagua, Honduras which provides housing of orphaned and at-risk children and children with disabilities. STM will provide $36,000 to purchase a van to transport children to school, pick up supplies from nearby towns, and transport children to the medical center.
ServeHAITI is an Atlanta/Decatur based organization that serves the region of Grand-Bois, Haiti (one of the poorest rural regions in a country) by providing health services, education, clean water initiatives, and economic development. The community is separated from the nearest town by a single unpaved road 40 mile road. STM will provide $35,000 toward the purchase of a late-model, low mileage truck to help support the people of Grand-Bois. The parish has a long term relationship with ServeHaiti.
SafeHouse Outreach is a faith-based Atlanta organization assists individuals and families living in poverty and or experiencing homelessness. They are ‘committed to affect real change in the lives of those in the margins of society by providing a hand-up, not just a hand-out’. STM will provide $28,500 to provide upgrade and expand kitchen equipment in their facility located on Ellis Street in downtown Atlanta. Safehouse is in the process of developing a volunteer relationship with STM.
St. Thomas More is now a parish member of Ignatian Solidarity Network
ISN offers programs and resources for equity and justice. Their mission statement: Network, educate, and form advocates for social justice animated by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the witness of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and their companions.
The STM Grants committee would like to encourage parishioners to send us suggestions of organizations working to address poverty, income inequality, and/or racism. Please send 1) a brief description of the organization, 2) the best contact information for the organization, and 3) any involvement you or other parishioners may have with the organization to John Oshinski at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will invite organizations to submit grants for the 2021-2022 year. As in past years, priority will be given to grant requests that address capital needs, rather than short-term operating funds.
A truly Catholic parish Is fundamentally oriented outward in service to the wider community. STM parishioners are engaged in a variety of outreach efforts in the Atlanta area and beyond. Our outreach is sometimes in the form of direct “hands on” service by parishioner volunteers, sometimes in the form of advocacy with public officials on behalf of the disadvantaged and threatened, sometimes in the form of educating ourselves in the nature and causes of injustice, and sometimes in the form of a substantial financial support of organizations that care for the poor and other needy. STM funds these ministries through a “social justice tithe.” That is, each year, STM allocates at least 10% of ordinary parish revenue to fund our outreach programs.
All of our social justice ministries are “pro-life,” that is, they recognize and promote the dignity of every human person at every stage of life. We are guided in what we do and how we do it by the Gospel of Jesus and by the Church’s traditional social justice teaching.
Our first choice in our outreach is to partner with and otherwise assist organizations that are already serving the poor and other needy. This “partnership” typically takes the form of providing volunteer workers and recurring modest financial support. STM has an on-going “partnership” with a number of local and non-local outreach organizations, including:
- St. Vincent de Paul Society – emergency assistance to the poor
- Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School – education of the disadvantaged
- Decatur Emergency Assistance Ministry (DEAM) – emergency food, prescription, utilities, and lodging assistance to the poor
- Birthright – pregnancy aid
- Habitat for Humanity – low cost housing
- Hagar’s House – transitional housing for homeless families
- ServeHaiti – medical clinic in Haiti
- Good Shepherd Home – housing and food assistance to the homeless in Jamaica
In addition to these recurring commitments, STM also makes large, one-time financial grants to fund projects that promise a major impact and that likely could not have been undertaken without our assistance. In the fall of each year, a committee of STM parishioners chooses a social justice “priority” area and invites local, national, and international organizations that minister in that focus area to apply for these grants. The social justice priority during FY2021 is twofold: (1) poverty and income inequality and (2) racial justice. The committee reviews the applications and recommends to the pastor which applications to approve. Grants are typically awarded in the spring of the following year.
More information about STM’s grant program can be found here.
A listing of the projects that STM has funded from the social justice tithe can be found here.
For guidelines on the 2021 grant cycle click here.
For more information about STM’s social justice programs, or to volunteer in one of the programs, call the parish office at 404-378-4588.